AP Psychology/Introduction

Introduction to the AP Psychology course and the basic psychological principles needed for the remaining sections in this course.

Study NotesEdit

Psychology: The scientific study of the mind and behavior
Empiricism: A concept from John Locke, in which knowledge in science should be backed up by experimentation and observation.

The origin of psychology goes back to Ancient Greek, in which philosophers started questioning themselves and human nature. Psychology officially becomes its own science in 1879.

Mind's structure/function
  • Structuralism - A school of psychology that teaches "introspection" (looking within) and looks into the mind interpreting subjects as structures ("elements of the mind"). Edward Titchener is the founder of this school of thought, in which he wanted to discover the immediate thoughts relating to a certain item (immediate feelings about fear: sweaty, fast heart-beat). It is proven to be unreliable as recollections differ between person to person and people are known to recount incorrectly.
  • Functionalism - A school of psychology that teaches about the performance/function of a certain subject (fear: awakens you, gets you out of danger, more careful, act faster). William James was inspired by an evolutionist, Charles Darwin, and sought to discover the ways these subjects evoked and allowed us to act.
Wilhelm Wundt, the first recorded psychologist

Wilhem Wundt was the first psychologist to establish a psychology lab (in Germany). He performed an experiment where:

  1. The ball is dropped, the lever is pushed.
  2. The ball is dropped, but the lever is only pushed if the person is consciously aware of the ball dropping.

G. Stanley Hall was the first president of the APA, first American to receive a degree in psychology and established the first US psychology lab.

Mary Whiton Clarkins: Denied a psychology degree because she's a woman. First female president of the APA.

Margaret F. Washburn: Student of Edward Titchener. The first female to receive a psychology degree. Second female president of the APA and wrote The Animal Mind.

Dorthea Dix: Wanted more humane treatment of the mentally ill.

Psychology BranchesEdit

7 Views of Human NatureEdit


Also known as "psychoanalytic", psychodynamic is the thought in which human behavior stems from unconscious desires and behavior from his/her early years (the past). This includes repressed memories and dream interpretation. This thought process originates from Sigmund Freud. For example, a psychologist with the psychodynamic approach might view an outburst as originating from unconscious anger.


In the cognitive approach, the main target is the way a person thinks. Human behavior is organized by how the mind interprets the information it receives.

  • John Piaget - Focused on child development.

In the behavioural approach, behaviourism originates from the learning and observing of other people and their responses to different situations.

  • B.F. Skinner - Used pigeons and rewarded them when they completed a task successfully.
  • Ivan Pavlov - Observed behaviour of dogs.
  • John B. Watson - Performed the Little Albert Experiment, where a baby was scared in order to test learned behaviours)

In the humanistic approach, a person's behaviour depends on her/his goals in life. It also makes love a necessary factor in a fruitful life.


Behaviour originates from genetics. An example of this is that depression occurs in a human being because of the lack of serotonin.


Behavior originates from societal influences. An example of this is if a person is rude to his/her parents, this is because society has considered this practice a norm.


This psychological approach consists of three distinct fields. Biological (genetics), psychological (learned; cognitive responses) and social (society influence and expectations). Usually, if a question presents all three fields in a scenario, it is probably biopsychosocial.


In the Gestalt principle, the brain arranges things as a pattern or as a "whole". This is so that the mind can easily interpret information. These are the principles of Gestalt:

  • Proximity - We combine figures that are in close proximity to each other.
  • Similarity - We combine figures that are similar in features.
  • Continuity - We combine figures that are continuous together vs discontinuous together.
  • Connectedness - We combine figures that are attached together as one.