Psychology 272:  Essays for The First Midterm Exam.  Here are the essays for the first exam.  You will be given a choice of 2 essay questions from the following.  You will be asked to answer only 1 of them on the exam (30% of your grade on the exam).  I will be more than glad to go over drafts of any/all of the essays beforehand.

1.  Describe the doctrines of empiricism and rationalism.  What does each imply about the origin of knowledge?  Next, choose one modern (since 1879) psychological paradigm that explicates (i.e., demonstrates the ideas of) empiricism.  In your answer, be sure to address HOW this paradigm explicates empiricism.  Next, choose one modern paradigm that explicates rationalism.  In your answer, be sure to address HOW this paradigm explicates rationalism. 


2.  Generally describe the five stages of “paradigms” according to Thomas Kuhn.  Specifically address how these stages may be used to understand the development of the science of psychology.  Next, briefly describe theoretical differences between “structuralism” and “gestalt psychology.”  How may structuralism, the discovery of the phi phenomenon, and the subsequent development of gestalt psychology, be understood in the context of Kuhn’s conceptualization of paradigms (hint: incorporate the concept of “anomaly.”)?


3.  Briefly describe the main premises of “evolutionary psychology.”  In your answer, address the notions of natural selection and adaptive characteristics.  Next, briefly describe one example of a behavior (human or animal) that may be understood from this perspective.  In your answer, be sure to explain how the behavior you choose may be the result of natural selection.


4.  Suppose that you wanted to conduct psychological research to determine if eating Twinkies somehow is related to academic success.  Briefly outline an experimental study you could implement to address this issue.  In your answer, be sure to specify your independent and dependent variables.  Also, explain how you would operationally define these variables.  Further, be sure to describe the implications that you potentially could draw from this study.  Next, briefly outline a correlational study you could implement to examine this same issue.  Be sure to specify the nature of the relationship being predicted.  Also, explain how you would operationally define your variables.  Finally, describe the implications that you could potentially draw from this research project.


5.  Describe the general characteristics of “neural transmission.”  In your answer, describe the general structural characteristics of neurons (i.e., what are the different parts of a neuron?).  Also address “inhibitory neurons,” “excitatory neurons,” and “neurotransmitters.”  Finally, describe what is meant by a “chemical imbalance in the brain” in terms of the specific concepts discussed in your essay.


6.  Describe the general characteristics of the autonomic nervous system.  In your description, be sure to address some specific bodily changes associated with arousal of the sympathetic nervous system.  Finally, describe how evolutionary psychologists might discuss the existence of the sympathetic nervous system.

7.  Briefly describe the main premises underlying both Freud’s Psychodynamic psychology and Watson’s Behaviorism.  In your answer, be sure to describe the primary goals of psychology from each perspective.  Next, briefly outline a criticism of the Psychodynamic perspective from a behavioristic perspective.  Finally, briefly outline a criticism of the behavioristic perspective from the Pyschodynamic perspective. 




Study Sheet: While you are responsible for all of chapters 1-3 in the textbook, the accompanying Pettijohn articles, and all the notes, you may want to concentrate on more detailed aspects of the following topics when studying for the final exam.

· Epistemology (empiricism, rationalism) and implications for the discipline of psychology


· Bower’s ideas on the “fragmentation of psychology”


· James’ early conceptualization of psychology (in particular, note his ideas about the relationship between mental life and the brain)


· Paradigms in science (Kuhn’s stages of paradigms in theory and in practice (i.e., as applied to the history of psychology))


· The defining features of different schools of thought in psychology (e.g., behaviorism, structuralism, and so forth)


· Weiten’s seven themes that underlie his (the textbook’s) presentation of psychology


· Free will as addressed by both behaviorists and humanists


· Research methods in psychology (experimental versus correlational research, independent and dependent variables, operational definitions, and specific issues regarding the use of humans as subjects (e.g., expectancy effects))


· Measures of central tendency and measures of variability


· Patterns of correlation (e.g., positive correlations and negative correlations)


· Response sets, experimenter effects, and placebo effects in psychological research


· Evolution and its implications for psychology


· methods for assessing neural activity


· General characteristics of neural transmission


· psychological disorders as resulting from neurotransmitter issues (e.g., Jacob’s article on Serotonin and depression)


· components of neurons


· components of the central and peripheral nervous systems


· the autonomic nervous system and the “fight or flight” response


· Hemispheric lateralization and localization of cortical functioning


· Important specific neurotransmitters and their basic functions