PSYCH101: Introduction to Psychology
Unit 1: The History and Methods of Psychology
"Psychology has a long past but a short history." This brief statement by one of the pioneers of psychological research, Herman Ebbinghaus, captures the history of psychology as a discipline. Though it is relatively new as a formal academic subject, the questions it seeks to answer have been around since the beginning of man. In this unit, we will review the history of psychology as a discipline, by learning about both its ancient philosophical ("prescientific") roots and its more recent reincarnation as a "scientific" field of study.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 6 hours.
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:
- identify the role of major researchers and theorists in the development of the field of psychology, including William James, Wilhelm Wundt, Sigmund Freud, Max Wertheimer, Kurt Koffka, Wolfgang Köhler, Ivan Pavlov, John B. Watson, B.F. Skinner, Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, Jean Piaget, Lawrence Kohlberg, Noam Chomsky, and Erik Erickson;
- characterize the following schools of thought: Structuralism, Functionalism, Behaviorism, Psychoanalysis, Humanism, and Gestalt Psychology;
- describe the scientific method, research methods in psychology, and the principles of scientific experiment planning and design; and
- understand data analysis techniques and experimental methods commonly used in psychology research.
Psychology is a social science. Take a look at this video to explore how psychology fits within the other social sciences. After watching, you should be able to explain how psychology is a unique discipline.
Read the Introduction and four sections of Chapter 1. As you read, consider these questions:
- Why do you think psychology courses like this one are often requirements of so many different programs of study?
- Why do you think many people might be skeptical about psychology being a science?
- How did the object of study in psychology change over the history of the field since the 19th century?
This article answers to the question "What is psychology?" The field's name derives from the roots psyche, meaning soul, and -ology, meaning scientific study. Therefore, the field of psychology is the scientific study of mind and behavior. Students of psychology develop critical thinking skills, become familiar with the scientific method, and learn to recognize the complexity of behavior. Think about your own definitions of psychology and mental health. How have these evolved over the years?
Before moving on, you should be comfortable with these topics:
- The importance of Wundt and James in the development of psychology
- Freud's influence on psychology
- The basic tenets of Gestalt psychology
- The important role that behaviorism played in psychology's history
- The basic tenets of humanism
- The way the cognitive revolution shifted psychology's focus back to the mind
Read this chapter to learn about the concepts surrounding the scientific method, which is the basis for conducting scientific research. Pay particular attention to section 2.2, "Approaches to Research," which covers important topics related to research methods in psychology. After reading this chapter, you will understand important terminology and concepts associated with psychological research, such as experimentation, causality, correlation, validity, reliability, and hypothesis testing.
Watch this lecture on research methods in psychology. Pay close attention to why correlation does not imply causation and how other variables can influence a relationship between two factors.
The American Psychological Association (APA) is the leading organization representing psychology in the United States. The APA is a valuable resource for psychology students and career psychologists as the organization not only promotes psychology as a discipline but it also outlines a code of professional ethics psychologists must abide by. Aside from advancing the field and providing valuable career advice, the APA also outlines a framework for psychologisits to write about research and the field, in general. The "APA citation format" has become a standard publication format within psychology and even across some other social sciences. When writing about psychology research, writers must acknowledge previous scholars' work by properly citing their work. As you read through this sub-unit's course materials, pay attention to how writers are to pay proper credit and how the type of publication (e.g., journal article, book, book chapter, website) a writer refers to affects the citation. Similarly, pay attention to the fact that all cited publications in a text must be listed in a reference list.
Read this page, which provides an overview and specific examples of APA citation and research writing.
Take this assessment to check your understanding of the materials presented in this unit.
- There is no minimum required score to pass this assessment, and your score on this assessment will not factor into your overall course grade.
- This assessment is designed to prepare you for the Final Exam that will determine your course grade. Upon submission of your assessment you will be provided with the correct answers and/or other feedback meant to help in your understanding of the topics being assessed.
- You may attempt this assessment as many times as needed, whenever you would like.