Friday, December 2, 2016


Big Question:  Which theory of personality best describes who we are?  
Personality Objectives:
After you have read the chapters and taken notes, you should be able to do the following:
  • Describe Freud’s view of personality structure
  • Outline and describe Freud’s psychosexual stages of personality development
  • Explain how defense mechanisms operate
  • Discuss the major ideas of the neo-Freudians and today’s psychodynamic issues
  • Explain how projective tests are used to assess personality and describe research findings regarding their validity and reliability
  • Discuss trait theories of personality
  • Identify the Big Five personality factors
  • Discuss the basic ideas of Maslow and Rogers
  • Evaluate the humanistic perspective
  • Describe the social-cognitive perspective and define reciprocal determinism

Personality Overview

Personality refers to each individual’s characteristic pattern of thinking, feeling, and acting.  The Personality chapter examines four perspectives on personality.  Psychoanalytic theory emphasizes the unconscious and irrational aspects of personality.  The social-cognitive perspective emphasizes the effects of our interactions with the environment.  Humanistic theory draws attention to the concept of self and to human potential for healthy growth.  Trait theory led to advances in techniques for evaluating and describing personality.  The text first describes and then evaluates the contributions and shortcomings of each perspective.  In addition, within each section is a brief description of some of the techniques used by the perspective in analyzing personality.

Monday, September 12, 2016

How do we learn?

Cognition and Language

AP Psychology
Cognition and Language

Big Questions:  How does the process of memory create a unique experience for each individual?  How do language and cognitive processes work to influence our ability to think and problem solve?
Cognition and Language Unit Objectives:
Explain memory in terms of information processing and distinguish between short-term and long-term memory.
Describe the nature of iconic and echoic memory.
Explain the process of encoding and distinguish between automatic and effortful processing.
Explain the importance of meaning, imagery, and organization in the encoding process.
Describe the capacity and duration of long-term memory and discuss the synaptic changes that may underlie memory formation and storage.
Distinguish between implicit and explicit memory and describe the role of the hippocampus in explicit memory.
Contrast recall, recognition, and relearning measures of memory.
Describe the importance of retrieval cues and explain what is meant by state-dependent memory.
Explain what is meant by retrieval failure and discuss the effects of interference and repression on retrieval.
Describe the nature of concepts and the role of prototypes in concept formation.
Discuss how we use means of trial and error, algorithms, heuristics, and insight to solve problems.
Describe how the confirmation bias and fixation can interfere with effective problem solving.
Explain how the representativeness and availability heuristics influence our judgments.
Describe the effects that overconfidence and framing can have on our judgments and decisions.
Discuss how our beliefs distort logical reasoning and describe the belief perseverance phenomenon.
Describe artificial intelligence and contrast the human mind and the computer as information processors.
Describe the structure of language.
Trace the course of language acquisition and discuss alternative theories of language development.
Describe the research on animal communication and discuss the controversy over whether animals have language.
Discuss the relationship between thought and language. (Whorf’s linguistic relativity)

Cognition and Language Overview
The cognition and language unit explores human memory as a system that processes information in three steps.  Encoding refers to the process of putting information into the memory system.  Storage is the purely passive mechanism by which information is maintained in memory.  Retrieval is the process by which information is accessed from memory through recall or recognition.
This unit also discusses the important role of meaning, imagery, and organization in encoding new memories, how memory is represented physically in the brain, and how forgetting may result from failure to encode or store information or to find appropriate retrieval cues.  The chapter discusses the issue of memory construction.  How “true” are our memories of events?  A particularly controversial issue in this area involves children’s memories of sexual abuse.
Most of the cognition and language unit deals with thinking, with emphasis on how people logically-or at times illogically—use tools such as algorithms and heuristics when making decisions and solving problems. Also discussed are several common obstacles to problem solving, including fixations that prevent us from taking a fresh perspective on a problem and our bias to search for information that confirms rather than challenges existing hypotheses.
The unit also explores how computer systems have been constructed to simulate the neural networks of the human brain. By mimicking the ways in which human neural networks interconnect, computers enable scientists to study how human systems process sensations and memories and how the thought process works.
The rest of the unit is concerned with language, including its structure, development in children, use by animals, and relationship to thinking. Two theories of language acquisition are evaluated: Skinner’s theory that language acquisition is based entirely on learning, and Chomsky’s theory that humans have a biological predisposition to acquire language.

Does Zimbardo go too far?

How does this study violate the APA's ethical code?

Unit 2

Big Question:  How do psychologists use the scientific method to validate a hypothesis?

Research Methods Objectives:
  • Describe the scientific method and the scientific attitude that facilitate the development of psychological theories.
  • Describe four methods psychologists use to observe and describe behavior systematically.
  • Discuss why correlations enable prediction but do not provide an explanation.
  • Describe the nature and advantages of experimentation and identify the elements of an experiment.
  • Discuss the ethics of experimentation and how psychologists’ values influence their work.
  • Explain the problems of bias on rational thought.

Research Methods Overview

The Methods of Study chapter explains the limits of intuition and common sense in reasoning about behavior and mental processes.  To counteract our human tendency toward faulty reasoning, psychologists adopt a scientific attitude that is based on healthy skepticism, open-minded humility, and critical thinking.  This chapter also explains how psychologists employ the research designs of description, correlation, and experimentation in order to objectively describe, predict, and explain behavior.  The chapter concludes with a discussion of several questions people often ask of psychology, including why animal research is relevant, whether laboratory experiments are ethical, whether behavior varies with gender, and whether psychology’s principles don’t have the potential for misuse.  This chapter introduces a number of concepts that will play an important role in later chapters.  Make sure you understand the method of experimentation, especially the importance of control conditions and the difference between independent and dependent variables.