27 Jul Module 1A: A Model for Understanding Psychology
Read the all module 1 and at the end of the pdf fill out the review and reflect part. and there is some questions in the pdf we need to answer them as well.
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Module 1: Introduction and Methods in Psychology Wednesday, July 5 – Monday, July 10
Principles of Psychology, Chapters 1–2 & Appendix
(Pages 1-6; 29-59; 581-604)
Review APA (American Psychological Association)
Ethical Principles (page 1–middle of page 4; section
8–8.09 (middle of page 10–page 11) [Available via
the Course eReserves.]
Module 1 online content
Discussions: Discussion 0: Introduce Yourselves
Module 1 Discussion:
Initial responses due Friday, July 7, 9:00 AM ET
Two peer response due Monday, July 10, 9:00
Leader response due Wednesday, July 12, 9:00
Assessments: Syllabus Quiz due Friday, July 7, 5:00 PM ET
Wednesday, July 5, 7:30–9:00 PM ET
Activity: Complete Module 1 Review and Reflect, due
Tuesday, July 11, 11:59 PM ET
Module 1A: A Model for Understanding Psychology
QUESTION 1 OF 2
What are some of the examples of trauma that were mentioned? Check all that apply:
Tsunamis Accidents Fires Terrorism Storms
By the end of the session students will be able to:
1. Describe a multi-level framework for considering phenomenon in the field of psychology and give an example.
2. Describe types of studies in psychology and outline their uses, strengths, and weaknesses.
3. Describe the difference between correlational (non-experimental) and experimental psychological research and gives examples of each.
4. Describe the research process – from idea to peer review.
5. Describe the three principles governing research ethics. Give examples of each.
Introduction to the Model for Understanding Psychology
Remember back to the course introductory video that was on the course home page, and see if you can respond to the question below.
What do you think of when you hear the word “psychology”?
I always like this cartoon, as I think it represents a common perception of psychology—a therapeutic endeavor where we seek to understand how early
experiences caused folks to have problems (often, how it’s all your parents’ fault!!). Although humorous, it’s a pretty poor idea of what psychology is.
Instead, psychology covers many things, but, at its heart, it is a science of behavior. It shares many principles with other sciences. Psychological
science can be basic—when we try to understand how and why individuals behave the way they do. This is really knowledge for the sake of
knowledge, and that’s important. For example, we might want to understand how human memory works, what factors are associated with healthy child
development, how individuals develop anxiety problems. Psychological science can also be applied—when we try to use that basic knowledge to
change (hopefully improve) human behavior. For example, we may want to use what we know about human memory to improve student performance;
we may want to use what we know about healthy child development to improve early childhood education or parenting; we may want to use what we
know about how anxiety develops to better treat and prevent problems with anxiety.
One of the things that makes psychology so challenging as a field is its tremendous breadth. Psychologists are interested in how the brain works, how
social situations impact individual performance, how early experiences influence the later development of mental health problems, and lots more. The
sheer range of potential questions is overwhelming. This is what can be referred to as the CONTENT (what we know). This also means that we have a
broad range of strategies and methods that are part of psychological research. This is what can be referred to as the PROCESS (how we come to know
it). Throughout this course we will focus on some of these strategies and methods.
But we need to start with a framework—a framework for thinking about complex problems in psychology. The model that you see below is an old but
still influential one—Uri Bronfenbrenner published this model in 1979. What does it show? It illustrates how we have to consider the individual in
context. In his model the individual is in the middle, and they are embedded within other systems. The family, schools, neighborhoods, political
systems, social structures all surround this individual. Now Bronfenbrenner, as a sociologist, was really most interested in these larger systems.
Bronfenbrenner Model of Ecological Systems Theory
Source: Adapted from Hchokr at English Wikipedia
As psychologists, our focus is on the individual. Still, we must think of this individual in context. So, in next illustration, I include an adaptation of this
model that focuses on individual functioning—this will be our framework throughout the semester. Each of these circles is a “level of analysis”; to
understand complex ideas in psychology we often need to understand them at each of these levels:
Understanding Behavior Model Click each of the six labels to learn more below
Examples of the Model for Understanding Psychology
I’d like to illustrate how we can think about complex topics in psychology using this kind of general framework. So, I’m going to use two topics to
illustrate: youth aggression and anorexia nervosa.
Let’s talk about youth aggression
We need a little background. Aggression is a common problem. What’s the time of life when we experience the highest level of individual aggression?
Many of you probably guessed the teenage years, but actually it’s those toddler years! Toddlers are cute, but they can kick, hit, thrown things, bite!
Thank goodness it gets better pretty quickly . . ., and they are small enough that the adults around can typically manage it. Aggression in teens can
lead to many problems, like delinquency and criminal incarceration. The age when a youth begins to show significant aggression begins is often
important in predicting future aggressive behavior. Kids who have high levels of early aggressive behavior (elementary school and younger) seem to be
a different, and potentially more worrisome group, than those who have high levels of aggressive behavior beginning in the teen years (which is usually
more short-term and associated with peer influences). We can also define aggression in various ways—physical, verbal, and/or relational. Physical
aggression is pretty clear—hitting or assaulting others are examples. In verbal aggression we insult, demean or threaten others. In relational
aggression, relationships are manipulated—isolating, shunning, spreading rumors, destroying reputations. Aggression can take place in person or
online; indeed, online or cyberaggression is associated with negative health impacts on youth victims.
Think about youth aggression – In what ways have you experienced this?
Compose your thoughts below and click "save" for the option to review your response later.
Compose your thoughts here
Jot Your Thoughts
So, let’s use our framework to understand youth aggression:
1. The biological level
Wow, we could consider many things, and here are just three. First, human aggression, and that of many other
mammals, is generally higher in males then females, particularly after puberty. Second, we also know that the
male sex hormone testosterone is associated with higher aggression. Administration of testosterone in mice leads
to increases in aggression. Third, we also know that levels of serotonin—a neurotransmitter in the brain—can be
associated with higher aggression. So we know the biological level is important.
2. The psychological level.
Let’s back up a little. Those who study youth aggression distinguish between two additional types: Reactive and
Proactive. Reactive aggression what you might imagine—folks who are being attacked often respond in
kind. When one child hits another child and the second child hits back, that second child is engaging in reactive
aggression. You think someone has insulted you, maybe you insult back. Reactive aggression is emotional and is
in retaliation to perceived slights or aggression from another individual. Proactive aggression, also called
instrumental aggression, is when an individual uses aggression to get something they want or achieve some other
end. Proactive aggression is goal oriented. When a child twists another child’s arm behind their back to force them
to give up their lunch money—that’s proactive aggression. Which one seems a little more concerning to you? (I
hope you said proactive). Although, proactive aggression is also used in war situations and in some sports
We know that the psychological processes involved in these two types of aggression are different. Individuals who
are prone to reactive aggression often have heightened “threat perception”—they expect others to be aggressive
toward them. You could say “their antennae” are up; they expect to be attacked (physically, verbally, or
relationally), and sometimes when we expect to see something we see it even if it’s not there! Let’s say you have
a line of 3rd graders all jostling to see something and one child bumps into another. The child that gets bumped
can think “that child bumped me because they got bumped by another classmate” or “that child bumped me by
mistake” or “that child bumped me on purpose”. The child who makes that last assumption—the “on purpose”
assumption—is more likely to respond with reactive aggression —maybe bumping or hitting the other child back in
The situation is different for proactive aggression. Remember in proactive aggression, the perpetrator uses
aggression to get something. Research has demonstrated that children who tend to use proactive aggression
evaluate problem solutions a little differently than children who don’t tend to use proactive aggression. In one
study children were all presented problems and potential solutions. Proactively aggressive kids tended to evaluate
aggressive solutions more favorably than non-aggressive kids. So proactive aggression seems to be a strategy.
This distinction between reactive and proactive aggression also applies to individuals who engage in domestic
violence or intimate-partner abuse. In domestic violence an intimate partner, say a husband, is aggressive toward
the other intimate partner, say his wife. Some spouses do this because they feel they are being “attacked”,
insulted, or demeaned by their spouse and respond with aggression. In this case they are engaging in reactive
aggression. For others, they use aggression to get what they want in the relationship—bullying or abusing their
partner. These folks are engaging in proactive aggression. This is not to say that one type of aggression is
“better”; but by understanding the psychological level we can understand more about how and why aggression
occurs. Maybe, we can also be more effective in STOPPING aggression.
3. The family level
We know that individuals develop their thought processes and emotions within the context of close relationships.
Interestingly, aggression tends to run in families. Children who are raised in physically abusive families are more
likely than those raised in non-abusive families to go on to either be abusive or be in abusive relationships. You
could say that we learn aggression at our parents’ knees. One way this happens is through modeling—we see how
our parents solve problems and go on to solve problems in a similar fashion, and sometimes that’s an abusive
fashion. Another way this happens is through shaping our expectations—we may learn to expect to be attacked or
demeaned, or we may learn at home that aggression can work for us. That is to say, these experiences at the
family level shape the psychological level. Finally, we know that parental monitoring is important—high aggression
and other delinquent behaviors are less likely when parents know what their kids are up to. We hear a lot about
“helicopter parenting” these days (when parents are overly involved), but lack of parental involvement can be a
real problem too! Family involvement and parental monitoring are important.
4. The larger group level
Some groups consider aggression to be a valid way to solve problems. Think about the mafia or violent street
gangs. In this groups violence is seen as a legitimate way to solve problems and get one’s needs met. This larger
group level of analysis can impact the psychological level—when your group says it is ok you begin to believe that
as well. Of course the larger group level can also impact the family level by influencing the ways in which parents
relate to their children and model behavior.
A particularly interesting line of research has examined “deviancy training” among young delinquent men, where
they reinforce and “one up” one another for their aggressive behavior. You can also see this happening for sexual
aggression—with one young man boasting about his sexual conquests, leading to more and more outlandish
boasts and “legitimizing” more egregious, harassing, aggressive (and possibly illegal) behavior.
5. The cultural level
In some cultures, violence is more normative than in other cultures. If you look at violent crime rates you see
startling differences across countries. Indeed, some cultures glorify violence and aggression. In the USA we
frequently see movies where violent solutions are dramatized, heroes use violence to solve problems, and athletic
events glorify aggression. We believe in “letting him [our adversary] know who is the bosss”—dominance is a big
deal in American culture. Other cultures emphasize getting along, playing your role in the larger, very highly
An interesting example of a powerful cultural factor impacting aggression is what is known as a “Culture of
Honor”. In this system men (almost always men) feel that threats to their honor or reputation (i.e, culturally
unacceptable behavior of a family member, insults, threats, etc) must be answered with violence to re-establish
that honor or reputation. For example, in some cultures female chastity is highly valued, and a woman having
sexual relations outside of marriage (whether consensual or not) is a stain on the family’s honor. In this cultural
framework, killing one’s own female family member may be considered appropriate aggression to restore the
So there are important cultural factors that impact aggression.
What do you know about anorexia nervosa? Anorexia nervosa is a mental health problem that impacts about 0.6% of individuals. Symptoms include self-starvation, severe weight loss and low
body weight. It tends to emerge during the teenage years and to predominantly impact young women. Although not the most prevalent mental health
disorder, Anorexia Nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental health problem—about 20% of those with a diagnosis die as a result of it. Even
when not fatal, it can have terrible consequences. It’s been said that it impacts the “three B’s"— bones, brains, and babies. Let’s focus on bones.
When young people are teenagers their bones are growing and strengthening, with calcium increasing bone health. Individuals with Anorexia
Nervosa aren’t taking in enough calcium and may end up with brittle bones—osteoporosis can emerge very early in individuals with a history
of Anorexia Nervosa.
Young people are also undergoing tremendous growth in their brains, and fat in the diet is important in this process, as it promotes
myelination of axons in the cells of the brain. We will talk more about this process when we learn about the brain. If individuals do not have
enough fat in their diets, brain development may not be optimal.
In order for young women to menstruate, they have to have a certain percentage of body fat. One common complication of Anorexia Nervosa
is a lack of menstruation or what we call amenorrhea; this can have a long-term impact on young women’s fertility. Overall, AN can have
long-term health impacts even when it gets better or resolves.
So how can we use our model to understand Anorexia Nervosa? Again, the framework:
1. The biological level
The hypothalamus is a small region deep within the brain that controls some aspects of our physical functioning
and our behavior.
Experiments with rats demonstrate that damaging a certain part of the hypothalamus can lead to a rat overeating
to a point of severe obesity—an enormous rat! Damaging a different part of the hypothalamus gives you a rat that
starves itself. So the hypothalamus seems to be very important in the control of eating behavior.
Studies using brain scanning (MRI) suggest that other areas of the brain may be involved as well, including the
dorsolateral prefrontal context, parietal cortex and anterior cingulate gyrus. You won’t need to know the particular
regions, but I do want you to recognize that this level of analysis (biological level) is important.
2. The psychological level
Self-Perceptions are crucial as well. One thing we’ve learned is that people with anorexia nervosa tend to see
themselves, not as they are, but in a distorted way. You and I may look at the person and think “what an
extremely thin person!” whereas they may look in the mirror and think “I’m still so heavy!” They may focus on
one part of the body that seems like a problem to them— a thigh perhaps—and focus almost exclusively on that.
Personality plays a role too. Several personality characteristics may predispose someone to develop AN,
particularly perfectionism. Individuals who are perfectionistic have very high standards for themselves and little
room for mistakes or errors. Internalization of a thin ideal—when folks have thoroughly accepted the idea that
thin is beautiful – also places a person at increased risk for developing anorexia nervosa. Understanding this
psychological level has really helped in the development of better treatments for anorexia nervosa.
3. The family level
Although not always, anorexia nervosa seems to happen more in families where parents have very high
expectations for success—this is a disorder that is more common in higher socio-economic groups. Also, anorexia
appears to occur more when parents emphasize appearance as an important value—perhaps this is where the
internalization of the thin ideal begins. Again, this level of analysis impacts other levels, including the
4. The larger group level
Certain groups are more likely to develop anorexia nervosa. In general, rates of anorexia nervosa are higher in
groups where appearance (and especially a thin appearance is valued)—models, dancers, gymnasts. Gay men
appear more likely than non-gay men to develop eating disorders. Group values about appearance and its
importance may be internalized into one’s own value system—part of the psychological level. Again, one level can
5. The cultural level
In our culture, appearance is something that is more highly valued in women (as compared to men), and youthful
appearance (especially for women) is particularly valued. We see this in the media all the time.
As an interesting case study and an example of the importance of cultural factors, rates of eating disorders like anorexia nervosa were exceedingly rare
in Fiji prior to 1995, and behavior like self-induced vomiting and binge eating were low. When researchers returned in 1998 following the introduction
of Western television shows, they found greatly increased rates of these behaviors in a sample of girls, and the majority considered themselves “too
fat”. This speaks to the important role of media in shaping self-perceptions and potentially risk of eating disorders like anorexia nervosa. These cultural
variables also impact parenting. So the levels of analysis interact with one another—one influencing the other.
Important Considerations about Culture
Psychology has been criticized for NOT considering culture adequately. Many of the studies that are conducted do not represent the broader population.
Indeed, psychology (among other disciplines) tends to focus on what are known as WEIRD populations—Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and
Democratic. Thus, it is challenging to generalize to different populations. In the United States of America, research has tended to focus on White
middle- and upper-class populations; lower-income and people of color are not well-represented in our research studies. There has been more effort
made in recent years to include more diverse populations in research AND to consider their perspectives and needs. We have a long way to go as a
discipline in this regard.
Module 1A Summary
So to summarize, I’ve presented a model today in which complex psychological phenomenon must be understood at a variety of levels. I’ve also
provided several examples. In your opinion, what is the best level at which to understand psychological phenomena? What’s the right level of analysis?
Well, I would say that it depends on your goals.
Give this some thought before you show the answer.
Let’s say you want to develop a program to reduce bullying in elementary schools. You want to figure out what factors influence school bullying. Which is the best level?
c. Basic Social Interactions
d. Larger Social Group
Let’s say you want to develop a program to help students to develop better study habits. You need to understand how study strategies influence memory for course material. Which is the best level?
c. Basic Social Interactions
d. Larger Social Group
Do You Remember?
See what you can remember from the previous material by matching the terms to their definitions.
Module 1B: Methods in Psychology
The science of psychology relies on research to uncover knowledge. This portion of the module will focus on the methods of research used in
psychology, but we will also return to this important topic throughout the course. Let’s focus on some basic strategies or designs.
1. Naturalistic Observation
One can systematically observe the real world. You can learn a whole lot by systematically observing the real world. Perhaps some of you know who
Jane Goodall is. She studied chimpanzees in Africa, and by observing their behavior in the real world, she learned a lot that has guided our
understanding of primates. Naturalistic observation has been used in psychology to help us form theories and develop hypotheses for future research.
As another example, let’s say I want to understand more about factors impacting children’s aggression. I could observe them on playgrounds and
carefully track all their aggressive behavior—hitting, kicking, spitting, name calling, all that. I could observe and deduce the situations that tend to lead
to this behavior, the characteristics of those individuals who were aggressive, and the consequences of their actions. I can learn a great deal from this
careful naturalistic observation.
Advantages Disadvantages Best Used
1A Matching Activity
Click the terms (colored purple and bold) and definitions to identify matches. Once you finish the activity you will see the full term list with correct definitions.
Two types of
aggression: proactive and reactive
If you look at violent crime rates you see startling differences
When we try to use that knowledge to change (hopefully improve) human
Some groups consider aggression to be a valid way to
Individuals develop their thought processes and
emotions within the context of close
When we try to understand why
individuals behave the way they do.
Human aggression is generally higher in
males then females. The male sex
hormone testosterone is associated with
The larger group level
Basic psychological science The biological level
The family level The psychological level
The cultural level
Example of an outlier—Shaquille O’Neal's size 22 shoe Taken by David on Flickr: Some rights reserved.
Advantages Disadvantages Best Used
It’s real life Observer bias! The fact that someone is
watching can change behavior. For example, do
you think that children may behave differently
when they know they’re being observed? It’s
also hard to control the many variables that
are there as well
Naturalistic observation is often best used when
first learning about a particular phe
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