Psych 100: Intro to Psychology

Sue Frantz


How to take notes on the textbook


Your textbook (Myers, 9th ed.) is written using an outline, which you can see in the headings.  Here is the barebones outline for Chapter 1.


I. The need for psychological science [Maroon heading]

A.   Did we know it all along? Hindsight bias. [Green heading]

B.     Overconfidence

C.     The scientific attitude

D.  Critical thinking

II. How do psychologists ask and answer questions

A.     The scientific method

B.  Description

         1. The case study [Purple heading]

         2. The survey

a.      Wording effects  [Red heading]

b.      Random sampling

         3. Naturalistic observation

              C. Correlation

         1. Correlation and causation

         2. Illusory correlations

         3. Perceiving order in random events

               D. Experimentation

         1. Random assignment

         2. Independent and dependent variables

B.     Can subliminal tapes improve your life?

III. Statistical reasoning in everyday life

A.     Describing data

       1. Measures of central tendency

       2. Measures of variation

B.     Making inferences

                  1. When is an observed difference reliable?
                  2. When is a difference significant?

VI. Frequently Asked Questions About Psychology



Now that you have the skeleton, it’s time to fill in the content.  Each paragraph has a point that it makes.  Find the point in each paragraph and drop it into your outline.  You may find that you need to take more notes in areas that you are less familiar with, and fewer notes in areas where you have prior knowledge. 


Include examples from your own life whenever you can. 


Be sure that your notes allow you to answer the numbered questions embedded in the chapter.


Here's a more detailed example through the bottom of page 16.  Notice that what is in the outline is much more than just the bold-faced and italicized terms. 


I. The need for psychological science

A.     Did we know it all along? The hindsight bias

Hindsight bias (aka I-knew-it-along phenomenon) = “the tendency to believe after learning an outcome, that one would have foreseen it.”


Examples of the hindsight bias:


When told “out of sight out of mind,” most believe it’s true.  When told “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” most believe it’s true.  When asked why, people say it is common sense.  A statement and its opposite cannot both be true.  Common sense was wrong. 


“Common sense describes what has happened more easily than it predicts what will happen.”


Intuition is sometimes right, sometimes wrong. 




If you have taken good notes on the chapter, you will not need to reread the chapter.  


To evaluate your notes on chapter 1, turn to page 44.  First, try to answer the questions without looking at your notes.  For the ones you are unsure of, try to answer them using the notes you have taken.  If you can answer them all, your notes are probably good.  If you cannot, then return to the sections covered by the unanswered questions, and take more notes. 


I highly recommend you do the same using the study guide that came with your textbook. 


Now, read through your notes twice a day.  Actively read through.  By actively, I mean, remind yourself what example goes with that information.  Think as you read.  If you reach a spot in your notes where you are unsure what you meant, go back to the chapter and remind yourself, and then amend your notes. 


If you put in this time up front, it will mean less time spent studying later, AND it will mean greater comprehension and retention.