How to Think Like a Psychologist Critical Thinking in Psychology

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Edition: 2nd
Format: Paperback
Pub. Date: 2001-09-26
Publisher(s): Pearson
List Price: $46.65

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Summary

Students often find the content and methods of their introductory psychology course to be very different from what they expected. In this revision of his supplemental text. Donald H. McBurney explores common questions students ask about psychology. While addressing misconceptions, McBurney reinforces an understanding of basic concepts via a question-and-answer format. Topics are keyed to chapters of typical introductory psychology texts, and everyday examples and exercises that encourage students to think critically and relate the material to their own lives are featured throughout the book. This text is appropriate for freshman through senior-level courses in Introductory Psychology, Research Methods, Critical Thinking, Educational Research, or other courses that deal with philosophical and methodological assumptions of psychology.

Table of Contents

Preface ix
Introduction: What is Critical Thinking? 1(2)
PSYCHOLOGY AND SCIENCE
Why is this Course So Hard?---It's Only Psychology!
3(2)
Why Do Psychologists Use So Much Jargon?
5(3)
Why Don't You Skip the Theories and Give Us More Facts?
8(3)
But That's Just Your Theory!
11(2)
You're So Logical!
13(2)
But You've Taken All the Mystery Out of It!
15(2)
But That Contradicts Something I Believe!
17(2)
How Can Psychology Be a Science if We Have Free Will?
19(2)
METHODS
Why Do I Have to Learn All These Methods? I Just Want to Help People!
21(2)
Why Do I Need to Study Statistics?
23(2)
But the Book Says...
25(2)
But I Read It in a Book!
27(3)
But It Was a Psychology Book!
30(3)
But Everybody Knows...
33(2)
I Thought Psychology Was about People, Not Numbers!
35(2)
BIOLOGICAL BASES
Why Do We Have to Learn about the Brain?
37(2)
But Can We Really Understand Behavior until We Know Its Biological Basis?
39(2)
How Does the Mind Control the Body?
41(2)
But Why Don't We Talk about What the Mind Really Is?
43(3)
But People Aren't Machines!
46(2)
Is It True That We Use Only 10% of Our Brains?
48(2)
DEVELOPMENT
Why Don't Psychologists Believe in Punishment?
50(3)
Isn't Psychology Mostly Common Sense?
53(2)
I Knew It All Along!
55(1)
Is Human Behavior Based on Nature or Nurture?
56(3)
SENSATION/PERCEPTION
Can You Prove There Is No ESP?
59(1)
What Would It Take to Make You Believe in ESP?
60(2)
Imagine the Possibilities if ESP Were True!
62(2)
Why Are Psychologists So Skeptical?
64(2)
CONSCIOUSNESS
How Do You Explain Deja Vu?
66(3)
Wasn't Hypnosis Once Considered a Pseudoscience?
69(2)
LEARNING AND MEMORY
Why Do Psychologists Study Such Artificial Situations?
71(2)
How Does the Rat Understand that Pressing the Bar Gets It Food?
73(3)
How Could That Be a Coincidence? (Part 1)
76(2)
How Could That Be a Coincidence? (Part 2)
78(2)
How Could That Be a Coincidence? (Part 3)
80(2)
THINKING AND LANGUAGE
Can We Hear Satanic Messages in Music That is Played Backward?
82(2)
MOTIVATION AND EMOTION
I Found This Great Self-Help Book!
84(2)
PSYCHOLOGICAL TESTING AND INTELLIGENCE
How Can Psychology Be a Science When Every Person Is Unique?
86(2)
How Do Biorhythms Work?
88(2)
PERSONALITY AND ABNORMAL PSYCHOLOGY
What About Astrology?
90(2)
Why Can't Psychologists Predict Who Will Commit a Violent Act?
92(2)
My Mother Went to a Psychologist Who Was No Help at All!
94(2)
Why Do Psychologists Avoid the Important Questions?
96(2)
Why Are So Many Criminals Let Off on the Basis of Insanity?
98(3)
SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY
Why Are Psychologists So Liberal?
101(3)
Psychological Explanations Often Contradict Common Sense!
104(2)
I Can't Buy Evolutionary Psychology Because It Justifies Polygamy
106(2)
I Can't Buy Evolutionary Psychology Because Most of the Time We Aren't Trying to Pass on Our Genes
108(2)
References 110(3)
List of Principles by Key Words 113

Excerpts

Too often, students find the content and methods of their introductory psychology course to be very different from what they expected. Partly this is because few of them have studied psychology in high school, but the ones who have studied it seem equally alienated by the course, if not more so. After teaching introductory psychology for more than thirty years, I have come to realize that students have many misconceptions about science, and psychology in particular, that serve as impediments to understanding psychology.As a consequence of this realization, I spend much of the class time dealing with these misconceptions. One mechanism for doing this is to have students turn in written questions at the beginning of class for me to answer. This gives me the opportunity to deal with some issues that may seem peripheral to the course but pose significant stumbling blocks to understanding what we think of as the material of the course.This book answers some of the most common questions asked by my students. In so doing, it seeks to motivate students by dealing directly with their real concerns. The answers to their questions illuminate principles of psychology and philosophy of science that present stumbling blocks to students' understanding of psychology.Another stimulus for this book comes from the current interest in teaching critical thinking skills. Too many books, and too many students, appear to treat science in general, and introductory science courses in particular, as a collection of facts to be mastered for an exam. To be sure, one of the essential tasks of an introductory psychology course is to introduce students to a wide variety of technical terms, research paradigms, and empirical data. But the main goal of a psychology course should be to get students to think like psychologists; to apply the same critical skills to human behavior that scientists do.Critical thinking is a very large umbrella for a number of skills and attitudes that educators attempt to instill in their students (e.g., Brookfield, 1987). Instructors have had these same goals from time immemorial. Recently, however, research in cognitive psychology applied to the learning process (Resnick, 1987) demonstrates two principles that are significant to teaching critical thinking in psychology: (1) Critical thinking is not learned in the abstract, but in the specific subject matters of the various disciplines; and (2) the skills needed for critical thinking vary from discipline to discipline:One cannot reason in the abstract; one must reason about something .... Each discipline has characteristic ways of thinking and reasoning .... Reasoning and problem solving in the physical sciences, for example, are shaped by particular combinations of inductive and deductive reasoning, by appeal to mathematical tests, and by an extensive body of agreed upon fact for which new theories must account. In the social sciences, good reasoning and problem solving are much more heavily influenced by traditions of rhetorical argument, of weighing alternatives, and of "building a case" for a proposed solution .... Only if higher order skills are taught within each discipline are they likely to be learned. (p. 36)I believe that the answers to the questions posed in this book provide a highly motivating way to help students develop the skills necessary to think like psychologists.This book takes a different approach to critical thinking than most others do. The principles covered do not map especially well onto the list of skills generally promulgated as characterizing critical thinking, which tends to be less domain specific. Rather, the book models the process of critical thinking and encourages the student to engage in it. John McPeck (1990) says:I think that the phrase "critical thinking" refers to a certaincombinationof what we might think of as a willingness, or dis

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