Posted in AP Psychology

Notes of AP Psychology

History and Approaches of Psychology

Psychology is the study of BEHAVIOR and the MINDBEHAVIOR, a natural process subject to natural laws, refers to the observable actions of a person or an animal. MIND refers to the sensations, memories, motives, emotions, thoughts, and other subjective phenomena particular to an individual or animal that are not readily observed.

Psychology is a SCIENCE because it uses systematic observation and collection of data to try to answer questions about the mind and behavior and their interactions.

Socrates considered the philosophical issues of beauty, justice , and human rights. Plato, a student of Socrates argued that humans posses innate knowledge that is not obtainable simply by observing the physical world. Aristotle, a student of Plato, believed that we derive truth from the physical world. His application of logic and systematic observation of the world laid the basis for the scientific method.


  •  Greeks thought that the world and all things were divided into two parts: body and spirit.
  • It is a theme that recurs often in psychology.
  • The distinction between body and spirit mirrors the current debate around the difference between the BRAIN (the command center of the central nervous system [CNS]) and the MIND (the sensation memories, emotions, thoughts, and other subjective experiences of a particular individual)

René Descartes (1596-1650)

  • He conducted some of the most important speculations on human nature.
  • He believed that the physical world is not under divine influence but rather follows a set of observable laws or rules. 
  • He believed that humans were the exception to this rule because they posses minds which is not observable and is not subject to natural laws.
  • “The mind controls the body.”
  • He believed that the interaction of the body and the mind occurs in the pineal gland, which is located deep within the brain at the top of the brain stem.
  • Finally, he realized that some body movements, which he named reflexes, are not controlled by the mind. 
  • Reflex —- an immediate, unconscious reaction to an environmental event, such as pulling your hand away from a flame.

John Locke (1632-1704)

  • He believed that event the mind is under the control of such laws.
  • Empiricism 
    • the acquisition of truth through observations and experiences.

Human are born knowing nothing.

Essay Concerning Human Understanding
  • Tabula rasa (Latin for “blank slate”) to describe the mind of an infant. 
  • All knowledge must derive from experience.
  • Nurture over nature as the greater influence on development.

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)

  • He believed that the idea of a soul or spirit, or even of a mind, is meaningless.
  • Materialism 
    • the belief that the only exist are matter and energy.
    • Greatly influences behaviorism.
  • Our experience is a by-product of the machinery of the brain.

The 19th century was a time of treat discovery in biology and medicine. They theory of natural selection, a new theory revolutionized science, claimed by Charles Darwin (1809-1882). He published book On the Origin of Species in 1859.
  • He proposed a theory of natural selection 
    • All creatures have evolved into their present state over long periods of time.
  • Overtime, this process selects physical and behavioral characteristics that promote survival in a particular environment.

Evolutionary theory set the stage for psychology by providing a way to explain differences between species and justifying the use of animals as a means to study the roots of human behavior.
  • He is the founder of the science of psychology because he set up the first psychological laboratory in an apartment near the university at Leipzig, Germany. 
  • He used this laboratory to study the mind.
  • Wundt wanted to examine basic cognitive structure, so he made a interview process called Introspection:
    • The subjects were asked to record accurately their cognitive reactions to simple stimuli.

Edward Titchener (1867-1927)

  • He was a student in Wundt’s laboratory and was one of the first to bring the science of psychology to the United States.
  • Structuralism
    • It was used to understand the structure of mind.
    •  the idea that the mind operates by combining subjective emotions and objective sensations. 
  • Introspection
    • the subjects were asked to record accurately their cognitive reactions to simple stimuli.
  • Introspective theories were important in establishing the science of psychology, but they do not significantly influence current psychological thinking.

Interestingly, in the Princeton version of AP Psychology book, it separate Edward Titchener and Wilhelm Wundt into two parts; however, in the Barron’s version of AP Psychology book, it is said that the structuralism and introspection belong to Wundt. For me, if the answer or question include both Wundt and Titchener, then we should choose Wundt. If only Edward Titchener appear on the answer, then we should choose him.

William James (1842-1910)

  • An American psychologist who opposed the structuralist approach.
  • Heavily influenced by Darwin
  • Functionalism
    • He believed that the significant thing to understand is how the mind fulfills its purpose.

Others who associate with William James

Mary Whiton Calkins (1863-1930)

She studied with William James and went on to become president of the American Psychological Association (APA).

Margaret Floy Washburn (1871-1939)

She was the first woman to earn a Ph.D in psychology (because woman don’t have some rights at that time).

G. Stanley (1844-1924)

  • He was the student of William James.
  • He pioneered the study of child development.
  • He was the first president of American Psychological Association (APA)


Approach 1: Biological 

Biological psychology seeks to understand the interactions between anatomy and physiology and behavior. In the field, researchers use some devices, CAT scans, MRIs, EEGs, or PET scans, to help them to do the experiment.

Approach 2: Behavioral Genetics

Behavioral genetics emphasizes that particular behaviors are attributed to specific, genetically based psychological characteristics. 

Approach 3: Behavorial

Behaviorism posits that psychology is the study of observable behavior. Therefore, behaviorists do not care about the mind or mental event because it cannot be observed.  They think that psychologist should only consider stimuli (environmental events) and responses (physical reactions).

There are some important people:

Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936)

  • Classical conditioning 
    • A basic form of learning in which a behavior comes to be elicited by a formerly neutral stimulus.
    • One of the important findings of behaviorist.

John Watson (1878-1928)

He and his assistant Rosalie Rayner applied classical conditioning to humans in the famed Little Albert experiment. 

One of his famous sentence:

Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed ,and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select — doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors.

John B. Watson

B.F. Skinner (1904-1990)

  • He described operant conditioning in which a subject learns to associate a behavioral response with an environmental outcome by using his Skinner Box.
  • Reinforcement
    • environmental stimuli that either encourage or discourage certain responses.

Many behavioral principles are still used in behavior modification —- a set of techniques in which psychological problems are considered to be the product of learned habits, which can be unlearned by the application of behavioral methods.

Approach 4: Cognitive

Cognitive psychology is that to understand people’s behavior, we must first understand how they think.

  • This approach combines both the structuralist approach —- looking at the subcomponents of thought —- and the functionalist approach —- understanding the purpose of thought.
  • Use variety of methods: reaction-time tasks, computer models, and participants’ self reports, to better understand thought.
  • Largely replaced the behavioral approach as the predominant psychological method used in the United States. Also, it remains popular today, and this approach has influenced and blended with others.

Approach 5: Humanistic

Humanistic approach is rooted in the philosophical tradition of studying the roles of consciousness, free will, and awareness of the human condition. 

  • A holistic study of personality that developed in response to a general dissatisfaction with behaviorism’s inattention to the mind and its function.
  • It emphasize personal values and goals and how they influence behavior, rather than attempting to divide personality into smaller components.

Abraham Maslow (1908-1970)

  • Self-actualization
    • the need for individuals to reach their full potential in a creative way.
    • Attaining it means accepting yourself and your nature, while knowing your limits and strengths.

A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself.

Abraham Maslow

Carl Rogers (1902-1987)

He stressed the role of unconditional positive regard in interactions and the need for positive self-concept as critical factors in attaining self-actualization.


They contrasts with the deterministic behaviorist, who theorized that all  behaviors are caused by past conditioning. 

Humanists believe that we choose most of our behaviors and these choices are guided by physiological, emotional, or spiritual needs. 

  • e.g. Humanistic psychologist might explain that an introverted person may choose to limits social contact with other because he or she finds that social needs are better satisfied by contact with a few close friends rather than large groups.

Humanistic ideas are helpful in aiding clients to overcome obstacles in their lives.

Approach 6: Psychoanalytic/Psychodynamic

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)

  • Psychoanalytic theory
    • A theory of human behavior 
  • He drew a distinction between the conscious mind —- a mental state of awareness that we have ready access to —- and the unconscious mind  —- those mental processes that we do not normally have access to but are yet influenced by in some way.

Psychoanalytic theory stresses the importance of childhood experiences and a child’s relationship with his or her parents to the parents to the development of personality.

The focus of the psychoanalytic approach is on the resolution of unconscious conflicts through uncovering information that has been repressed, or buried in the unconscious.

Carl Jung (1875-1961)

He later expanded on the psychoanalytic theory with his concept of the collective unconscious, a part of the individual’s unconscious which derives memory and knowledge from an ancestral memory, common to the human experience.

Approach 7: Sociocultural

Those subscribing to the sociocultural approach believe that the environment a person lives in has a great deal to do with how the person behaves and how others perceive that behavior. 

According to this approach, cultural values vary from society to society and must be taken into account when trying to understand, predict, or control behavior. 

Because different people are born in the different sociocultural background so that people have different mind to do different behavior. In other word, if you want to deeply understand the writer of the book, you have to look his or her background.

Approach 8: Evolutionary

The evolutionary approach focuses on the theories of Darwin. Behavior can best be explained in terms of how adaptive that behavior is to our survival. 

  • For example, fear is an adaptive evolutionary response; without fear, our survival would be jeopardized (endangered).


本名 谢朋钊, 一个普通的文学爱好者。喜欢继承传统和创新,抛弃老的陋习。


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