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Psychology (5th Edition) by James S. Nairne



Psychology (5th Edition) by James S. Nairne

Author: James S. Nairne

Publisher: Wadsworth Publishing

Genres:

Publish Date: 2008

ISBN-10: 0495504556

Pages: 547

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

TO THE STUDENT

Psychology is the scientifi c study of behavior and mind. It can be a tough subject, but I’m confi dent that you’ll fi nd it fun and even surprising at the same time. You’ll find scores of research studies and hundreds of isolated facts scattered throughout this book, but my main goal is to help you understand the value and usefulness of psychology in your life—to tell you what psychology is for! Toward that end, I’ll show you how your behaviors, thoughts, and emotions help you solve important problems every day.

Everything we do is infl uenced, in part, by our need to solve specifi c problems in our environment. By “problems” I simply mean the challenges we face or the demands we confront as we move through everyday life. We’re constantly dipping into our psychological “tool kit” to solve one problem or another. For example, before you can react, your brain needs to communicate with the environment and with the rest of your body. To communicate internally, your body uses the nervous system, the endocrine system, and to some extent, even the genetic code. We also need to translate the messages from the environment, which come in a variety of forms, into the internal language of the nervous system (which is electrochemical). We solve this problem through our various sensory systems, such as vision and audition. Our survival also depends on our ability to communicate through language and other, nonverbal forms of communication.

You’ll soon see that many of our behaviors and thoughts can be viewed as solutions to such problems or demands. Each chapter begins with a brief preview section entitled “What’s It For?” that describes the function and purpose of the psychological processes that we’ll be studying. Throughout the chapter I’ll then show you how these particular processes help us solve the problems and challenges that we face.

Again, I don’t think you should be expected to understand a topic unless you fi rst know what it’s for! I invite you to browse through the rest of the preface for a preview of how this book is organized. And I hope you will soon begin applying what you learn to situations in your daily life. The study of psychology may be challenging, but above all else it is relevant to everything we do. Have fun!

TO THE INSTRUCTOR

One of the fi rst hurdles we face as instructors of introductory psychology is convincing students that psychology is more than just the study of abnormal behavior. Introduce yourself as a psychologist, and you’re likely to get a response like “Don’t analyze me!” or “I’d better watch what I say around you!” It takes time for students to realize that psychology is a vast interdisciplinary fi eld that includes all aspects of both normal and abnormal behavior. Even after exposure to its breadth, the topics of psychology can remain mysterious and forbidding. Take a look at a typical chapter on learning, for example, and its contents seem to bear little resemblance to our everyday understanding of what it means to “learn.” There are extended discussions of drooling dogs and key-pecking pigeons, but little about the connection between conditioning procedures and the learning problems we face on a daily basis.

In Psychology, Fifth Edition, I focus extensively on the function and purpose of psychological processes. Instead of leading with the facts and methods specifi c to a topic, I introduce each topic as a kind of “solution” to a pressing environmental or conceptual challenge. For example, if you want to understand how we learn about the signaling properties of events (problem), we can look to classical conditioning (solution). Notice the shift in emphasis: Instead of topic followed by function, it’s function followed by topic. I believe this kind of “functional approach” off ers a number of advantages:

1. The student has a reason to follow the discussion.
2. Because the discussion is about an adaptive or conceptual problem, it naturally promotes critical thinking. The student sees the connection between the problem and the solution.
3. The adaptive problem-solving theme extends across chapters.
4. The organization provides an eff ective learning framework.

Each chapter is organized around a set of topics that (a) focus the discussion on the functional relevance of the material and (b) demonstrate that we think and act for adaptive reasons. When we view behavior as the product of adaptive systems, psychology begins to make more sense. Students learn that behaviors (including the methods of psychologists!) are reactions to particular problems. When we emphasize adaptiveness, we relax our egocentric view of the world and increase our sensitivity to why behavior is so diverse, both within and across species. Our appreciation of individuality and diversity is enhanced by understanding that diff erences are natural consequences of adaptations to the environment.

Brief Contents
1 | An Introduction to Psychology 2
2 | The Tools of Psychological Research 26
3 | Biological Processes 56
4 | Human Development 92
5 | Sensation and Perception 134
6 | Consciousness 176
7 | Learning From Experience 212
8 | Memory 244
9 | Language and Thought 278
10 | Intelligence 310
11 | Motivation and Emotion 342
12 | Personality 378
13 | Social Psychology 408
14 | Psychological Disorders 448
15 | Therapy 484
16 | Stress and Health 516
Appendix A–1
Glossary G–1
References R–1
Indexes I–1


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