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  • Professor Paul Bloom: I'd like to welcome people to

  • this course, Introduction to Psychology.

  • My name is Dr. Paul Bloom. I'm professor of this course.

  • And what this is going to be is a comprehensive introduction to

  • the study of the human mind. So, we are going to cover a

  • very, very wide range of topics including brains,

  • children, language, sex, memory,

  • madness, disgust, racism and love,

  • and many others. We're going to talk about

  • things like the proper explanation for differences

  • between men and women; the question of whether animals

  • can learn language; the puzzle of what grosses us

  • out; the problem of why some of us

  • eat too much and what we could do to stop;

  • the question of why people go crazy in groups;

  • research into whether you could trust your childhood memories;

  • research into why some of us get depressed and others don't.

  • The style of this is there'll be two lectures a week,

  • as well as course readings. Now, to do well in the course,

  • you have to attend both the lectures and do the readings.

  • There will be some overlap. In some cases,

  • the lectures will be quite linked to the readings.

  • But there will be some parts of the readings that will not find

  • their way into the lectures, and some lectures--some entire

  • lectures that will not connect at all to the readings.

  • So, to pursue this course properly you have to do both.

  • What this means is that if you miss a class you need to get

  • notes, and so you should get them from a friend or from the

  • person sitting next to you. The slides are going to be made

  • available online. So, one of the things you don't

  • have to do is you don't have to write this down.

  • You take notes any way you choose, but if you don't get

  • anything on there it'll be available online.

  • I'm going to post it in a format which will be black and

  • white and easy to print out so you don't have to worry about

  • this. But again, attending to the

  • slides is not a substitute for attending class.

  • There's a textbook, Peter Gray's Psychology,

  • 5th edition, and there's also a collection of short readings,

  • The Norton Reader edited by Gary Marcus.

  • It's an excellent textbook; it's an excellent collection,

  • and you should get them both. They're available at Labyrinth

  • bookstore on York Street or you get them online.

  • I should note that last time I taught the course I used the

  • Marcus Reader, and when Professor Marvin Chun

  • taught his course last semester he used Peter Gray's 5^(th)

  • edition textbook. So, there may be a lot of used

  • copies floating around. You should feel free to try to

  • get one of those. The evaluation goes like this.

  • There is a Midterm and there is a Final.

  • The Final will not be held in the exam period,

  • because I like to take long vacations.

  • It will be held the last day of class.

  • The exams will be multiple choice and short answer,

  • fill in the blank, that sort of thing.

  • Prior to the exams I will post previous exams online,

  • so you have a feeling for how these exams work and so on.

  • There will also be review sessions.

  • Starting at the beginning of the third week of classthat

  • is not next week but the week afteron each Monday I'm

  • going to put up a brief question or set of questions,

  • which you have to answer and your answers need to be sent to

  • your teaching fellow. And you'll be given a teaching

  • fellow, assigned one, by Friday.

  • This is not meant to be difficult.

  • It's not meant to be more than five, ten minutes of work,

  • but the point of the question--15,20 minutes of work,

  • but the point of the question is to motivate people to keep up

  • with the material and do the readings.

  • These questions will be marked pass, fail.

  • I expect most everybody could pass all of the questions but

  • it's just to keep you on track and keep you going.

  • There is a book review, a short book review,

  • to be written towards near the end of the class.

  • I'll give details about that later on in the semester.

  • And there's also an experimental participation

  • requirement, and next week I'll hand out a piece of paper

  • describing the requirement. The point of the requirement is

  • to give you all experience actually seeing what

  • psychological research is about as well as to give us hundreds

  • of subjects to do our experiments on.

  • The issue sometimes comes up as to how to do well in the course.

  • Here's how to do well. Attend all the classes.

  • Keep up with the readings. Ideally, keep up with the

  • readings before you come to class.

  • And one thing I would strongly suggest is to form some sort of

  • study groups, either formally or informally.

  • Have people you could talk to when the--prior to the exams

  • or--she's patting somebody next to her.

  • I hope you know him. And in fact,

  • what I'm going to do, not this class because it's

  • shopping period. I don't know who's coming next

  • class, or what but I'll set up a few minutes prior,

  • at the beginning of the class, for people just to introduce

  • themselves to the person next to them so they have some sort of

  • resource in the class. Now, this is a large class,

  • and if you don't do anything about it, it can be very

  • anonymous. And some of you may choose to

  • pursue it that way and that's totally fine.

  • But what I would suggest you do is establish some contact with

  • us, either with me or with any of the teaching fellows,

  • and I'll introduce the teaching fellows sometime next week.

  • You could talk to us at the beginning or at the end of

  • class. Unless there are special

  • circumstances, I always try to come at least

  • ten minutes early, and I am willing to stay late

  • to talk to people. You could come by during my

  • office hours, which are on the syllabus,

  • and you could send me e-mail and set up an appointment.

  • I'm very willing to talk to students about intellectual

  • ideas, about course problems and so on.

  • And if you see me at some point just on campus,

  • you could introduce yourself and I'd like to meet people from

  • this class. So, again, I want to stress you

  • have the option of staying anonymous in this class,

  • but you also have the option of seeking out and making some sort

  • of contact with us. Okay.

  • That's the formal stuff of the course.

  • What's this course about? Unlike a lot of other courses,

  • some people come to Intro Psychology with some unusual

  • motivations. Maybe you're crazy and hope to

  • become less crazy. Maybe you want to learn how to

  • study better, improve your sex life,

  • interpret your dreams, and win friends and influence

  • people. Those are not necessarily bad

  • reasons to take this course and, with the exception of the sex

  • part, this course might actually help

  • you out with some of these things.

  • The study of scientific psychology has a lot of insights

  • of real world relevance to real problems that we face in our

  • everyday lives. And I'm going to try--and when

  • these issues come up--I'm going to try to stress them and make

  • you try to think about the extent to which the laboratory

  • research I'll be talking about can affect your everyday life:

  • how you study, how you interact with people,

  • how you might try to persuade somebody of something else,

  • what sort of therapy works best for you.

  • But the general goals of this course are actually I think even

  • more interesting than that. What I want to do is provide a

  • state of the art introduction to the most important topic that

  • there is: us. How the human mind works,

  • how we think, what makes us what we are.

  • And we'll be approaching this from a range of directions.

  • So, traditionally, psychology is often broken up

  • into the following--into five sub-areas: Neuroscience,

  • which is the study of the mind by looking at the brain;

  • developmental, which is the area which I focus

  • mostly on, which is trying to learn about how people develop

  • and grow and learn; cognitive, which is the one

  • term of the five that might be unfamiliar to some of you,

  • but it refers to a sort of computational approach to

  • studying the mind, often viewing the mind on

  • analogy with a computer and looking at how people do things

  • like understand language, recognize objects,

  • play games, and so on. There is social,

  • which is the study of how people act in groups,

  • how people act with other people.

  • And there is clinical, which is maybe the aspect of

  • psychology that people think of immediately when they hear

  • psychology, which is the study of mental

  • health and mental illness. And we'll be covering all of

  • those areas. We'll also be covering a set of

  • related areas. I am convinced that you cannot

  • study the mind solely by looking at the discipline of psychology.

  • The discipline of psychology spills over to issues of how the

  • mind has evolved. Economics and game theory are

  • now essential tools for understanding human thought and

  • human behavior--those issues connecting to philosophy,

  • computer science, anthropology,

  • literature, theology, and many, many other domains.

  • So, this course will be wide ranging in that sense.

  • At this point I've been speaking in generalities so I

  • want to close this introductory class by giving five examples of

  • the sorts of topics we'll be covering.

  • And I'll start with the topic that we'll be covering next week

  • on Mondaythe brain. This is a brain.

  • In fact, it's a specific person's brain,

  • and what's interesting about the brain is that little white

  • mark there. It's her brain.

  • It's Terri Schiavo's brain. You recognize her more from

  • pictures like that. And what a case like this,

  • where somebody is in a coma, is without consciousness as a

  • result of damage to the brain, is a stark illustration of the

  • physical nature of mental life. The physical basis for

  • everything that we normally hold dear, like free will,

  • consciousness, morality and emotions,

  • and that's what we'll begin the course with,

  • talking about how a physical thing can give rise to mental

  • life. We'll talk a lot about children.

  • This is actually a specific child.

  • It's my son, Zachary, my younger son,

  • dressed up as Spider-Man, but it is Halloween.

  • No, it's not Halloween. Oh.

  • Well, there's more to say about that [laughter].

  • I study child development for a living and I'm interested in

  • several questions. So, one question is just the

  • question of development. Everybody in this room can

  • speak and understand English. Everybody in this room has some

  • understanding of how the world works, how physical things

  • behave. Everybody in this room has some

  • understanding of other people, and how people behave.

  • And the question that preoccupies developmental

  • psychologists is how do we come to have this knowledge,

  • and in particular, how much of it is hard-wired,

  • built-in, innate. And how much of it is the

  • product of culture, of language,

  • of schooling? And developmental psychologists

  • use many ingenious methods to try to pull these apart and try

  • to figure out what are the basic components of human nature.

  • There's also the question of continuity.

  • To what extent is Zachary, at that age,

  • going to be that way forever? To what extent is your fate

  • sealed? To what extent could--if I were

  • to meet you when you were five years old I could describe the

  • way you are now? The poet William Wordsworth

  • wrote, "The child is father to the man," and what this means is

  • that you can see within every child the adult he or she will

  • become. We will look and ask the

  • question whether this is true. Is it true for your personality?

  • Is it true for your interests? Is it true for your

  • intelligence? Another question having to do

  • with development is what makes us the way we are?

  • We're different in a lot of ways.

  • The people in this room differ according to their taste in

  • food. They differ according to their

  • IQs; whether they're aggressive or

  • shy; whether they're attracted to

  • males, females, both or neither;

  • whether they are good at music; whether they are politically

  • liberal or conservative. Why are we different?

  • What's the explanation for why we're different?

  • And again, this could be translated in terms of a

  • question of genes and environment.

  • To what extent are things the result of the genes we possess?

  • To what extent are our individual natures the result of

  • how we were raised? And to what extent are they

  • best explained in terms of an interaction?

  • One common theory, for instance,

  • is that we are shaped by our parents.

  • This was best summarized most famously by the British poet

  • Philip Larkin who wrote, They mess you up,

  • your mum and dad. They may not mean to but they

  • do. They fill you with the faults

  • they had And add some extra just for

  • you. Is he right?

  • It's very controversial. You-- It's been a series of--a

  • huge controversy in the popular culture to the extent of which

  • parents matter and this is an issue which will preoccupy us

  • for much of the course. A different question:

  • What makes somebody attractive? And this can be asked at all