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Психология Computational modeling. Criticisms of psychology.
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Unit 23

Цель – формирование представлений студентов о численном моделировании в психологии и критике психологии как науки, использование знания иностранного языка в профессиональной деятельности и профессиональной коммуникации.

Computational modeling is a tool often used in cognitive psychology to simulate a particular behavior using a computer. This method has several advantages. Since modern computers are extremely fast, many simulations can be run in a short time, allowing for a great deal of statistical power. Modeling also allows psychologists to visualize hypotheses about the functional organization of mental events that couldn't be directly observed in a human.

Several different types of modeling are used to study behavior. Connectionism uses neural nets to simulate the brain. Another method is symbolic modeling, which represents different mental objects using variables and rules. Other types of modeling include dynamic systems and stochastic modeling.

Although modern mainstream psychology largely attempts to be a scientific endeavor, the field has a history of controversy. Some criticisms of psychology have been made on ethical and philosophical grounds. Some have argued that by subjecting the human mind to experimentation and statistical study, psychologists objectify persons; because it treats human beings as things, as objects that can be examined by experiment, psychology is sometimes portrayed as dehumanizing, ignoring or downplaying what is most essential about being human.

Another common criticism of psychology concerns its fuzziness as a science. Since some areas of psychological research rely on "soft" methods such as surveys and questionnaires, some have said, psychology is not as scientific as it claims to be, although many would argue this is an outdated criticism based on misconceptions. Many believe that the mind is not amenable to quantitative scientific research, and as support for their criticism cite the vast theoretical diversity of psychology, a discipline which agrees on very little about how the mind works. Some point out that astronomy's claim to being a science is also open to argument because its theories are largely untestable, being based in part on events that cannot be directly observed (philosophically, a scientific theory must be falsifiable: testable and open to the possibility of being proven false).

One approach calling itself critical psychology takes almost an opposite approach. Rather than scientific validity being the standard against which psychology research should be judged, critical psychology uses philosophical, analytical, political, economic and social theories such as Marxism, constructionism, discourse analysis and qualitative approaches to criticize mainstream psychology, claiming among other things that it serves as a bulwark of an unjust or unsatisfying status quo when it should, instead, use its methods and knowledge base to critique and change societal norms.


I. Answer the following questions on the text:

1. Where is computational modeling used? What for?

2. What advantages does this method have?

3. What types of modeling are used to study behaviour?

4. Why do some psychologists criticize experimentation and statistical study in psychology?

5. Another common criticism of psychology concerns its fuzziness as a science, doesn’t it? Explain.

6. What theories and approaches does critical psychology use to criticize mainstream psychology?