- Perform non-invasive, observational research. In order to prepare, you need to identify a safe location where you can observe the behavior of at least one other person without interfering. You can observe anyone, but you must find at least one other person to observe. To the best of your ability, do not act in a way that would change the behavior you are observing.
- Over the course of five minutes, take notes as objectively as possible about the behaviors you observe. Try not to interpret what they are doing, but rather simply what they do and the context in which they are doing it.
Some things to think about are: What behaviors are you observing? What caused the behavior to happen? Where is the behavior occurring? Is this something you’ve seen happen before?
- Do background research on the behaviors you took notes on.
You can start this background research by answering a few questions: What kinds of behaviors did you observe? What theories did you learn about that apply to what you observed? What experiments have been performed on this topic or related topics? Who are the notable figures in psychology that studied what you observed?
If you watched someone learning something, you might look to the chapter on learning for more information in your text. If you observed multiple people interacting, then you might want to read the section on social psychology more. You may want to look back over the chapter on cognition to remind yourself about what psychologists believe about how our thought processes work.
- Begin writing your essay by describing your observations.
Imagine if you were wanting to study the behavior of animals in the wild. You would need to start by describing what they are literally doing before you can begin to understand why they do it. In plain, objective terms, you should describe what it is you observed. What behaviors did you observe? What environments did they occur in? What causes and effects of the behavior did you observe?
- The next section of your essay will explain, based on the principles of psychology, your topic.
Based on your reading and background research, what theorists, theories, and experiments are related to the behaviors you observed. What perspective of psychology makes the most sense to you when it comes to explaining your topic? What perspective is the most useful way to understand your topic? What difficulties did you have in coming up with an explanation? Is there anything else you would need to know to better be able to explain what this behavior is?
Remember, many people have explained human behavior from many different perspectives. Try to determine which does the best job explaining why things work they way they work. For example, Freud had a lot of ideas about mental illness. Do you think his theory makes more sense than the biological perspective?
- The third section of your essay will try to predict what you think will happen in the future.
Depending on what you are writing about, do you think it will happen again? Why will it happen again? Under what circumstances will it happen again? You should be able to make predictions about when it will or will not happen again, based on what you know about why it happens. Use what you wrote about in the "explain" portion of your essay to help you "predict" the future.
- Lastly, you will discuss how to "control" the topic you have chosen to write about.
At the core of psychology is trying to understand how we can affect or change how people behave or think in order to better someone’s life. Imagine that you were trying to design an experiment. What would you, as the experimenter, need to do to change how someone behaves in your experiment? Could you change the behavior you are writing about with the use of drugs? What about if you stress someone out before they do it, will that change this behavior? Will you behave the same way in a group of people or if you are alone?
This section of your essay should make connections with the explanations for the behavior you provided earlier. For example, if you watched a group of people decide what to eat for dinner you might look to the chapter on Social Psychology to explain this behavior. Your section on how to "control" this behavior should consider how changing social influences would affect the behavior. Don’t discuss the effects of drugs on the behavior if you only described social psychological influences in the "explain" section of the essay.
- Review your essay for proper spelling and grammar. Double check the essay rubric and guidelines to ensure that you have met all of the expectations of the assignment.
Your essay must be at least 600 words in length (not including any header information), should be double-spaced, and use a readable font, such as Arial, Times New Roman, or Tahoma.
- Submit your essay through the Assignment Dropbox in D2L. You are not required to submit your notes, but may if you would like.