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MPTUO1a: Introduction to Psychology
Week 1 / Unit 1: Scientific Inquiry

Scientific Inquiry. “The diverse ways in which scientists study the natural world and propose explanations based on the evidence derived from their work.” [1]

This learning week, you will discover perspectives in psychological science, research methods, measurement, and statistics. The following is a sample of the lesson schedule for this week. It is flexible and may change at the instructor’s discretion to accommodate students’ learning needs.

 Unit 1 Topics

Introduction to Perspectives in Psychological Science

  1. Biological
  2. Behavioral
  3. Cognitive
  4. Humanistic
  5. Psychodynamic
  6. Sociocultural
  7. Evolutionary
  8. Biopsychosocial

Introduction to Research Methods in Psychology

  1. Research Methods
  2. Measurement
  3. Statistics

 Required Reading


Write descriptions for the following topics in your own words.

Development of psychology as an empirical science

1.1 Define psychology as a discipline and identify its goals as a science.

    • Psychology is the scientific study of behavior and mental processes. The goals of psychology are to describe, explain, predict, and control the behaviors and mental processes of both humans and animals.

1.2 Describe the emergence of psychology as a scientific discipline.

    • Psychology needed time to consolidate and so took a while to emerge as a scientific discipline. Wilhelm Wundt developed the first psychology lab in 1879.

Major subfields within psychology

  • 2.1 Discuss the value of both basic and applied psychological research with human and non-human animals.
    • Basic research in psychology typically refers to theory-driven, hypothesis-testing science driven by a quest for fundamental understanding. Applied psychology is motivated more by a desire to solve practical problems and to move the fruits of our scientific labor into the real world.
    • Research with nonhuman animals occupies a central and essential role in psychology. … Making the connections among animal studies, scientific progress, and advances in human health is the critical foundation for public understanding of why animal research is valuable.
  • 2.2 Describe the major subfields of psychology.
  • 2.3 Identify the important role psychology plays in benefiting society and improving people’s lives.
    • Essentially, psychology helps people in large part because it can explain why people act the way they do. With this kind of professional insight, a psychologist can help people improve their decision making, stress management and behavior based on understanding past behavior to better predict future behavior

Research methods and measurements used to study behavior and mental processes 

  • 3.1 Describe the scientific method and its role in psychology.
    • Psychologists use the scientific method to conduct their research. The scientific method is a standardized way of making observations, gathering data, forming theories, testing predictions, and interpreting results. Researchers make observations in order to describe and measure behavior.
  • 3.2 Describe and compare a variety of quantitative (e.g., surveys, correlations, experiments) and qualitative (e.g., interviews, narratives, focus groups) research methods.
  • 3.3 Define systematic procedures used to improve the validity of research findings, such as external validity.
    • Internal and external validity are concepts that reflect whether or not … Internal validity depends largely on the procedures of a study and how rigorously it is performed. … for some characteristic (such as age), reweighting might be used. … implications in terms of whether the results of a study have meaning.
  • 3.4 Discuss how and why psychologists use nonhuman animals in research.
    • There are important ethical and scientific reasons why animals are sometimes used in psychological and behavioral research. Although human subjects are used in most behavioral studies, there is potentially valuable research that cannot be done with humans. One example is research on drug addiction. Drugs are administered to animals in an effort to discover the behavioral and physical basis of addiction. This preliminary research cannot be done ethically with human subjects.
    • Animals are typically used when time requirements, risk, or other conditions make it impossible to use humans. For example, some investigations into the process of aging are not practical with humans, who live 75 to 80 years. Scientists may get deeper insight into some aspects of aging by studying rats, which live an average of two years, or monkeys which live 15 to 20 years, because the shorter life span yields crucial data on aging in a much shorter time.
    • Other experiments may require large numbers of subjects of the same size, weight, or genetic make-up, or may restrict subjects to special diets or confine them to a particular environment or set of events. Studies of this sort would not be possible with humans.

Ethical issues in research with human and non-human animals 

Basic concepts of data analysis 

Major Assignments and Deadlines

  • First day of classMonday, August 3.
  • Participation. Make a minimum of 2 original discussion posts and 2 responses to your classmates. Due Saturday, August 8, at midnight.
  • Participate. Make a minimum of 2 original comments or discussion posts and 2 responses to someone else
  • Watch the Unit 1 Videos.
  • Study the Unit 1 Slides.
  • Review the Unit 1 Resources.
  • Review the Unit 1 Study Guide.
  • Take 2 Quizzes
    • Quiz 1: Introduction to Psychology
    • Quiz 2Research Methods
    • Take the Unit Exam due Sunday, August 9, at midnight.


  1. Models of scientific inquiry. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved June 3, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Models_of_scientific_inquiry
  2. Heffner, Dr. Christopher L. (2001, April 1). Psychology 101. All Psych. https://allpsych.com/psychology101/
  3. Dewey, Dr. Russell A. (2017). Psychology: An Introduction. Psych Web. https://www.psywww.com/intropsych/
  4. The American Psychological Association’s Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (APA TOPSS) course template.

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