Final Exam for my History of Psychology class (take home, open book, open notes)

Here is my final exam for the class I teach of all seniors in psychology. It is a capstone course, intended to provide a capstone experience for the majors in psychology, a required element for all students at Randolph-Macon. I thought some of my readers might find it interesting, and honestly, I am a little bit proud of the kind of thinking that it asks students to do. This is the last assignment that they will do as senior psychology majors, and I like how it asks them to apply the things they have learned both in this class, as well as in other classes in the psychology major, to the world outside of college, both in popular media (several of the questions) as well as interpersonal situations they are bound to confront.

In case you are curious, here is the syllabus: Psyc 433 Syllabus S12

Here is the final:

Essay Questions – Pick 5 and answer in approximately two pages each (double spaced)

  1. Operationism is a critical concept in the history of psychology as well as its present status as a science.   Explain how operationism applied to both Titchener’s psychology, as well as how it applied to behaviorism.  How did their approach to operationism help explain behaviorism’s appeal, and its replacement of structuralism as the dominant school of psychology.  Use (and refer to) Stanovich’s chapter 3 to expand your definition of operationism.
  2. Watch an episode of one of the following TV shows (or really, any TV show, or movie, that you like)  Lie To Me,  Psych, The Marriage Ref, Monk, My So-Called Life, SuperNanny, The Dog Whisperer.  Then pick one of the historical psychologists that we have studied and apply their theories to the show, and to the episode that you have watched.  Your answer should include at least 3 specific elements of theory linked to at least 3 specific elements or scenes in the show.
  3. Here is a fun little article about myths in how popular media portrays science and scientists. Take 3-4 of the myths, relate to a concept discussed in Stanovich. For at least one of the myths, find an example in how popular media (movies or TV) portrays the science of psychology using this myth.
  1. In Chapter 7, Stanovich addresses the concern that psychology experiments are not “real life” because they take place in artificial situations or laboratories.  Apply this chapter to Thorndike’s puzzle boxes.  Would Thorndike say that his results applied to cats, or helped us form general laws of learning and behavior?
  1. Read the following book review about the new “epidemic” of loneliness.  Discuss this article, and the scare that it describes, in light of the concepts in Stanovich’s book. You should use at least 4 of the following terms (but please feel free to use them all, and others): operationism, essentialism, falsifiability, multiple causation, magic bullet, converging evidence, correlation, causation.
  1. Goldberger’s test of how pellagra was contracted was a compelling anecdote in the
    Joseph Goldberger

    Jonah Goldberger (from CDC Public Health Image Library)

    Stanovich book.  Why is this not an instance of a “person-who” and a testimonial evidence?  How does probabilistic reasoning apply or not apply in this case?

  2. Throughout this course, we have discussed how the history of psychology has shaped the college student’s experience. More recently, with the Stanovich book, you have reflected on the shape of your own courses, and the psychology curriculum here at R-MC. Here is an article I found interesting about whether colleges can manufacture motivation. First, consider one of the historical thinkers we have studied this semester (anyone in Schultz&Schultz, or your figure) and what they might have thought of this approach.  Second, I want you to think about Dr. Chambliss’s study. Is it a case study? Is it psychology research? How would Stanovich evaluate it?  Finally, consider whether R-MC (and the psychology department in particular) might need to enact an intervention to address this problem. What would you suggest?
  3. “Oh, graduating with a psychology degree?   So, are you going to analyze me?”  Frame a coherent and brief answer to your joking great-uncle, outlining why psychology is a science, and why it is applicable to more than just analyzing people’s worries, picking an example of an specific instance of psychological science that is related to what you hope to be doing after graduation.

About Cedar Riener

College psychology professor, husband, father.
This entry was posted in education, history, psychology, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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