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Charles Darwin was born on Feb. 12, 1809 at The Mount, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England, and died April 19, 1882. Darwin was an English naturalist renowned for his documentation of natural observations. His evolutionary theories are contained in two works. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (1859), and The Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals (1872). In both he says that humans have evolved physically and psychologically. Darwin has had a profound effect in the study of genetics, biology, psychology, and religion.

Decision Making
Anyone who makes a decision where each alternative considered has both a positive and negative side is predicted to experience "post-decisional dissonance." It is important to appreciate that dissonance is experienced only after a decision has been taken: this is because the alternative taken will always have both positive and negative aspects, and the alternatives rejected will have positive aspects absent from the decision makers choice.

Cognitive dissonance arises for us since the cognitions of having selected an alternative with negative aspects, and rejected others with positive aspects means a trade off has been made. We the decision maker expects and hopes the trade off will prove worthwhile, but we don't know it at the time.

For example you want to buy a car. Your choice is either Car A made by one manufacturer or Car B by another. One way to help decision-making is to draw up a checklist of what you think are the important features are:

Car example for cognitive dissonance

looking for in a car and compare the two lists Having then gone out and bought the Car B you will experience dissonance because you have made a choice in which there are negative features and rejected a choice where there are positive features. Bolstering the alternative decided upon reduces dissonance. This means that information will be selectively sought to make the choice more attractive, and the rejected alternative less attractive.

Ehrlich et al (1957) found that people who had just bought a new car looked at magazines that praised the choice they had made, and at the same time ignored articles etc about the rejected alternative!

Brehm (1956) further demonstrated that people downgrade the rejected alternative and upgrade the accepted alternative. In this experiment a number of women were shown household items, and asked to rate each on its attractiveness. Subsequently each was given a choice of one of the two appliances she had rated most attractive. They got the appliance of their choice and asked to rate the two appliances again. Brehm found, as predicted by dissonance theory, that the appliance chosen was rated as more desirable and the rejected appliance as less desirable than before having made the choice.

Individual decision making operates at so many levels of our lives - from deciding what car to buy, through organisational decisions up to international politics - but at all levels the phenomenon of post-decisional dissonance applies. The point to note is that while pre-decisional behaviour may be rational, justification of the decision taken by cognitive bolstering is not rational.

Deficiency needs
Humanistic psychology believes we are born with a biological drive to be all we can be in terms of our personality. This is called personal growth. What drives us to personal growth is contained within Maslow's Hierarchy of needs. We must first satisfy our lower order deficiency needs before we can fulfill our higher level growth needs. Deficiency needs are physiological, safety, love and belongingness, and esteem.

De Fleur and Westie
De Fleur and Westie (1958) tried to relate specific attitudes to specific behaviour. They surveyed a large number of participants asking specific questions about blacks and whites to try to gain a measure of prejudice. They then selected a number of highly prejudiced people from the sample, and asked whether they would be willing to pose for a photograph with a black. They found prejudiced people less likely to want to exhibit this particular behaviour (unprejudiced participants from the sample were the control group).

Demand characteristics
Orne (1962) writes that demand characteristics are any features of an experiment, which help participants work out what is expected of them, and consequently lead them to behave in an artificial and unnatural way. These features demand a certain response. Participants search for cues in the experimental environment about how to behave and what might be expected of them. The workers in the Hawthorne Effect (also known as participant expectancy) study more than likely sought out cues to work out they were subjects of psychological research, and behaved as they saw fit in response to these demand characteristics.

Dependent Variable
The name given to the variable in experimental research that measures/observes any change in animal or human thoughts, feelings or behaviours as a result of their exposure to the independent variable. As a consequence we can discover if the change or manipulation of an independent variable has caused, or had an effect on how we think, feel, or behave; this change being measured as the dependent variable.

Psychiatrists classify depression as a mood, or affective disorder. Depression comes to between 20-30 men, and 40-90 women per 1000 in the UK. A worrying number go on to commit suicide. The biological approach understands depression from a physical point of view. The depressive patient is having difficulties in producing a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is a mood regulator. To help the patient the biological approach would recommend a drug like paroxtine, better known as Prozac. Prozac acts on the dulled neural receptors in our brain sensitive to serotonin (and noradrenaline and dopamine), and the patient experiences a happier mood state. Unfortunately the biological approach often ignores the real cause of depression, which is something in the patient's environment. We don't just wake up depressed one day for no apparent reason! Something has made us so. Antidepressants such as Prozac control the depressive persons symptoms but don't address the cause(s) of their depression. Complementary counselling is now offered to patients in the more modern of Doctors Surgeries. This is immensely helpful in conjunction with drug treatment to help the person in despair.

The method or model used in psychological research. See experimental designs and non-experimental designs.

Another criticism of behaviourism is that it is deterministic. This means the approach believes we passively respond to stimuli in our environment. We have little free will, or exercise of control over our environment, or the objects, events, and people within it. Not so!

The biological approach also sees a certain inevitability regards thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. This is because it thinks our biology (physiology and genetics) determines, or makes us what we are, and what we will become. This is a naive view of what it means to be human. Biological determinism ignores the great influence positive and negative experiences in environment can have on genotype. The environment a human being finds themselves in grotesquely influences the development of genotype to phenotype.

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Direct Measures
Social psychologists use indirect measures and direct measures to investigate attitudes. Direct measures are rating scales. The two main one's used are the Likert Scale of Measurement and the Semantic Differential Scale.

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Divergent Thinking
Term coined by Guilford (1967) divergent thinking is a type of general thinking ability. Divergent thinkers are those who are very good at seeing a problem and coming up with loads of solutions! They are the creative types. Divergent thinking is right brain thinking. In 1981 Dr. Roger Sperry won the Nobel Prize by showing that the left and right sides of our brain "thinks" differently. The left side is systematic, objective, linear and abstract. The right side is free flowing, creative, sensory and subjective. We each have our "favourite side." I believe psychology is a mid-brain activity favouring both left and right side convergent and divergent thinkers. It has its creative side, and its scientific side. It's a subject for everyone. Or should be! See also convergent thinking.

Divided Attention
Our ability to attend simultaneously to lots of things. We enjoy two states of attention. The other being focused attention. Indeed we switch from divided attention to focused attention all the time. Experienced car drivers exhibit divided attention, simultaneously driving, talking to passengers, talking on their mobile, changing tapes/CD’s etc. When a child steps out in front of them they instantly switch to focused attention, and do an emergency stop. So stressful is focused attention on their physiology that they nearly wet themselves. Or even worse!! When the danger is over, they put the car back into first gear and off they go. Soon once more to go back to our more natural state of divided attention.

Deoxyribonucleic acid. DNA holds the body's protein building instructions, or bases (A, T, C and G). The results of which make us 99.9% similar, but 0.1% different. Psychology sees this 0.1% in terms of our individual differences (intelligence, atypical behaviours, and (possibly) personality).

Hormone important to our mood state, its over-production is thought responsible for the symptoms of schizophrenia. See the dopamine hypothesis.

Dopamine hypothesis, the
The dopamine hypothesis is a biological explanation for schizophrenia put forward by Iverson (1979). He thinks there is a relationship between the neurotransmitter dopamine and schizophrenia, in that schizophrenics produce too much dopamine. Iverson thinks this accounts for their abnormal thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. The dopamine hypothesis is a good example of the relationship between physical cause and physical treatment in the biological approach. Because the cause of schizophrenia is thought to be biological/medical/physical - damage to the part of the brain responsible for producing (normal) amounts of dopamine - treatment is physical. A type of drug called a neuroleptic is given to help moderate the production of dopamine. These include largactil, stelazine and modecate. Dopamine is regularised, but the root cause, physical damage affecting dopamine production is still there. The chemotherapy, or drug treatment, of schizophrenia using neuroleptics is controversial. The side effects can be worse than the original symptoms themselves. For lots more see Higher Psychology: Approaches and Methods.

Dream analysis
Still used today in classical psychoanalytic psychotherapy, dream analysis is according to Freud 'the royal road to the unconscious'. We are often aware of a dream we have just had when we wake up. This is us in touch with our preconscious, or dream state. Most dreams are unconscious wish fulfilment. We dream about what we desire in real life. We also, Freud tells us, dream in commonly shared symbols, many being sexual in nature. Interpretation of dream content is felt useful in traditional psychoanalytic psychotherapy to uncover the unconscious causes of our behaviour.
Dyslexia and Myers-Irlen
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