The Foundations of Psychology

Grace Halaszynski

What is Psychology?

Psychology is the study of mind and behavior. "Psychology is a multifaceted discipline and includes many sub-fields of study such areas as human development, sports, health, clinical, social behavior and cognitive processes." (Saul McLeod)

Standards for the Foundations of Psychology

  • Define the field of psychology.
  • Identify key figures in the history of the field of psychology and their major contributions; include Wundt, Freud, Skinner, James, Watson and Rogers.
  • List and describe the major occupations and subfields of psychology.
  • Explain how psychologists conduct research to describe, explain, predict, and control behavior.
  • Describe the types of research methods used by psychologists; include experiment, survey, case study, and observation.
  • Identify the basic elements of an experiment; include independent and dependent variables, types of experimental control (blind/double-blind procedures, placebo controls).
  • Explain the differences between a correlation and an experiment.
  • Classify the types and uses of statistics in psychological research; include descriptive statistics and inferential statistics.
  • Interpret graphic data representations.
  • Explain ethical issues in psychological research.
Intro to Psychology - Crash Course Psychology #1

The Key Figures of Psychology

What are the major occupations and subfields of psychology?


1. Biological: how the human enables/handles emotion

2. Evolutionary: how evolution influenced behavior

3. Psychodynamic: how unconscious events influence behavior

4. Behavioral: the study of observable responses

5. Cognitive: the entirety of how we handle information

6. Humanistic: achieving full potential and self fulfillment by acceptance

7. Social-cultural: how different situations and cultures influence behavior


1. Biological psychologists: study the connection between the mind and the brain

2. Developmental psychologists: study how we change as we grow

3. Cognitive psychologists: study how we handle conflict/problems

4. Educational psychologists: study of influences on teaching and learning

5. Personality psychologists: study of our many traits and how they affect us

6. Social psychologists: study of how we affect one another

(Myers' Psychology for AP)

How do psychologists conduct research to describe, explain, predict, and control behavior?

When psychologists conduct research to describe behavior, they are understanding the behavior. They are analyzing and collecting information through case studies and observations. When they explain behavior, they often ask themselves the questions: "Why does this behavior occur?" and "Under what circumstances will it occur again?" (Goals of Psychology) They often conduct experiments when trying to explain behaviors. When psychologists look to predict behavior, they are hypothesizing the chances of what will happen in the future. The base their future hypotheses on the results of past behavior. When they look to control behavior, they are looking at the application of that behavior in the future. They control the future behavior by explaining that, ". . . experiments are used to train new employees faster, increase the success of students and reduce drug addiction." (Goals of Psychology)
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Check this out for connections to the Pavlov experiment

If you're looking for a further explanation of these topics listed in the passage above, this website has provided an analogy to the Ivan Pavlov experiment for easier understanding.

What are the basic elements of an experiment?

The basic elements of an experiment are a theory, a hypothesis, an experiment, and a conclusion of data. Embedded in those elements are many key factors. For example, your dependent variable and independent variables are essential to an experiment. The dependent variable is what's being measured, and the independent variable is why's being changed or manipulated. Your control group is also very important. Branching off of the control group are 3 smaller categories: blind procedure, double-blind procedure, and placebo controls. A blind procedure is when the participants don't know what "treatment" they are being provided with. A double-blind procedure is when both the people who assist in conducting the experiment AND the participants don't know which group is being provided with the "treatment." The placebo controls/effect is when the participant thinks that they're receiving the "treatment" when they are really not. The "effect" portion of placebo controls is when they begin to feel better and believe that they are being healed. They can feel symptom relief and overall become happier. Little did they know, they;re not receiving any treatment at all.

What are some differences between a correlation and an experiment?

Correlations focus on the observance of naturally occurring relationships in data. Experiments are mainly focused on the cause and effect of a certain situation. In correlation, nothing is manipulated. Whereas, an experiment involves the manipulation of the independent variable. The variables are also controlled in an experiment. In a correlation observation, large groups of data are usually compared. Experiments can include groups of data, but usually do not contain excessive amounts.
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What are some ethical issues in psychological research?

3 broad topics that can cause ethical issues in psychological research are people, animals, and values. Experimenting on people can be very controversial. Many people are against scientists experimenting on humans due to possible tragedies and consequences. Experiments can put an affect on you. Also, consent is required when conducting an experiment and so is debriefing. Animals can also be a sensitive topic, although they have led to cures for many diseases and have assisted in the evolution of science. Many question, "Do animals really matter less than humans?" Animal testing has formed many debates and has become much more confined to the experimental abilities that scientists have. Values are also controversial. People ask, "Do the values or morals of a scientist affect their interpretation of results?" Many scientists believe that this is the case. They agree that certain views on touchy subjects can sometimes affect their results.
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What are some types of research methods used by psychologists?

The types of research methods used by psychologists are the descriptive method, the correlational method, and the experimental method. The descriptive method uses case studies, surveys, and observations to record behavior. Scientist compare experimental to achieve this information. Correlation is used to observe relationships that are naturally occurring. Scientists research large groups of data to achieve more accurate conclusions in the future. The experimental method is used to explore cause and effect. Using experiments, scientists have the ability to see how a certain reaction can occur from a beginning event.

What are the types and uses of statistics in psychological research?

Statistics help us to decide if differences are important. Differences are important when the difference between reliable samples is large. This is called statistical significance. Descriptive statistics are used in summarizing a sample and highlighting the main points of gathered information. Descriptive statistics, ". . .are tools that help us see and interpret what the unaided eye might miss." (Myers' Psychology for AP) Inferential statistics use data to gather information on a population. The statistics are also used, " to make judgements of the probability than an observed difference between groups is a dependable one or one that might have happened by chance in this study." (Inferential Statistics)
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"Inferential Statistics." Inferential Statistics. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 May 2016.

Myers, David G. Myers' Psychology for AP. New York, NY: Worth, 2011. Print.

Rowan, Kiri. Udemy. N.p., 25 Mar. 2014. Web. 2 May 2016.

Scarince, Christine. "Elements of an Experiment in Psychology." N.p., n.d. Web. 02 May 2016.