These determinants interact in lawful ways from the moment of conception to the end of the sequence of brain death to produce every thought we think, every emotion we feel, and every behavior we do. (For those readers with previous psychology course experience, we will primarily use a biobehavioral information-processing model to teach this subject matter, which may well require the “unlearning” of some of your previous psychology terms and concepts. You may also encounter some new labels for old terms that you’ll need to adopt, at least throughout this course.)
Just think of that! The answer to any “why” question about anyone’s thoughts, feelings, and/or behaviors, anywhere, anytime, is either “S/he does that instinctively”, or “S/he learned to do it that way”, or “S/he can only do it that way because of trauma”, or some combination of the three. And if you give the “learning” answer to any such “why” question, you’ll be correct the vast majority of the time.
Let’s briefly look at another example of how scientific laws and principles provide powerful tools for psychology, and in this instance, humanism. Historically, one of the most useful theory-building tools of science is the Law of Parsimony (also known as Occam’s Razor — which roughly means “Occam’s Rule” — and was named after the English Earl of Occam). The Law of Parsimony states that when two or more explanations (or theories) account equally well for the same results, the simpler one (the one requiring the fewest causal agents) is best. One major implication of this law for psychology is that for every psychological function or dysfunction for which science can find a natural cause, all paranormal, mystical, or supernatural causal agents can be dismissed as “unparsimonious,” regardless of how many (or which) people believe in them. This would apply, for example, to every psychological disorder previously attributed to “demons” or “gods” or “avenging angels”.
Again, pause for a minute and reflect on the implications of this principle. The Law of Parsimony does not mean that we can disprove the role of supernatural agents in psychological functions or dysfunctions, but it does mean that we can render such explanations or theories as completely superfluous and, therefore, practically useless. In other words, when psychological phenomena are scientifically demonstrated to be caused by natural agents, there’s no “effect” left for supernatural agents or powers to “cause;” e.g., no talents and skills that are “blessings bestowed on the faithful by a supernatural being,” and no problems and dysfunctions attributable to “punishments for sins.”
If these examples of SciPsy are understandable and useful to you, try the Basic and Comprehensive Modules. There are a lot more where these came from!