Eric Chapdelaine
Student at Northeastern University Studying Computer Science.


PSYC1101 - Midterm 1


What is psychology?

The study of the mind and human behavior.

What are the major subfields of psychology?

Why is considering different levels of analysis important?

The different levels of analysis:

The big 3 are:

Each gives a different sense to look at a particular observation with. They are all complementary.

Thinking Like a Scientist (Statistically)

How do scientists ask and answer questions? How does this differ from the ways other methods of inquiry ask and answer questions?

First, there has to be curiosity.

“To believe with certainty, we must begin by doubting” Scientists are very skeptical

Have humility to accept that you can be wrong.

Practice critical thinking

The Scientific Method

Why shouldn’t we rely on our intuition or common sense?

What are some common ways to summarize and describe distributions of data?

Every time you simplify a finding, you sacrifice completeness.

Correlations with other variables.

Variability - bad in statistics (only good in sports).


Standard Deviation:

How do we know if one thing causes another?

Correlation is the only thing that implies causation.

Run an experiment and spilt the subjects into a control group and an experimental group. Don’t change anything with the control group and only control one variable from the experimental group to see how they differ. For a double-blind study, you also need a group that participates in a placebo treatment.

Why is the central limit theorem important? How does it relate to population means?

The central limit theorem states that the distribution of the estimates of the mean drawn from any population – even one that is not normally distributed – will be approximately normally distributed if the sample is sufficiently large.

What should we do if we see an outlier?

If we see an outlier, we must ask if it is just a fluke or if there is a reason behind it.

What are some of the major types of data collection and analysis tools available to psychologists?

Standard Deviation


What are some of the important considerations for performing ethical research?

We prioritize human health and happiness over that of animals. But what is the right balance?

The APA recommends that scientists:

What are some ways we deal with bias?

Get a representative sample TODO: Add more

The Nervous System

How did early psychologists learn what different parts of the brain do?

Case studies on people with damaged part of the brain and saw what they couldn’t do

What makes a neuron a neuron and what are some typical features of neurons?

Dendrites: Receives messages from other cells

Terminal Branches of Axon: Form junctions with other cells

Axon: Passes messages away from the cell body to other neurons, muscles, or glands

Myelin Sheath: Covers the axon of some neurons and helps speed neural impulses

Neural Impulse: Action potential – electrical

Cell Body (soma): The cell’s life support center

How do neurons communicate? What are the three main classes of neuron?

The three classes of neurons:

  1. Sensory
    • Activated by sensory input
  2. Motor
    • Sends signals to muscles
  3. Interneurons
    • Talks to other neurons. Most of our neurons

Neurons receive information through the dendrites. And they conduct impulses toward the cell body

  1. A signal arrives at the synapse
  2. It is passed down the dendrite to the cell body
  3. If it is strong enough, it excites the axon hillock
  4. An action potential is sent down the axon

A cell is hyperpolarized if it is more negative than usual

A cell is depolarized if it less negative than usual.

What are the differences and similarities between neurotransmitters and hormones, and what systems use which?

Both influence our thoughts and motivations.


TODO: Finish

What are the major divisions and subdivisions of the nervous system?

Central Nervous System (CNS):

Somatic Nervous System (PNS):

Automatic Nervous System (ANS):

What are the major structures of the “old brain?” The “limbic system?” The “cerebrum?”

Old Brain:

Limbic System:

Cerebellum (little brain):

New Brain:

Cerebral Cortex: Strips through the cortex that map to specific muscles down the body in a highly organized way.

Association Areas: not sensory input or motor functions.

Frontal Lobe: Planning and thinking through actions

Motor Cortex: Maps of touch. The size of area on the cortex is based on how sensitive the part is.

Auditory Cortex: Handles audio

Visual Cortex: Handles vision

What are the rules governing the organization of the cortex? In particular, how is information lateralized in the brain?

The Brain is divided in half. The right side handles the left side of the body and vice-versa.

Right Brain: The ‘animal’ brain, not so good at logic.

Left Brain: More logic focused

The information is passed between the two via the corpus callosum.

What are some key centers for language processing in the brain?

Broca’s Area: In the frontal lobe, is critical for speech generation

Wernicke’s Area: In the temporal lobe, is essential for generation of coherent speech

The Angular Gyrus: Processing of auditory input

What is “plasticity?”

The ability of the CNS to change as a result of insult or experience.

The Mind

What is consciousness?

What we think of as ourselves. Evolutionarily used for planning and complex analysis.

Our awareness of ourselves and our environment

What is meant by “dual processing” and what are some examples of it?

Either consciously aware of something or not

Much of what we think is concious is actually not, we merely rationalize it post hoc.

What are the key features of attention?

Two types of attention:

You can only focus on one thing at once

What are the key features of the circadian rhythm?

Biological clock. Tells your body when to be tired and when to be awake.

The SCN triggers the release of the hormone melatonin from the pineal gland.

How are the stages of sleep defined? What happens during each stage?

What are some explanations for why we dream?

How do psychoactive drugs work and how are they categorized?




Tolerance: is the neuroadaptation of the brain to offset a drug’s effect.

Why are some people more likely to become regular users, or abusers, of psychoactive drugs?

Nature vs. Nurture

What is the genome? How is genetic diversity distributed among the world’s peoples?

Genome: The complete instructions for making an organism, consisting of all the genetic material in that organism’s chromosomes.

<5% of all differences among humans arise from population group differences

What is heredity? How do we estimate the contribution of heredity to psychological measures such as personality traits or intelligence?

Heredity: The passing of genetic information from one generation to another.

Correlations are defined by a coefficient called Pearson’s Product Moment and abbreviated $r$ which is between -1 and 1. The square of $r$ is often taken as a measure of the proportion of the variability of one parameter. Ex. If the $r$ value of IQ and academic achievement is 0.5, then IQ makes up about 25% of your academic achievement.

What aspects of personality are the most and the least heritable?

Most heritable:

Least heritable:

How is molecular genetics changing our understanding of the relationship between nature and nurture?

With the ability to read much more sequences of DNA, we have figured out that most of our attributes are genetic. Therefore learning more towards nature.

In what ways do men and women most commonly differ? In what ways are they usually more alike? Are these ways predicted or consistent with underlying biological differences or are they more likely products of culture? How would we know?

In order to know if these are nature or nurture, we would have to look at cultures that have different views. If the behavior in men and women is still consistent, then it’s nature.


How does experience influence development?

We are coloring books from the start.

Nature setups the brain architecture and experience fills in the details.

Nurture works with nature endows.

Rats in deprived environments have smaller brains and die earlier.

What is culture and what are some key ways in which psychologists define cultures? What kind of culture is America? Is our type of culture predominant? If it isn’t, what is?

America is an individualist culture.

Most of the world (including Asia) is collectivist.

Culture: the enduring behaviors, ideas, attitudes, values, and traditions shared by a group of people and transmitted from one generation to the next.

What is included in the bio psychosocial approach to development?

Roles make the players. We fit molds well.

Children learn their culture

Culture impacts parenting.