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One of the most influential schools of thought within psychology’s history was behaviorism. Behaviorism focused on making psychology an objective science by studying overt behavior and deemphasizing the importance of unobservable mental processes. John Watson is often considered the father of behaviorism, and B. F. Skinner’s contributions to our understanding of principles of operant conditioning cannot be underestimated.

As behaviorism and psychoanalytic theory took hold of so many aspects of psychology, some began to become dissatisfied with psychology’s picture of human nature. Thus, a humanistic movement within psychology began to take hold. Humanism focuses on the potential of all people for good. Both Maslow and Rogers were influential in shaping humanistic psychology.

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During the 1950s, the landscape of psychology began to change. A science of behavior began to shift back to its roots of focus on mental processes. The emergence of neuroscience and computer science aided this transition. Ultimately, the cognitive revolution took hold, and people came to realize that cognition was crucial to a true appreciation and understanding of behavior.

1.3 Contemporary Psychology Psychology is a diverse discipline that is made up of several major subdivisions with unique perspectives. Biological psychology involves the study of the biological bases of behavior. Sensation and perception refer to the area of psychology that is focused on how information from our sensory modalities is received, and how this information is transformed into our perceptual experiences of the world around us. Cognitive psychology is concerned with the relationship that exists between thought and behavior,

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and developmental psychologists study the physical and cognitive changes that occur throughout one’s lifespan. Personality psychology focuses on individuals’ unique patterns of behavior, thought, and emotion. Industrial and organizational psychology, health psychology, sport and exercise psychology, forensic psychology, and clinical psychology are all considered applied areas of psychology. Industrial and organizational psychologists apply psychological concepts to I-O settings. Health psychologists look for ways to help people live healthier lives, and clinical psychology involves the diagnosis and treatment of psychological disorders and other problematic behavioral patterns. Sport and exercise psychologists study the interactions between thoughts, emotions, and physical performance in sports, exercise, and other activities. Forensic psychologists carry out activities related to psychology in association with the justice system.

1.4 Careers in Psychology Generally, academic careers in psychology require doctoral degrees. However, there are a number of nonacademic career options for people who have master’s degrees in psychology. While people with bachelor’s degrees in psychology have more limited psychology-related career options, the skills acquired as a function of an undergraduate education in psychology are useful in a variety of work contexts.

Review Questions

1. Which of the following was mentioned as a skill to which psychology students would be exposed?

a. critical thinking b. use of the scientific method c. critical evaluation of sources of information d. all of the above

2. Before psychology became a recognized academic discipline, matters of the mind were undertaken by those in ________.

a. biology b. chemistry c. philosophy d. physics

3. In the scientific method, a hypothesis is a(n) ________.

a. observation b. measurement c. test d. proposed explanation

4. Based on your reading, which theorist would have been most likely to agree with this statement: Perceptual phenomena are best understood as a combination of their components.

a. William James b. Max Wertheimer c. Carl Rogers d. Noam Chomsky

5. ________ is most well-known for proposing his hierarchy of needs.

a. Noam Chomsky b. Carl Rogers c. Abraham Maslow d. Sigmund Freud

6. Rogers believed that providing genuineness, empathy, and ________ in the therapeutic environment for his clients was critical to their being able to deal with their problems.

a. structuralism b. functionalism c. Gestalt d. unconditional positive regard

7. The operant conditioning chamber (aka ________ box) is a device used to study the principles of operant conditioning.

a. Skinner b. Watson c. James d. Koffka

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8. A researcher interested in how changes in the cells of the hippocampus (a structure in the brain related to learning and memory) are related to memory formation would be most likely to identify as a(n) ________ psychologist.

a. biological b. health c. clinical d. social

9. An individual’s consistent pattern of thought and behavior is known as a(n) ________.

a. psychosexual stage b. object permanence c. personality d. perception

10. In Milgram’s controversial study on obedience, nearly ________ of the participants were willing to administer what appeared to be lethal electrical shocks to another person because they were told to do so by an authority figure.

a. 1/3 b. 2/3 c. 3/4 d. 4/5

11. A researcher interested in what factors make an employee best suited for a given job would most likely identify as a(n) ________ psychologist.

a. personality b. clinical c. social d. I-O

12. If someone wanted to become a psychology professor at a 4-year college, they would probably need a ________ degree in psychology.

a. bachelor of science b. bachelor of art c. master’s d. PhD

13. The ________ places less emphasis on research and more emphasis on application of therapeutic skills.

a. PhD b. PsyD c. postdoctoral training program d. dissertation

14. Which of the following degrees would be the minimum required to teach psychology courses in high school?

a. PhD b. PsyD c. master’s degree d. bachelor’s degree

15. One would need at least a(n) ________ degree to serve as a school psychologist.

a. associate’s b. bachelor’s c. master’s d. doctoral

Critical Thinking Questions

16. Why do you think psychology courses like this one are often requirements of so many different programs of study?

17. Why do you think many people might be skeptical about psychology being a science?

18. How did the object of study in psychology change over the history of the field since the 19th century?

19. In part, what aspect of psychology was the behaviorist approach to psychology a reaction to?

20. Given the incredible diversity among the various areas of psychology that were described in this section, how do they all fit together?

21. What are the potential ethical concerns associated with Milgram’s research on obedience?

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22. Why is an undergraduate education in psychology so helpful in a number of different lines of work?

23. Other than a potentially greater salary, what would be the reasons an individual would continue on to get a graduate degree in psychology?

Personal Application Questions

24. Why are you taking this course? What do you hope to learn about during this course?

25. Freud is probably one of the most well-known historical figures in psychology. Where have you encountered references to Freud or his ideas about the role that the unconscious mind plays in determining conscious behavior?

26. Now that you’ve been briefly introduced to some of the major areas within psychology, which are you most interested in learning more about? Why?

27. Which of the career options in the field of psychology is most appealing to you?

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This OpenStax book is available for free at http://cnx.org/content/col31502/1.4

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