Week 1: Psychology as a Science

Welcome to Introduction to Psychology! Are you excited to embark on this journey together? The roots of psychology reach back to ancient times. As you can imagine, theories about human behavior and mental process have evolved and grown since then. This course introduces you to some of those theories and the tools that psychologists use to uncover the secrets of how the brain is connected to our thoughts, feelings, and behavior.

By the end of this term, you will learn to think like a psychologist by taking a scientific approach to understanding observable behaviors and internal experiences such as feelings, sensations, and perceptions. As you progress through the course, you may find many of your current beliefs about behavior and internal experiences do not hold up to the test of science. That is good! That means you are learning to think like a psychologist. Please watch this video introduction to learn more about psychology as a science and what you can expect as you begin your study of psychology.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2015c). Psychology as a science. [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 8 minutes.
Accessible player –Downloads–Download Video w/CCDownload AudioDownload Transcript

Learning Objectives

Students will:
  • Apply research methods to the scientific study of consciousness
  • Assess understanding of psychology as a science
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the evolution of psychology and research
  • Differentiate between behavioral and cognitive approaches
  • Demonstrate understanding of research ethics


Discussion: Consciousness and Research Techniques

In some of your weekly Discussion forums, your Instructor will provide a Discussion Spark that comes before the Main Discussion. The Discussion Spark is a question that is meant to get the conversation started early in the week and prepare you for the weekly Main Discussion by focusing on an idea related to the weeks topics. You do not need to use your weekly Learning Resources to answer the Discussion Spark. Instead, your response to the Discussion Spark should be based on your prior knowledge and experience. While you are required to answer the Discussion Spark, you do not need to spend as much time on it as you would for your Main Discussion post. The Discussion Spark and the Main Discussion will be graded together. You will see one score in your My Grades area. Refer to the Discussion Rubric, located in the Course Information area, for details on how this discussion will be graded.

Be sure to read the Discussion Spark topic/question or comment posted by your Instructor in the Discussion Thread on Day 1

By Day 2

Discussion Spark

When you hear the word psychology, what images come to mind? What about psychologist? Consider these images, and then ask yourself where you believe your mental pictures may come from. Psychology is a prominent field in the cultural landscape. References to psychology and its practitioners and researchers abound in popular culture, through film, television, and other media. Some of the images may be accurate, and many may not. Because many references come from ideas obtained through popular culture, you may already possess some thoughts about the field of psychology. It may be a field that you feel acquainted with, but which you may not feel you know very deeply. You will learn more about the science of psychology in the coming weeks, but lets take a look at your current understanding of the field.

Post a 1- to 2-paragraph response to the following Discussion Spark in the Discussion Spark thread for this week.

Introduce yourself to the class. What is one belief you have about psychology? Briefly explain your understanding of what the field of psychology is.

By Day 3

Main Discussion

Every day, we make countless decisions, some trivial and some high-stakes. Sometimes you do things consciously, and sometimes you do things based on a hunch or habit, seemingly without conscious thought. Either way, you could be acting on misguided or erroneous ideas and information. But how do you know? As a student of any field of study, you will be faced with various ideas, concepts, and beliefs. Of course, you should not blindly accept everything you hear or read; instead, you must critically evaluate information to determine fact from fiction, science from myth, good decision from poor choice. The Week 1 Discussion asks you to reflect on your decision-making experiences and describe how you might use the research methods you learned about this week to compare conscious and unconscious processing in people.

After reviewing this weeks readings and the video from the Week 1 Introduction, post a response to the following:

Describe a time when you have consciously deliberated about buying something. Describe how you know the process was conscious. Were you satisfied with your decision? Explain why or why not, tying in the concepts you learned about this week. Describe a time when you unconsciously deliberated about buying something. Describe how you now know the process was unconscious. Were you satisfied with your decision? Explain why or why not, tying in the concepts you learned about in this chapter. Describe a research technique from Chapter 1 that you could use to study conscious versus unconscious processing in people.

Support your assignment post with at least one reference (textbook or other scholarly, empirical resources).

By Day 5

Response instructions:

Support your reply to a colleagues assignment post with at least onereference (textbook or other scholarly, empirical resources). You may state your opinion and/or provide personal examples; however, you must also back up your assertions with evidence (including in-text citations) from the source and provide a reference.

Respond in one or more of the following ways:

  • Ask a probing question and provide insight into how you would answer your question and why.
  • Ask a probing question and provide the foundation, or rationale, for the question.
  • Expand on your colleagues posting by offering a new perspective or insight.
  • Agree with a colleague and offer additional (new) supporting information for consideration.
  • Disagree with a colleague by respectfully discussing and supporting a different perspective.

Important Note: For all Main Discussions in this course, you are required to complete your initial post before you will be able to view and respond to your colleague’s postings. Begin by clicking on the “Week 1 Discussion” link and then select “Create Thread” to complete your inital post. Remember, once you click submit, you cannot delete or edit your own posts, and cannot post anonymously. Please check your post carefully before clicking Submit!

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