You will submit the topic that you have chosen to write on as well as a thesis statement.

You will submit the topic that you have chosen to write on as well as a thesis statement. This should tell me whether you agree or disagree with the statement given for the topic that you have chosen. The topic list is located in the Writing Assignment module.

You will be graded on:

1. The submission of a topic, and (7.5 pts)

2. A thesis statement that clearly indicates the position that you have taken on that topic. (7.5 pts)

3. Followed directions and formatting. If you reference any idea that is not your own, then that reference should be properly cited using APA style. (5 pts)

Note: These topics were taken from the following source:

 

Rathus, S.A. (1993). Thinking and Writing about Psychology. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace College Publishers.

 

Psychology as a Science – What is Psychology?

 

Exercise: Agree or disagree with the following statement and support your answer: ‘Psychology is the scientific study of behavior and mental processes.’

 

Things to think about:

This is probably the most widely used definition of psychology found in introductory textbooks today. It was not always so. Twenty years about, it was more common to find psychology defines as the scientific study of behavior alone.

What is behavior? What are mental processes? Why do psychologists insist that the study of mental processes must be included in the definition? What are some of the reasons that other psychologists believe that it is better to exclude mental processes from the definition? What is your view?

Can you arrive at a new definition of psychology that might please everyone?

 

Psychology as a Science – Science and Human Behavior

 

Exercise: Agree or disagree with the following statement and support your answer: ‘It is possible to understand human behavior from a scientific perspective.’

 

Things to think about:

Can the richness and complexity of human behavior be reduced to scientific statements? What is human behavior? What is science? Which, if any, aspects of human behavior seem subject to scientific analysis?

 

Psychology as a Science – Ethics

 

Exercise: Is it ethical to deceive human subjects as the nature of psychological research?

 

Things to think about:

Consider some studies that could not have been carried out without deceiving human subjects as to their purposes and methods. Is it ethical to deceive subjects as to the purposes and methods of the research? What is meant by the principle of informed consent? Is deception of subjects consistent or inconsistent with this principle?

In your response, try to consider the value of some of the studies in which subjects have been deceived. Is it possible to weigh or balance the value of the research findings against the harm –or potential harm-done by the use of deception?

 

Biology and Behavior – Why do psychologists study biology?

 

Exercise: Since psychology is usually defined as the study of behavior and mental processes, why are psychologists interested in biological matters such as the nervous system, the endocrine system and heredity?

 

Things to consider:

Can knowledge of the brain and other parts of the nervous system enhance our understanding of behavior and mental processes? If so, how? What are the connections between the endocrine system and emotional experience?  Do any behavior patterns and mental abilities seem to be linked to heredity? What kinds of behaviors?

 

Developmental Psychology – Cognitive Developmental Theory

 

Exercise: Agree or disagree with the following statement and support your answer: `Children are natural scientists who actively intend to learn about and manipulate their worlds.’

 

Things to consider:

The view of children as actively intending to learn about and manipulate the environment is one of the key concepts of cognitive-developmental theory. The behaviorist view, by contrast, is that people essentially react to stimuli rather than intending to interpret and act on the world. If people at time seem to be acting intentionally, it is because they are shaped to do so.

Which view is more consistent with your own? Which view do you like better? Why? Does evidence concerning the behavior of children (and adults) seem more supportive of one view than the other? What do you think?

 

Sensation and Perception – Sensory Adaptation

 

Exercise: Because of sensory adaptation, we become less sensitive to our familiar surroundings. Does this loss of sensitivity deprive of useful information (and of the ability to enjoy constant pleasures!), or does it help us pay attention to what is most important?

 

Learning – Learning versus Instinct

 

Exercise: In human beings, what kinds of behavior patterns are learned and what kind are innate (born)? Are most differences between people learned or innate?

 

Things to consider:

What is meant by “differences“ between people? Food preferences, religious or political differences, or sexual interests? Differences in language or intelligence?

 

Motivation – Hunger

 

Exercise: Agree or disagree with the following statement and support your answer: „Dieting ist he normal way of eating for American women.“

 

Things to consider:

Critical thinkers are precise in their definitions of terms and recognize that the accuracy of arguments depends on the meanings of the words that are used. What are some of the ways of defining the word ‚normal’? One has to do with statistical normality; from this perspective, if many or most people do it, it’s normal. Another has to do with notions as to what is proper or ideal. People selecting this sort of definition might have a different response.

 

Health Psychology – Psychological Factors in Physical Illness

 

Exercise: What are the connections between psychological factors such as attitudes and physical illness? How can psychological variable affect physical health?

 

Things to consider:

When Norman Cousins, former editor of the Saturday Review, was hospitalized for a rare and painful illness, he was a ‘bad’ patient. He complained about hospital routines such as the low-calorie and tasteless diet, the indiscriminate taking of x-rays, and the heavy administration of drugs including pain-killers and tranquilizers. Even with all these procedures, his doctors gave him only a slim chance of a full recovery.

As he related in his book, Anatomy of an Illness, Cousins decided to take things into his own hands. First, he moved from the hospital setting- which encourages passive compliance with the patient role – to a hotel room. Second, he traded massive doses of analgesics and other drugs for laughter and vitamins. He watched films of the Marx Brothers and his favorite TV comedy shows and focused on maintaining a positive attitude. To his physicians’ amazement, he made a substantial recovery from his illness.

What does Cousins’ experience suggest about the connections between attitudes and illness? Does research tend to support or contradict the wisdom of Cousins’ behavior?

 

Memory – Reconstructive Memory

 

Exercise: Agree or disagree with the following statement and support your answer: “People’s memories are distorted by their attitudes and stereotypes.”

 

Things to consider:

This statement addresses the issue as to whether memories are clear snapshots or colored by our schemas (ways of filtering or interpreting experience), some of which may be prejudices and stereotypes. This statement also seems to suggest that we may sometimes remember things the way we want to remember them. Put it another way: are memories pure impressions of the stimuli that we observe or are they reconstructed on the basis of these stimuli and personal biases?

 

Memory – Reconstructive Memory

 

Exercise: Agree or disagree with the following statement and support your answer: ‘People’s memories are distorted by their attitudes and stereotypes.’

 

Things to consider:

This statement addresses the issue as to whether memories are clear snapshots or colored by our schemas (ways of filtering or interpreting experience), some of which may be prejudices and stereotypes. This statement also seems to suggest that we may sometimes remember things the way we want to remember them. Put it another way: are memories pure impressions of the stimuli that we observe or are they reconstructed on the basis of these stimuli and personal biases?

 

Industrial/Organizational Psychology

 

Exercise: Agree or disagree with the following statement and support your answer: ‘Corporations and individual workers are natural adversaries. What is better for one is worse for the other.’

 

Things to consider:

Critical thinkers avoid overgeneralizations. Is this statement, as written, accurate in some cases but inaccurate in others? As you consider this statement, consider the nature of the needs of the corporations and other organizations. What types of needs to workers have? Are they always incompatible? (Hint: What is the relationship between job satisfaction and productivity?)

 

Environmental Psychology

 

Exercise: Agree or disagree with the following statement and support your answer: ‘Crowding people in together is adversive.’

 

Things to consider:

If you picture the statement as referring to being wedged into a subway car with perspiring commuters on a July day, it seems true enough. But let us avoid oversimplification and weigh all the evidence. Do our situations (our reasons for being where we are) and our attitudes have much to do with our responses to crowding?

 

Social Psychology – Attitudes and Behavior

 

Exercise: Agree or disagree with the following statement and support your answer: ‘People vote their consciences.’

 

Things to consider:

The statement sounds right and assumes that we can predict people’s behavior from knowledge of their attitudes.  On the other hand, how many people actually vote? Moreover, can we always predict people’s behavior from knowledge of their expressed attitudes? Even if we know of people’s genuine attitudes, is their behavior always consistent with their attitudes?

 

Methods of Therapy – Behavior Therapy

 

Exercise: Is behavior therapy behavioral?

 

Things to consider:

This is not a trick question. Consider some of the principles of behaviorism, as described in your introductory psychology textbook. Then consider definitions and of behavior therapy and various behavior-therapy techniques. You will find that behavior therapists use many methods such as systematic desensitization and modeling that involve mental imagery and learning and learning by observation. So is behavior therapy behavioral? Does much depend on how behavior therapy is defined? Would such methods cause behavior therapy to be disowned by behaviorists like Jon B. Watson and B.F. Skinner?

 

Environmental Psychology

 

Exercise: Agree or disagree with the following statement and support your answer: ‘Crowding people in together is adversive.’

 

Things to consider:

If you picture the statement as referring to being wedged into a subway car with perspiring commuters on a July day, it seems true enough. But let us avoid oversimplification and weigh all the evidence. Do our situations (our reasons for being where we are) and our attitudes have much to do with our responses to crowding?

 

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