PSYCH316 Research Paper Assignment

PSYCH316 Research Paper Assignment
PSYCH316 Research Paper Assignment
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Paper Assignment, Psychology 316
PSYCH 316 Research Paper Assignment
There is a 5-7 page paper required in this course. The paper is due on Friday, March 3 by 12:30pm. Grading penalties will be assigned to late papers (see Syllabus under “Paper”). Details on the assignment are as follows.
Length
The paper must be of 5-7 pages in length. This means 5-7 pages of text, not counting the title page or reference list page, and with pages having 1-inch margins and typed double-spaced text. Papers that are less than 5 pages long fail to meet the requirement, and therefore will receive only minimal credit.
Please retain an electronic or hard copy of your paper.
Format and Writing Style
The papers should be written in APA-style (the style of the American Psychological Association). APA style refers to two things: The format of the paper, and the style of writing.
Format. The paper should be typed, double-spaced, with margins. The pages should be numbered, with the number in the upper right-hand corner of the page. The first page of the paper should be a title page. The title page should contain the title of the paper, your name, and affiliation. Following the title page should be the 5-7 pages that constitute the main text of the paper. Following the last page of text you should have a “References” page that lists any source materials that you cited in the text.
PSYCH316 Research Paper Assignment
Regarding references, the appropriate style of references is illustrated throughout your course textbook. In the body of your paper, you should include the name of the author and the year of publication of papers or books from which you gather information. Thus, if you read a book by Freud written in 1923 that describes his structural model of personality, your text might read: Freud believed there are three aspects to human personality, the id, ego, and superego (Freud, 1923). If you never read a book by Freud, but you learned about Freud from our textbook, written by Pervin & John, your paper would read: Freud believed there are three aspects to human personality, the id, ego, and superego (Pervin & John, 2001). Occasionally, you may want to quote directly from another source. If even only a few words of text come directly from another source, then that text must be in quotation marks (otherwise it’s plagiarism!) and you should list the page number on which the material can be found.
PSYCH316 Research Paper Assignment
For example, if you have read the 1923 book by Freud, you might write: Freud believed that the ego “is not sharply separated from the id” (Freud, 1923, p. 14). Similarly, if you are quoting from our textbook, you must put the material from the textbook in quotes, and reference the textbook the page number on which the information appeared originally. Note that, in APA-style, you rarely should quote material directly. The notion here is that the basic ideas about psychology are important, but the particular way in which an author phrased those ideas is not. As a rule-of-thumb, less than 10% of your paper should consist of direct quotes from other sources. Having no direct quotes at all is perfectly acceptable. You will earn only partial credit if you turn in a paper that consists substantially (i.e., more than 10%) of direct quotes.
On Plagiarism. If you include in your own paper material that is copied from another source, and you fail to put that material in quotation marks and properly cite the original source, then (as noted above) you have plagiarized material. If you include material that appears in another student’s paper, that, too, is plagiarism. Plagiarism is a serious academic offense. It is a violation of University guidelines regarding academic integrity. (These guidelines, for your information, are stated in the Undergraduate Course Catalogue.)
PSYCH316 Research Paper Assignment
Any amount of plagiarized material will cause you to receive no credit for your paper and result in your paper being submitted to the Office of Student Judicial Affairs. It is your responsibility to avoid writing a paper in which you include, without quotation marks and references as described above, material that originally appeared in another source.
PSYCH 316 Research Paper Assignment Writing Style. Your paper should be written in a scientific writing style. In brief, this means that your goal is to present ideas in as clear and objective a manner as possible. Your writing thus should not be “impressionistic.” In other words, you should not simply be reflecting on what you thought (“I felt that Freud’s ideas were dumb, but I really liked Skinner!”). Instead, you should present objective descriptions of, and comments on, the material (“Freud’s extreme emphasis on sexuality presents many theoretical difficulties. For example, Freud’s theory fails to explain…”) It is good to express your own opinion about the material; however, you should do so while seeming as if you are an objective, “scientific” observer.
Note that the sheer quality of your English-language writing inevitably will be very important to the grade you receive on your paper. Although this is not “an English class” (i.e., a class on English-language writing), it is a class conducted in English, and the ability to communicate effectively in English writing is thus important to the paper assignment. No matter how good your ideas are, the grader reading your paper will not be able to understand them fully if your paper is not well written. Feel free to consult with us on writing style issues as you draft your paper. PSYCH 316 Research Paper Assignment
PSYCH316 Research Paper Assignment
Paper Topics and Tasks
Your assignment is to describe the way in which two of the personality theories we discuss in class explain a particular phenomenon, and to compare the theories by drawing upon a research finding in psychology. The idea, in other words, is to use research evidence to evaluate the theories.
Given this assignment, you essentially have five tasks: 1) The Phenomenon: identify a specific phenomenon, define it, and discuss its significance. 2) Theory 1: describe how one theory explains the phenomenon. This requires doing two things: outlining the overall nature of the theory, and then explaining how this overall theory treats your specific phenomenon. 3) Theory 2: describe how a second theory explains the phenomenon; 4) Research Evidence: find a piece of research on the phenomenon, and describe the research methods and results.
PSYCH316 Research Paper Assignment
You should provide enough information that the reader can determine basic facts about your evidence: What kind of study was it? (a survey? an experiment?); Who participated? (adults? children? a clinical population?); What were the basic findings?. Theory Comparison: compare and evaluate the theories. Specifically, in point 5, you should evaluate the theories by asking how the research you reviewed bears upon them. Your task would be to answer questions such as “Are the research findings what one versus the other theory would have predicted?”, “Do the research findings contradict a particular theory?,” “Do the research findings support one theory versus the other?”
The “Phenomenon”. Regarding point 1, by “phenomenon” I mean an issue, occurrence, or question of general interest, that is, of interest outside of the academic field of Personality Psychology. Even before taking Psychology classes, there are many questions you may ask about human behavior. Ideally, the personality theories will address these questions, and research would enable your to evaluate the validity of the idea contained in the theories. A variety of example phenomena are presented below; others will be discussed in class.
Note that defining the phenomenon, a main task for the first part of your paper, is not something that should be done in a casual manner. If your phenomenon has a formal, technical definition in psychology, then you need to look up this definition (in our textbook or in another psychological reference source) and use it as your definition. In many instances, you cannot simply use a standard dictionary definition of a term because the term has a more precise meaning in psychological science. “Depression” is a good example.
PSYCH316 Research Paper Assignment
Any dictionary will define the word “depressed.” However, if you are writing about depression in a psychology class then your definition of the term should be based on a psychological source, not a regular dictionary, because the term “depression” has a precise, formal definition in psychology. (This general rule of course is not specific to psychology; in any science the formal scientific terminology generally takes on a more precise definition than one can find in a dictionary.) The glossary at the back of our textbook will be useful for defining many terms.
Grading. The paper will be graded on a 50-point scale. To provide you with unambiguous grading feedback, points will be assigned separately according to how well you accomplish each of the five paper-writing tasks described above. Each of the 5 tasks will be worth 9 points. Five points will be assigned according to overall style and quality of writing.
Acceptable and Unacceptable Topics
The two theories you compare must be two of the six main theories that we discuss in class. Acceptable theories, and associated theorists, then, are as follows: 1) Psychodynamic Theories (Freud, Jung); 2) Trait Theories (the trait approach in general; the theorists Cattell or Eysenck; the “Five Factor” model of personality; 3) Behaviorism (Pavlov, Watson, Skinner), 4) Social-Cognitive Theories (the social cognitive approach in general; the theorists Bandura or Mischel; or general cognitive approaches to phenomena such as gender differences); 5) Phenomenological Theories (Rogers); Personal Construct Theory (Kelly).
Your paper can not be about other theories and/or theorists who receive little or no coverage in our course (e.g., Sheldon, Fromm, Erikson, Adler, Murray, Maslow, and Dollard & Miller). The point of the paper assignment is for you to think and write creatively about the main theories that we will be discussing in class.
PSYCH316 Research Paper Assignment
Also note that “biological,” “environment,” “nature,” and “nurture” are not theories of personality. Thus, you cannot simply compare “biological” and “environmental” approaches to a phenomenon. The problem here is that most of the theories of personality contain both biological/nature and environmental/nurture components. Also clinical treatments are not theories of personality. You cannot simply compare, for example, Beck’s cognitive therapy for depression to drug therapies for depression, because neither Beck’s cognitive therapy nor drug therapies are theories of personality. You could, however, deal with clinical topics by explaining the implications of a particular theory of personality for clinical treatment. PSYCH 316 Research Paper Assignment
Suggested Paper Topics
Here are some example phenomena (in bold), plus some mention of particularly relevant theories, and some additional comments.
Personality Change versus Stability over Time
Does an individual’s personality change over time or do personality characteristics basically remain unchanged throughout the life course?
Both trait and psychodynamic theories argue for substantial stability. Social-cognitive and phenomenological theories are more optimistic about the possibilities for change.
Assessing Personality and Individual Differences:
What is the best method for learning about someone’s personality? Can we simply ask them to describe themselves? Or are more subtle techniques required?
PSYCH316 Research Paper Assignment
Almost any two theories can be compared here. The contrast between psychodynamic approaches and either trait, social-cognitive, or phenomenological theories might be particularly appropriate.
Maximizing Performance
Some people (successful students, athletes, business people, etc.) seem to perform to the absolute best of their capabilities, even under stress, whereas other people never seem to live up to their capabilities (either because they seem unmotivated or because they become anxious when faced with pressure). What determines whether people perform to the best of their capabilities? Another related question is: What steps can be taken to ensure that a person performs to the best of his or her capabilities?
Social-cognitive theory probably should be one of the theories you consider here; within social-cognitive theory, the study of perceived self-efficacy directly addresses the issue of maximizing performance. Either trait or behavioral approaches might be a good contrast.
Culture and Personality:
Is personality the same across different cultures? There really are a couple of different questions here: Are personality variables “universal,” in other words, do the personality theories apply with equal validity across the world? Does culture affect personality, that is, would your personality be the same if you had grown up in a different culture?
The comparison of trait and social-cognitive approaches is a good one here. Psychodynamic theory also is relevant.
Conscious versus Unconscious Processes:
Are the thinking processes that are most important to personality and social behavior conscious ones? Or is our behavior primarily determined by unconscious thoughts?
One of your theories here undoubtedly should be psychoanalysis. Any of the other theories could provide an interesting contrast.
Clinical Behavior Change
What are the best techniques for changing behavior in therapy? Is merely talking to the client good enough? Or are more active treatment techniques necessary? In dealing with this issue, it might be best to focus on a particular clinical problem, e.g., anxiety or depression.
Any two theories other than trait theory (which says relatively little about clinical techniques) could work here.
Inheritance: Nature versus Nurture
Does our personality primarily reflect inherited tendencies? Or are most of our personality characteristics learned, with relatively little influence of genetic factors? Ideally, you would narrow down this topic to consider a specific aspect of personality and ask whether that particular feature of personality is learned or inherited.
Trait approaches should be one of your two theories. Behavioral or social-cognitive theories provide a good contrast.
Religion
Why, from a psychological perspective, do people engage in religious practices? In other words, what motivates religious practice?
Psychodynamic approaches, particularly the work of Carl Jung, provide one interesting perspective on this issue. Behavioral approaches, such as the work of Skinner, provide a very different view. The contrast between Jung and Freud also is interesting here.
Gender Identity and Sex Differences
There really are a collection of different phenomena, and associated potential paper topics, here: How and why do people come to identify themselves as male and female? Is this a biologically determined process? Or is it learned? If learned, are the categories of “male” and “female” learned in the same manner as other categories are learned (e.g., “young” versus” “old”)? Or are there a unique set of psychologically processes that determine gender identity? More generally, are sex differences culturally shaped or biologically determined? A theory comparison involving evolutionary psychology and social cognitive theory is probably most appropriate here.
Depression
Here one can identify at least three different paper topics: 1) What are the causes of depression? 2) More specifically (i.e., more specific than #1), what is the cause of the fact that women suffer from depression more commonly than do men? 3) What is the best way to treat depression? Most of the theories take up this topic. A particularly good comparison might involve psychoanalysis versus social-cognitive theory (and the “cognitive therapies” for depression that are associated with social-cognitive theory).
Sexual Preferences
What determines a person’s sexual orientation? Does it learned, as a result of either early-life experiences or later-in-life encounters? Or do biological and genetic factors determine sexual preference? Or is there some mix of biology and learning?
Trait approaches, which emphasize biological determinants of personality, are relevant here, especially in light of recent evidence suggesting that genetic factors contribute to sexual preferences. Psychodynamic, behavioral, or social-cognitive approaches could provide a contrast. Evolutionary personality psychology also provides an interesting viewpoint.
Test Anxiety
Why do some people seem to get anxious on tests and earn scores that are below their true ability? Trait and social-cognitive theories are a good comparison here. Trait theories might tend to see test anxiety as reflecting a person’s more general personality traits, such as neuroticism.
Social-cognitive theories would tend, in contrast, to explore the ways in which people’s thinking processes essentially “make them anxious’; in other words, particular types of beliefs and goals make it more likely that one will become test anxious.
Personality and Behavior in Different Situations
Are people’s personality tendencies the same in different situations? Or do people exhibit substantially different personality characteristics in the different contexts (school versus home; with friends versus family; etc.) of their lives? In the extreme, are we “different people” in different situations? A comparison of trait and social-cognitive approaches best.
Free Will/Determinism
Is our behavior is largely determined by external forces that are outside of our control, in which case “free will” is an illusion. Or do people have the capacity to influence the course of their lives and personality development?
Behaviorism, and the work of B. F. Skinner, should be one of your theories here. Either social-cognitive or phenomenological theories provide a good contrast. Note that this is a particularly interesting paper topic, but one for which it is a little harder (than the other topics) to come up with highly relevant research evidence.
These are example topics. You may use one of the above topics OR you can come up with one of your own, as long as it has this general form (phenomenon + 2 theories). In fact, we encourage you to come up with a novel topic that is not listed above. If you have any question about your topic, please discuss it with you course instructor or TA before beginning work on the paper.
PSYCH 316 Research Paper Assignment: Source Materials
You do not need a large set of extra reading materials to write this paper. The textbook plus at least one outside source that contains the required research evidence might be sufficient. In many instances, however, you may wish to turn to an additional sources (e.g., another personality psychology textbook that you could get from the library) for information about the theories. Our textbook says relatively little about some theories (e.g., Carl Jung or evolutionary psychology), so you might want to get an extra source for information on these ideas.
Outside Source. The outside source containing the article that describes your research should be an academic, scientific journal. Your outside source for information should not be an encyclopedia article, a popular magazine (e.g., Psychology Today), a newspaper article, etc. Your textbook is not a sufficient source of information either; in other words, although you are perfectly free to use, as your research evidence, a study that is described in the textbook, you need to get a copy of the original article that reports the research. The textbook includes only summaries of research that do not contain sufficient details on research methods and results.
Articles from various types of scientific journals could be used as source material. Some journals present primarily research reports in personality; these journals include the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Personality and Individual Differences, Journal of Personality, and Journal of Research in Personality. Other journals are devoted to theoretical articles, rather than articles that merely report research; a prime example is Personality and Social Psychology Review. In addition, many general-purpose psychology journals contain some personality articles. These articles tend to be particularly good; the general-purpose journals are usually highly prestigious. The main journals of this sort include . Psychological Review, Psychological Bulletin, and Psychological Science. Finally, some journals have articles that are scholarly, but that tend to be written for a general audience, that is, an audience that is not limited to scientists in personality psychology. These articles are particularly useful in that they tend to be informative while also being relatively easier to read. Two prime examples are American Psychologist and Current Directions in Psychological Science. **The above Paper requirements are adapted from Daniel Cervone’s paper course requirements for this course. PSYCH 316 Research Paper Assignment

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