Learning Objectives

Psychology 3309-090 - Critical Issues In Psychology

Instructor - Dr Jeremy Jackson


Example Multiple Choice Questions - Click here

Grammar - Click here

Potential Short Answer Quiz Questions


1) Describe the effect of the prevailing view in science on the impact and acceptance of new ways of thinking. Use examples from the text and from class to support your answer.

2) What is metaphysics? Give examples of metaphysical questions and relate these examples to current issues in modern psychology.

3) What is epistemology? Describe 3 epistemological theories and be able to give an example of how each theory would address a particular problem in modern psychology.

4) Aristotle as well as other early Greek philosophers set the tone for many important problems in psychology. What was Aristotle’s basic method in the philosophy of science? Give specific examples of how he used his method to address metaphysical questions.

5) What is inductive definition? Describe Socrates’ method of inductive definition and discuss what motivated him to develop his method. Is the logic of inductive definition clearly sound? Why or why not?

6) Describe Karl Popper’s views about the nature of scientific theories. Be sure to make clear what he thought distinguished good from bad scientific theories. Give an example of a good and bad scientific theory from Popper’s point of view.

7) What is the mind/body problem and what are the two basic positions on the problem? Give an example of the existence of the mind/body problem in psychology today.

8) Describe the contribution of each of the three major areas of work (philosophy, physiology and psychophysics) that resulted in the development of psychology as a science.

9) Distinguish between structuralism and functionalism. Name the very basic differences between the two positions and what might have motivated the development of these two views in psychology. Which of these two schools of thought is most influential in psychology today and why? Name the major figures in the historical development of these two schools of thought.

10) Distinguish between Wundt’s empirical work (his research), Wundt’s theory of consciousness and his philosophy of science. Describe each and show that they are different forms of investigation.



11) Describe very carefully Watson’s position as given in his 1929 paper “Behaviourism – The Modern Note In Psychology”. What problem was he attempting to address with his new formulation of psychology? Was he right?

12) What is a mental element?

13) What are operationism and positivism? How did they influence the transition of psychology from the functionalist to the behaviourist era? Are we purely operationist in psychology today? Why or why not?

14) Do you think the following statement makes sense, why or why not? “Since consciousness has never and could never be directly observed, at best, it is a hypothetical construct and so should not be a part of scientific psychology.”

15) Describe the logic of construct validation theory and its importance to the history of psychology. Include in your answer: a) the problem that CV theory addressed, b) the difference between operationism and CV theory, and c) the basic logical error of CV theory according to operationism.

16) Discuss the historical use of analogies for the mind/mental phenomena in psychology. Talk about the types of analogies that have been used by psychologists and philosophers to help understand the nature of mental phenomena. Discuss the sense in which cognition is similar to consciousness and, hence, the sense in which the problem of cognitive psychology is similar to the problem of structuralism and functionalism.

17) According to Niesser, what is cognition? What kind of phenomena are cognitions? Are cognitions directly observable? What is the role of cognitions in scientific psychology (how do we use the idea in psychology)?


18) You have now completed the course material for 3309. You have seen many presentations and covered a lot of ground on the fundamental problems of psychology. You have been introduced to the basic problem of psychology:

"what is the subject matter of psychology (so, for instance, what is a memory, what is a thought, what is consciousness)?"

and you have seen how this problem has been treated throughout the history of psychology. You have seen the four basic approaches that have been used to address the problem (metaphysics, operationism, CV Theory, and the OLV), and are clear that there are fundamental disagreements and fundamental incompatibilities between these four approaches. You have also seen that the problem of the nature of psychological phenomena is not merely philosophical or "academic". You should now be aware, at least in the case of mental disorder, that the problem has immediate, enormous, and current significance.

Considering all that you have learned, what is the basic lesson that you will take with you in to your other courses and your life in general from your new understanding of this issue?

19) Select a single concept from a modern psychology text and show that there are both theories about what it is and definitions of it.

20) What did Wittgenstein say about the role of language in psychology? How does this relate to what Szasz said about the nature of mental illness?

21) According to Hacker, what is the mind? What would Hacker say about the position of Rene Descartes (the 17th century Cartesian view) that the mind is a kind of entity that interacts with the brain at the pineal gland? (Hint: watch "Hacker in Holland" and "Hacker in Oxford" very carefully)