1. Which of the following would come the closest to an overall definition of the science of psychology?

a. the science of the mind
b. the science of mental processes in men and animals
c. the science of human emotions
d. the science of human and animal behavior

2. Naive explanations of human behavior:

a. are useless in helping to predict the behavior of other people.
b. are usually stated in a clear and unambiguous form.
c. are a vital part of the science of psychology.
d. are usually based on informal personal observations.

3. What is the major data source for the science of psychology?_________________________________________________

4. If we intend to accept a hypothesis about human behavior as a scientific explanation, we must insist that:

a. the kinds of evidence one would use in determining whether it was accurate or not
be specified.
b. the position be supported with a loud argument.
c. 95% of the population believe it to be correct.
d. (All of the above.)

5. Which is true?

a. The science of behavior is an ancient practice.
b. Only overt behaviors can be observed accurately.
c. Psychologists prefer to reach conclusions from exact statements about human behavior.
d. All are true.

6. Which of the following is true of covert behaviors?

a. They may be either public or private events.
b. They are the major data source for the science of psychology.
c. They are only detectable by the person performing them.
d. None of the above.

7. Which of these would be classified as an overt behavior?

a. Thinking of doing the dishes.
b. Dreaming.
c. Writing your congressman.
d. None of these.


NOW DO THE Exercises


Read each of these exercises carefully and answer the questions posed. To check your responses, use the number printed at the end of the line to locate the correct answer at the bottom of the page. For example, the answer to the first exercise may be found next to the 4 at the bottom of this page.

Skinner's picture Psychologist B. F. Skinner (1971 ) noted: "Twenty-five hundred years ago it might have been said that man understood himself as well as any other part of his world. Today he is the thing he understands least." What might we infer from this statement?

a. Psychology is an ancient science.
b. Psychology is a weil-defined science.
c. We know nothing about human behavior.
d. Psychology as a science has lagged behind other sciences.

______________________________________________ 4

Examine the following comparisons of naive and scientific explanations of behavior:


They are usually stated in an ambiguous fashion and are frequently contradictory. They are usually based on subjective personal observations.

They are frequently helpful in dealing with individuals we know very well in day-to-day interactions.

Scientific They are stated in clear and unambiguous terms. They are usually based on some form of objective obser vation.

Scientific They enable us to predict probable future behaviors with confidence if we know enough of the relevant factors.

Which of these statements would be true of naive explanations of human behaviors

a. They are usually stated in an unambiguous form.
b. They are often based on our observations.
c. They are never helpful in enabling us to predict the behavior of individuals.
d. They are highly accurate.
e. They are an important part of the science of psychology

The method of introspection requires a person to tell us about his inner states. Since we cannot see the state he is referring to, we can only infer it from his verbal report. However, verbal reports are frequently unreliable. For example, if someone says, "I am angry!":

a. we can be absolutely sure he is indeed feeling anger.
b. we can be absolutely sure he has made a verbal statement.

__________________________________________________________________ 5

When it is available, psychologists prefer to work with behavior that is public as data for psychology. But unlike John B. Watson, most psychologists acknowledge that private behaviors also have a legiti- mate place in the science.

They are very cautious when studying private events and usually insist on precise methodological control when such events are in- ferred from overt behavior. Why?_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2

Psychologists want evidence, not just pronouncements of knowl- edge. In which case would a psychologist be satisfied that an expla- nation of human behavior is acceptable, at least as a hypothesis worthy of further attention?

a. If an expert proclaims it to be true
b. If the person who states it believes in it very strongly
c. If the person who states it presents an argument in support of the hypothesis.
d. None of these.
_______________________________________________________________ 3


1 b
2. verbal reports of private events are often unreliable or misleading
3 d (Only if the person who makes a statement also gives the evidence required to prove its validity, would a psychologist consider accepting it.)
4 d
5 b (Note that he may be lying or an actor playing a part)

This does not mean we cannot study hypotheses which are not yet proven; we can. But the person who is making the statement must at least be able to indicate what kind of evidence would support his hypothesis. Suppose someone hypothesized: "Peanut butter is a powerful incentive for work." In which case should we consider the hypothesis worthy of further examination?

a. If he said, "Well, I like peanut butter and I work hard"
b. If he cited a large number of instances in which children did work harder than usual in order to receive a spoon- ful of peanut butter
c. If he obtained a sworn statement from the peanut but- ter expert that peanut butter is a powerful incentive
d. None of the above.
_________________________________________________________ 6

We have said that psychology is the study of human and animal behavior. If a person is ill, the psychologist would not be concerned with the disease, its cause, or its cure. But he may study the way a person acts when he is suffering from that disease. If a psychologist is studying cancer patients, he might be concerned about:
a. how the patients adjust to the social life of the hospital.
b. the changes that take place in the cancerous cells.
c. what radiation equipment is used in treatment.
_____________________________________________ 2

In our study of human behavior we prefer to use public behaviors as our data. By "public," we mean those that two or more observers can verify independently. Which of these is a public behavior to observers who must rely only on their unaided senses?
a. Scheming
b. Scratching
c. Itching

Overt behaviors can be detected by other people with their unaided senses. Therefore all overt behaviors are public. Which of these are overt behaviors?
a. Feeling good
b. Smiling
c. Laughing

Overt behavior is:

external; it can be detected by others with their unaided senses.

a public event; two or more people can verify it independently.

Covert behavior is:

internal; it can often be detected by the person doing it, but cannot be detected by others except, in some cases, with the use of special equipment.

either a public or a private event; if it can be detected by special devices, it could be made public, but if it is not susceptible to such measurement, it would be classified as private.

As can be seen in the above summary, some covert behavior may be made public by using special detecting devices such as microphones, lie-detectors, machines which measure brain waves and so on. Which of these are public behaviors?
a. running
b. a heart beat that a doctor listens to through his stetho scope
c. muscle activity which is picked up by an electronic detecting device
d. none of these
______________________________________________ 4

John B. Watson took the extreme position that only public behaviors are proper data for psychology. Which of these human activities would Watson not accept, given the measuring devices available in 1913?
a. Swimming
b. Frowning
c. Imagining
d. Rapid breathing

3 c
4 a, b, c Note: Even though the heartbeat and muscle tone are covert, some components of them can be made public so that objective observers can report them.
5 b,c
6 b

Now take Progress Check 2


1. A statement based in part on our own observations and experiences, but which is phrased in an ambiguous and vague manner, may be considered to be a _____________________explanation of human behavior.

2. Which of these can be classified as an overt behavior?
a. Daydreaming
b. Worrying about taxes
c. Imagining you are flying an airplane
d. None of these

3. The most generally applicable definition of psychology is: __________________________________________________

4. Before even considering a hypothesis about human behavior as a scientific explanation, we should insist that:
a. it be stated in mathematical terms.

b. it be accompanied by the kinds of evidence one would use in determining whether or not it is valid.
c. the position be supported with a strong sensible argument.
d. a large number of people be found who will agree that it is correct.

5. Which is true?
a. Until recently, most of what we knew about the behavior of man was unorganized and imprecise.
b. In ancient Greece, people knew almost nothing about their own behavior.
c. Both of these
d. Neither of these

6. Which is true of covert behaviors?
a. No covert behavior can be made public.
b. Covert behaviors are those that go on inside the skin.
c. They have usually provided psychologists with more reliable data than overt behaviors.
d. None of these