In this outline you will include the key points and some initial ideas for the two primary sections of your final paper: your “autobiography” and your theoretical analysis which will include two theoretical concepts that you apply to your own personality expression and development. As with all writing assignments, this should be double spaced, with one inch margins on all sides of each page and 12-point font.

Section 1

The first section of your paper will be autobiographical. Here you will describe your personality from your own perspective, and you may focus on any (though not necessarily all) of these aspects of personality and your behavior: your main traits, your typical style and manner of interacting with people and stressful situations, the main features or “quirks” that make you unique, or the ways that others who know you well would describe you. I recommend that you try to select only a few vivid memories or aspects of your personal history that you think are most reflective of your overall personality and typical style. Here you will write a detailed outlineof these experiences, memories and thoughts.

As is described in your guidelines for your final paper, keep in mind that this section of your paper will be partly descriptive and partly interpretive. That is, you will be describing yourself as well as reflecting on why you think you are who you are. Try to paint a rich picture of yourself using a few most salient experiences and memories, remembering that you are describing yourself to someone (me) who knows nothing about you but wants to get a very clear idea of how you view yourself, your personality, and your personality development. You can include results and your subsequent reactions to any of the various online assessments you’ve taken this semester.

Here are some guiding questions to consider in your writing for this section:

How do you think you became the person you are today?

What are some particularly vivid and revealing memories that you think helped shape who you are today?

What factors or experiences in any of these following areas do you think have most influenced your personality development? These are just suggestions – you do not have to describe experiences in all of these areas.

  • Psychological (e.g., any psychological variable that you think impacts your behavior or approach to life – experiences with grief, cognitive problems, panic attacks, learning disability, etc.)
  • Social (e.g., particular social situations or events, or your own social characteristics, that impact how you express yourself or your personality)
  • Cultural (e.g., ethnic or cultural beliefs, practices, values)
  • Genetic (e.g., some attribute or characteristic you think you inherited)
  • Physical (e.g., impact of a physical health condition or impact of a salient physical trait or characteristic)
  • Situational (e.g., certain situations in which you think you are particularly strong, happy, challenged, anxious, etc.)
  • Familial (e.g., certain family dynamics or characteristics that impact you or influence the way you behave)

Section 2

Continue your outline with now describing two theories and concepts you intend to apply to your personality. Here are a few examples of overarching theories and the specific constructs that may describe you (feel free to draw upon any theories we’ve learned about in class/book/exercises, remember these are just examples):

Overarching Theory Examples of specific concept/construct

Psychoanalytic theories Defense mechanisms: denial, sublimation, reaction formation, projection, etc.; Bowlby/Ainsworth’s attachment styles

Trait perspectives Person/Situation debate (Situationism, Interactionism – interaction between personality traits and situations); Big Five Theory (any of the five essential traits or combination; life outcomes associated with personality traits)

Humanistic perspectives Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs; concepts of construals and free will

After considering which concepts you want to discuss in your paper, begin to explore what you will use as your references – what sections and chapters in your textbook, and what primary source(s) that presents research or some kind of analysis of that concept. For this outline, you can just write the complete reference (in APA-style) and a short paragraph summarizing the article or section in the book as part of your outline.

In general, your outline should consist of your ideas for how you believe different aspects of your personality and behavior (which you began to describe in your outline of your autobiographical section) illustrate and can be explained by each construct.

For this final paper you will choose two major theories or perspectives (and constructs within those perspectives) we’ve covered in class and apply them to your own personality and behavior. In this assignment you are working to understand yourself from two different theoretical viewpoints that we’ve discussed in class.

After describing some salient autobiographical memories and experiences that help to paint a picture of your general personality and patterns, you will select two different theories or perspectives (trait approach, biological approach, psychoanalytic approach, phenomenological/humanistic approach, and learning/behavioral approach), and then specifically two different concepts or constructs within those theories. You will be expected to incorporate both your previous personal assessments and analyses as well as information from primary sources. In other words, I am expecting you to incorporate your previous assignments as well as your experiences and thoughts regarding the many informal assessments and exercises we did throughout the semester. I also will be looking for references to material we’ve covered in class, material from your textbook, and material from at least one primary source.

Remember, empirical, primary-source articles and sources are basically original reports of research studies that are published in scholarly journals, such as the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, or books. Secondary (second-hand) reviews of original research articles, such as those found in newspapers, news magazines, and psychology-related magazines (e.g., Psychology Today and the APA Monitor on Psychology) are not appropriate. It is your responsibility to make sure that your article or source is appropriate. If you are unsure about an article you are considering for your paper, it is your responsibility to check with me.

Again, after considering and selecting two of the major theories or perspectives we’ve covered in class, choose one topic or concept within each theory/perspective that you will apply to your own personality and behavior.

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