Significant Life Event Paper

Significant Life Event Paper

Significant Life Event Paper

Write a detailed description of a significant life event that has shaped how you think about other people or yourself. Describe your thoughts, feelings, and behavior, and explain why this experience was so important. Be sure to choose a life event that fits well with at least one of the perspectives.


APA Format

Times New Roman 12 pt font

Double Space

1 inch margins

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    Seven Perspectives of Psychology – Terms Checklist




    The psychodynamic approach was promoted by Sigmund Freud, who believed that many of our impulses are driven by sex. Freud, who was medically trained in neurology, developed a theory of personality that made the assumption that human motivation was propelled by conflicts between instinctual, mostly unconscious, psychological forces. He called these intrapsychic elements the id, ego and superego.


    This psychodynamic theory caught on like wild fire and due to its explanatory power for human behavior, became very popular over the following century. Freud’s therapeutic method, called psychoanalysis, was developed to identify the underlying conflicts between intrapsychic structures and resolve them by bringing them to consciousness. Insight therapy was one term used to describe Freud’s treatment approach. Freud also contributed the first developmental theory of human personality. It suggests that human development progresses through psychosexual stages. Each stage is characterized by specific behavioral and psychodynamic developments and challenges.


    Although Freud thought of himself as a scientist, and he was indeed very thorough in recording his methods and outcomes, he did not practice scientific methods. Psychoanalytic theory was developed through case study analysis, a qualitative, not scientific, method.


    There are a lot of jokes about Freud and his now mostly outdated theories.  But have you ever thought that something about who you are today comes from your experiences as a child?   Say, you blame your smoking habit on an oral fixation that stems from being weaned from breastfeeding too early as a baby.  Well, that also comes from Freud’s theories, and it was an idea that revolutionized how we see ourselves.


    Psychologists in this school of thought believe that unconscious drives and experiences from early childhood are at the root of your behaviors and that conflict arises when societal restrictions are placed on these urges.

    Other psychodynamic theories arose, like those of Carl Jung and Alfred Adler, Margaret Mahler, and famous developmentalists like Jean Piaget and Erik Erikson, but all made the same basic assumption: There is a dynamic mind, conscious and unconscious, that influences the behavior of humans. Elements of the unconscious psyche interact to produce motives for behavior and thought processes.


    Describe how the following concepts are linked to your thoughts, feelings and behaviors in your life event:

    · The Unconscious – Id, Ego, Superego

    · Stages of Psychosexual development – Oral, Anal, Phallic, Latency, Genital

    Oedipus complex, Electra complex, identification, fixation

    · Dreams – manifest and latent content

    · Defense Mechanisms – repression, regression, displacement, denial, sublimation, projection. rationalization, reaction formation

    · Inferiority complex

    · Collective unconscious





    In an attempt to bring scientific method to bear on the understanding of human behavior, John B. Watson, using ideas he had gleaned from the likes of Ivan Pavlov and others, decided to declare that psychology should only concern itself with observable behavior. A science of behavior was built on only observable behavior. Assumptions about underlying psychological causes of behavior were not admitted. The unconscious was declared fictitious and its study, a waste of time. Serious psychology would focus on observable, controllable, behavior. The behavioral perspective gained great momentum in the 20th century because it was a powerful tool in training, education, and industry. Critics claimed that behaviorism was dehumanizing. John B. Watson and others conducted a thorough explication of Classical Conditioning and B. F. Skinner, responding somewhat to the critics of behaviorism’s dehumanization, explained and expertly defended the processes of Operant Conditioning.


    Behavioral psychologists believe that external environmental stimuli influence your behavior and that you can be trained to act a certain way. Behaviorists like B.F. Skinner don’t believe in free will. They believe that you learn through a system of reinforcement and punishment in your environment. The behavioral approach is really effective when you don’t care what someone thinks, as long as you get the desired behavior. The influence of these theories affects us every day and throughout our lives, impacting everything from why we follow the rules of the road when driving to how advertising companies build campaigns to get us to buy their products.


    Describe how the following behavioral concepts/terms are relevant to your life event


    Modules 18 – 20

    · Classical conditioning (always involves a reflex)

    · unconditioned stimulus

    · unconditioned response

    · neutral stimulus

    · conditioned stimulus

    · conditioned response

    · Generalization,

    · Discrimination,

    · Extinction

    · Spontaneous recovery

    · Operant conditioning

    · Thorndike’s Law of Effect

    · Reinforcers

    · positive

    · negative

    · primary

    · secondary

    · Reinforcement schedules

    · Fixed ratio

    · variable ratio

    · fixed interval

    · variable interval

    · Punishers

    · positive

    · negative

    · unintended effects of punishment

    · Generalization,

    · Discrimination,

    · Extinction

    · Spontaneous recovery


    · Latent learning

    · Intrinsic/Extrinsic motivation

    · Observational learning/modeling




    In contrast to behaviorists, cognitive psychologists believe that your behavior is determined by your expectations and emotions. Cognitive psychologist Jean Piaget would argue that you remember things based on what you already know.  You also solve problems based on your memory of past experiences.


    So, with this approach, we turn away from people as machines without free will and delve back into thoughts and feelings. How you act is based upon internal processes, and there is much more emphasis upon individuals.  From a cognitive perspective, your expectations of an upcoming party will affect how you feel and act while you’re there and will color your memory of the night after you return home.


    The cognitive perspective developed explanations for human behavior that suggest that human behavior is at times thoughtful and can be controlled by thought processes. Indeed, the cognitive perspective suggests that much of human behavior is mediated by thought processes like memory and attention, belief systems, attitudes and language. Cognitivists believe that humans bring significant conscious processes into the mix and that much of human behavior is mediated by conscious processes. Belief systems, value systems, thought processes, reason and intelligence have a significant impact on why we do the things we do and act the way we act. The cognitive perspective suggests that much of human behavior is significantly influenced by cognitive processes and is thus amenable to our thoughtful control.  Significant Life Event Paper


    Describe how the following concepts are linked to your thoughts, beliefs, feelings and behaviors in your life event:


    Modules 21 – 23

    Memory processes –

    · encoding

    · storage

    · retrieval

    · recall vs. recognition

    · context effects

    · mood congruent memory



    Stage Model of memory

    · sensory memories (iconic, echoic, haptic)

    · short-term memory

    · long-term memory

    Automatic processing vs. Effortful Processing


    Memory Effects

    · Spacing Effect

    · Next-in-Line Effect

    · Serial Position Effect

    Types of Encoding

    · Semantic

    · Visual

    · Auditory

    Memory Strategies (Mnemonics)

    · Chunking

    · Hierarchies

    Stress & Flashbulb memories

    Implicit memories (memory for events)

    Explicit memories (memory for actions)


    · encoding failure

    · memory decay

    · retrieval failure

    · retroactive interference

    · proactive interference

    · Misinformation Effect

    · Source amnesia


    Module 24 – Thinking





    confirmation bias


    representativeness heuristic

    availability heuristic

    belief perseverance

    intuition – benefits and limitations

    framing effect


    Modules 26 & 27 – Intelligence

    emotional intelligence

    Savant syndrome

    Binet & Simon – mental age

    Intelligence test

    Aptitude test

    Achievement test

    Percentage of WAIS scores that fall between 85 and 115


    validity – content validity, predictive validity

    mental retardation – characteristics and 4 levels

    how do we know that intelligence is hereditary?

    why is environment also important?

    Flynn effect




    The biological/neuroscience perspective is a broad scientific perspective that assumes that human behavior and thought processes have a biological basis. Biology includes investigations into biochemistry of behavior associated with neurotransmitters and hormones, genetics and heritability, and the psychophysics of sensation and perception. Physiological psychology, neuroscience, psychoneuroimunology and psychopharmacology are all part of the biological perspective. Because the biological perspective relies on scientific methods, its scope of investigation is limited to variables that can be controlled. Research methods are quantitative and seek to produce findings that can be replicated and that are generalizable across populations.


    Practical outcomes of biological psychology include the booming trade in psychopharmaceuticals, an understanding of mental illness that provides viable remedies for certain very serious disorders, and diagnostic brain scanning tools that are at the leading edge of neuroscience.


    Biopsychologists look at how your nervous system, hormones and genetic makeup affect your behavior. Biological psychologists explore the connection between your mental states and your brain, nerves and hormones to explore how your thoughts, moods and actions are shaped. So what does that mean? It means that for the biological approach, you are the sum of your parts.  You think the way you do because of the way your brain is built and because of your body’s needs.  All of your choices are based on your physical body.  The biological approach attempts to understand the healthy brain, but it also examines the mind and body to figure out how disorders like schizophrenia develop from genetic roots. Significant Life Event Paper


    Describe how the nervous systems, neurotransmitters, brain structures are linked to your thoughts, feelings and behaviors in your life event


    Module 3

    Neurons (parts and functions)

    dendrites –

    action potential (neural impulse) –

    terminal axon branches –

    reuptake –

    A neuron is like a _______. It either fires or it doesn’t fire. It can’t fire faster or slower or stronger or weaker.

    motor neurons –

    sensory neurons –

    interneurons (and location of them) –

    If your hand touches a hot steering wheel ________ neurons carry the message to the _____.

    Your brain then uses _______ neurons to sends the message to your hand to move it.

    If you hand touches fire, it triggers a ________, so the _________ will intercept the message from the sensory neurons and loop it directly back to the _________ neurons so you will move your hand really fast.

    Neurotransmitters and diseases they are linked with

    acetylcholine (Ach) –

    serotonin –

    dopamine –

    Organization of nervous systems

    sympathetic –

    parasympathetic –

    (lion story)

    Endocrine System – Pituitary gland


    Module 4


    Lobes of cerebral cortex and their function

    frontal –

    parietal –

    occipital –

    temporal –

    Left hemisphere vs right hemisphere (which is the verbal side, which is the non-verbal side?)

    Corpus callosum

    Split-brain patients

    Sensory cortex is most critical for our sense of __________ (e.g., hearing, vision, touch) and the _______ (which body part) takes up the most brain tissue on it.

    Plasticity – definition & example




    Our bodies evolved over eons, slowly calibrating to the African savanna on which 98 percent of our ancestors lived and died. So, too, did our brains. Evolutionary psychology postulates that the mind is shaped by pressure to survive and reproduce. We jealously guard romantic partners and cherish our closest relatives above all others, lest we fail to pass on our genes. Men try to have as many children as they can, while women try to find a partner with good resources to have the best chance of them surviving. We easily acquire language, which is critical for cooperation and hence survival. Evolutionary psychology acknowledges these forces but stresses the ultimate (and largely unconscious) gene’s eye view of behavior.


    The evolutionary perspective explains human behavior and thought process as resulting from evolutionary processes. The underlying assumption of biological evolution is survival of the species. Human behavior is understood in the light of the question: how does this behavior result from processes that support the survival of the species?


    Describe how your life event reflects thoughts, feelings and behaviors that have helped our species adapt, survive and flourish in our environment



    Behavior Genetics

    In 2003, with the completion of the thirteen year-long Human Genome Project, scientists started a new area for research. After sequencing nearly every gene in the human body, they have new tools and information to learn more about humans than ever before. Significant Life Event Paper

    These new tools have led to great demand for behavioral geneticists, who work to decipher the intricate ways that the environment and genes interact to influence human behavior and cause disease. A couple of decades ago, twin sets and large families were the only way to explore the role of genes in such complex human traits as intelligence. Today, researchers also have silicon chips and powerful sequencing machinery that allow them to conduct sophisticated searches for the multitude of genetic variants that may influence a single trait. They can even look at the human epigenome, the network of chemical tags that control gene expression.

    Many behavioral geneticists hope to learn more about the complex relationship between genes and addiction. But researchers are also trying to answer questions related to development, personality, cognition, language acquisition, music ability and much more. Behavioral geneticists also search for genetic variants linked to such complex diseases as Alzheimer’s, childhood obesity, Type 2 diabetes and schizophrenia.


    Describe the interaction of your genetics and your environment on your thoughts, beliefs, emotions and behaviors regarding your life event




    The social/cultural perspective in psychology suggests that human behavior is influenced by social context (who is around you), environmental cues, social pressures and cultural influences. Anyone who has attended a football game will recognize that human behavior is susceptible to influence of the crowd mentality. We are all shaped by the context of our environment and influenced by the perception of authority in our social order. Social psychologists suggest that these forces are very powerful and explain a great deal about the causes of human behavior and thought processes. Significant Life Event Paper


    Describe how your cultural aspects influence your thoughts, beliefs, emotions and behaviors about your life event.

    Cultural Aspects

    · religion

    · language

    · gender

    · sexual orientation

    · socioeconomic status

    · family environment

    · neighborhood

    · state

    · region of the country

    · country

    · race/ethnicity