PS201 - Introductory Psych


Essay Study Questions (Exam 1)
Essay Study Questions (Exam 2)
Essay Study Questions (Exam 3)
Paper Assignment

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Study Questions for Exam 1

To prepare for the first exam I thought that you might find it useful to have some questions to orient you toward the material that we've covered so far this term. I don't intend for you to consider these questions to be definitive. In other words, I will feel free to ask any questions I want to on the exam - not necessarily these specific questions. On the other hand, I do pose these questions because I think they address important issues. Thus, if you have studied carefully and can answer these questions completely, I do feel that you will be relatively well prepared. I would also suggest testing yourself by attempting to answer the review questions and define the new terms at the end of each chapter. Of course, it would also be a good idea to go over the old exams that are on reserve to familiarize yourself with prototypical formats for the exam. The past is often a good predictor of the future.

1. The Nature show on learning served to review a number of important studies in the history of psychology, as well as teaching us about learning. How would you characterize the development of conceptions of learning as exhibited in the video? In other words, what theme(s) did you see in going from Pavlov and his dogs, Clever Hans, Thorndike and his chicks and cats, Watson and his sooty terns and rats, Skinner and his pigeons and rats, Thorpe and chaffinch song development, and the Harlows and their infant monkeys with surrogate "mothers?"

2. We decided that both classical and operant conditioning could be applied to human beings. What evidence convinced us that human beings could be conditioned? How could you apply these conditioning principles in your own life to modify your own behaviors? For instance, suppose that you wanted to come up with a regimen to help you quit smoking or to spend more time studying. How would you go about modifying your behaviors knowing what you now know.

3. In the videotape with Clive, we saw a particular type of memory problem. How would you characterize Clive's conscious experience? I mentioned that Korsakoff's syndrome created another type of memory loss that was somewhat similar to that experienced by Clive. How do these two memory problems compare and what do they tell us about the biological basis of memory? Would you want to continue to live if you were in Clive's position?

4. In what ways are classical and operant conditioning similar? Different? Under which circumstances (i.e., to condition which type of behaviors) do you think that classical conditioning might be more effective than operant conditioning? When would operant conditioning be more effective?

5. B.F. Skinner wrote an utopian novel (Walden Two) about how people might use operant conditioning principles to control the behavior of members of society. First of all, do you think that you could use a system of reinforcers and punishments to control a wide range of human behavior? How would you characterize instinctive drift in this context? Suppose that you could do so, would you find it morally acceptable to do so? Why or why not? Do you think that such a system of reinforcers is already in place?

6. What evidence distinguishes among the three types of human memory in the information processing approach (e.g., review Sperling's experiment as evidence for iconic memory, Brown/Peterson for STM, etc.)? Do you have any conscious experience of iconic memory? Short term memory? Long term memory? What does Clive's memory problems and those of Korsakoff's syndrome patients tell us about the types of memory?

7. What is the relationship between encoding and retrieval? What sorts of evidence would you bring to bear to argue for a connection between the two? Do you see how you could use particular encoding strategies to produce deep processing? What would they be?

8. Do you think that animals such as rats, mice, pigeons, etc., have the sorts of memories (sensory, STM, LTM) proposed for humans? Why do you think so? (In other words, what evidence or logic would you use to argue your case?)

9. How would you characterize intelligence? Do you believe that people with higher intelligence are able to think better than people with lower intelligence? Do you believe that intelligent people are more creative?

10. What do you think the ability to solve problems tells us about intelligence? What do heuristics such as availability and representativeness tell us about using our intelligence to solve problems?

11. How would you define consciousness? What would it mean to have an altered state of consciousness? How does a person's consciousness differ when that person is sleeping?

Study Questions for Exam 2


1. What are the prerequisites for vision and what is the evidence that establishes their importance?

2. Define top-down and bottom-up processing. Use examples to distinguish between a top-down (conceptually driven) and a bottom-up (data driven) approach to perception...particularly object/form perception.

3. What role does context play in perception? What evidence suggests that context is important?

4. Are ambiguous (multistable) figures (such as the old woman/young woman) consistent with a bottom-up approach to form perception? Why or why not?

5. You saw many examples of visual illusions. Choose two illusions and describe them clearly and then tell me why they are important for theories of perception.

6. What does the Ames rotating trapezoidal window tell us about distance/depth perception.

7. What are some monocular and binocular cues to depth? How do they work to give us sense of depth? Which cues would you argue are more important? Why?

8. The roles of retinal cells differ so much that people refer to the retina as a duplex processing structure. What do they mean by duplex theory? Illustrate several ways in which retinal cells differ in their ability.

9. Earlier in the term we discussed memory. Which is more important to a human being, perception or memory? Why? What role does memory play in perception?

10. What are some problems that face researchers interested in studying development in infants and what experimental paradigms have they developed to circumvent those problems.

11. What is the rouge test (as illustrated in the movie) and how is it important?

12. What impact does fetal alcohol syndrome have on an infant? What impact does a high level of radiation have on an infant? What do these problems tell us about development?

13. What evidence would you offer to argue that gender roles are due to nature? Nurture? What evidence do you find more compelling and why? The story of Baby X obviously believes that one factor is more important. What factor would that story lead you to believe dominates the determination of gender roles? Would you agree?

14. Piaget has proposed a theory of cognitive development. Describe his theory and provide me with specific information that leads you to accept or reject his theory.

15. Aggression and eating are two types of behaviors that might lead us to posit nature or nurture as the primary determinant. Use specific evidence to argue for the importance of nature or nurture for motivation of the particular type of behavior.

16. We experience a range of emotions. Describe several theories of emotion and tell me which theory you find most compelling.

17. The Dutton and Aron suspension bridge study is important for what it tells us about the role of arousal in motivation. Briefly describe the study and then tell me which theory of emotion would you argue best fits the data of the Dutton and Aron study? Why?

Study Questions for Exam 3


1. Describe Freud's theory of development. What elements of nature/nurture are present in his theory?

2. How would you define personality and how do psychologists attempt to measure personality? Contrast a projective test with self-report tests.

3. Describe three Freudian defense mechanisms and indicate how they serve to protect the self.

4. What is the social cognitive approach to personality and how does it differ from the Freudian approach?

5. What might define schizophrenia? Your book describes several positive and negative symptoms. Contrast positive and negative symptoms and then indicate a few positive and negative symptoms that might characterize schizophrenia.

6. Contrast nature and nurture regarding schizophrenia. What evidence might lead you to believe that one root or the other might be important in causing schizophrenia.

7. Describe how the DSM-IV is used to classify people with mental illnesses.

8. Determining the mental illness that a person might have and then treating that illness with psychotherapy is similar to solving problems such as those discussed earlier in the term. Try to address issues in mental illnesses with your knowledge about problem solving. You might want to discuss Rosenhan's study "On being sane in insane places," as well as humanistic psychotherapies.

9. How does clinical depression differ from the more typical blues/blahs that most people experience? In other words, how would you define clinical depression? Given that many more women than men are likely to experience at least one depressive episode, do you think that nature or nurture is more likely to be involved?

10. How would you contrast the psychoanalytic and the behavioral approach to psychotherapy? Which approach would you prefer to receive if you had a mental problem?

11. Using as many dimensions as you can, contrast a schizophrenic with a person who has multiple personality disorder.

12. Contrast unipolar and bipolar depression in terms of both symptoms, probable origins, and treatments of choice.

13. Using all the evidence you possibly can, tell me if you think that psychotherapy is effective.

14. What evidence would you use to illustrate the relationship between attitudes and behavior? Which seems to come first?

15. Contrast conformity, compliance and obedience and provide examples of how psychologists have studied each of them.

16. Are human beings basically good? What is the evidence that people will behave in an altruistic fashion? What factors will lead people to behave in a less-than-altruistic fashion?


PS201 Project - Spring '97



Recently we have been discussing the relative contributions of nature and nurture in the development of human behavior. Among the less "natural" explanations, however, there is a wide range of explanation in psychology. For instance, behavioral approaches (learning, Skinnerian approaches, social learning) differ from cognitive approaches, which differ from Freudian approaches, etc.

This paper is intended to get you to think of yourself and your behavior as a psychologist might. It is also intended to get you to read sources in psychology other than your textbook. It might even be a bit of fun.

Here's what I would like you to do:

1. Pick some aspect of your self on which you would like to focus. For example, you might consider: sex role (gender) orientation; personality; propensity for altruistic behavior; propensity for following others; propensity for getting drunk; propensity for feeling happy, sad, etc.; or seriousness with which you approach academics. Anything will do, as long as it is of sufficient interest to psychologists that someone will have written about it.

2. Read two (2) psychology journal articles. By a psychology journal I do not mean Psychology Today, but reputable journals in the field, such as those indexed in the Psychological Abstracts. The Psychological Abstracts are indices that help you locate journal articles by author or subject within the general area of psychology. You will also find these articles referenced in the PsycLit database.

3. Write a short paper (roughly 10 pages, typewritten, double-spaced) about your topic. It is important that the focus of your paper be very specific (i.e., about yourself, not some general person), and that you bring to bear as much specific psychological information as you can, but especially the 2 relevant articles. It is unlikely that I will be familiar with the articles you are using, so be sure to provide a brief summary of the relevant portions of the articles. Try to analyze the factors in your life that gave rise to the aspect of your self on which you are writing. What evidence exists that psychologists would agree with your assessment of the origins of the behavioral propensity? In other words, is your interpretation consistent with the articles you read? Can you characterize your explanations in terms of particular psychological orientations (cognitive, Freudian, Skinnerian, etc.)?

I'm expecting that your papers are going to be well-written (i.e., not first drafts - but final drafts based on revisions suggested to you by peer reviewers [friends], people in the Writing Center, etc.), and that they are going to contain appropriate citations for ideas that do not originate with you (i.e., plagiarism is unacceptable). The citation style is not crucial.

You should begin thinking about your topic right away. Try to find the resources in the library as soon as possible. To give you a sense of whether or not you're moving in the right direction, I would like you to have a brief statement of your topic and citations for the two references by 3/21. Thus, you might find it useful to stop by and talk to me about the assignment in the near future. The papers are due on 4/21.


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