Introductory Psychology Writing Assignment

Introductory Psychology Writing Assignment

Assignment Overview

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All Introductory Psychology students are required to complete an Introductory Psychology Writing Assignment. There are many beliefs about psychology that are commonly held by the general public, despite the fact that they are not generally supported by scientific research. Often, people evaluate how likely these claims are to be true based upon their personal experience, anecdotes or stories, and how well the claims match their intuitions about human behavior, thoughts, and feelings. Scientists test the accuracy of these claims by systematically collecting and analyzing these observations (i.e., data) to make determinations about what is true.

In this assignment, you are going to be a psychological detective. Listed below are five common beliefs that have been questioned by many psychologists. You will pick ONE of the questionable claims listed below. Your job is to find two empirical research articles that scientifically test some aspect of your chosen claim, and to use that evidence to evaluate the claim’s support (or lack thereof). For each of the claims, some suggested keywords to begin your search are provided (you likely will need to search other terms, as well), along with a sample empirical research article addressing this claim. You may not use this article as one of your two sources.

Challenged psychological beliefs:

The lunar cycle (i.e. a full moon) affects people’s psychology.

Some Suggested Keywords for PsycInfo: (“lunar” OR “moon*”) AND (“effect” OR “behavior”)

Sample empirical research article addressing this topic:

Gorvin, J. J., & Roberts, M. S. (1994). Lunar phases and psychiatric hospital admissions. Psychological

Reports, 75(3), 1435-1440. doi:


Schizophrenic individuals are more violent than those without such a diagnosis.

Some Suggested Keywords: (“schizophren*”) AND (“aggress*” OR “violen*”)

Sample empirical research article:

Cheung, P., Schweitzer, I., Crowley, K., & Tuckwell, V. (1997). Violence in schizophrenia: Role of

hallucinations and delusions. Schizophrenia Research, 26(2-3), 181-190. doi:


Highly narcissistic people tend to be more successful in their careers than people low in narcissism.

Some Suggested Keywords: (“narciss*”) AND (“career” OR “professional”) AND (“success”)

Sample empirical research article:

Ridge, J. W., & Ingram, A. (2017). Modesty in the top management team: Investor reaction and

performance implications. Journal of Management, 43(4), 1283-1306. doi:


Children raised in single parent households experience more gender-related issues than children raised in two

parent households.

Some Suggested Keywords: (“single parent”) AND (“gender roles” OR “gender dysfunction”) Sample empirical research article:

Jang, S. J., Zippay, A., & Park, R. (2012). Family roles as moderators of the relationship between schedule

flexibility and stress. Journal of Marriage and Family, 74(4), 897-912. doi:


Marijuana is not addictive.

Some Suggested Keywords: (“marijuana” OR “cannab*”) AND (“addiction”)

Sample empirical research article:

Sharma, D., & Money, S. (2010). Carryover effects to addiction-associated stimuli in a group of marijuana and

cocaine users. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 24(9), 1309-1316. doi:


Assignment Details

Writing Guidelines

Try to avoid sharing personal experiences and/or personal opinions.
DO NOT use quotes.
To receive credit for this paper, you must review the articles in your own words.
Make sure that you clearly cite your sources.
You are expected to write effectively and thoughtfully.
(Links to an external site.)


Formatting Guidelines

The paper should be 3-4 pages (not including title page and references) in length and should be typed.
The entire paper should be double-spaced with 12-point font size.
All margins should be one inch.


Paper Outline


Include an APA-formatted title page.
Introduce the topic and explain the purpose of the paper
Identify which claim you are investigating.
Explain why the topic is important and interesting.


Summarize the two empirical research articles that you read.
Briefly (no more than a few sentences) describe how you located your sources.
Selecting your articles: BE SURE THAT YOU SELECT EMPIRICAL STUDY ARTICLES FROM SCHOLARLY JOURNALS. Empirical study articles present research conducted by the authors (i.e. not literature reviews or editorials). To ensure that you’re selecting empirical study articles, check the abstract for references to participants, procedure, and results. If the abstract does not clearly indicate that this article is empirical search, you can check the text of the article for a “Methods” section.
Evaluate the sources—do these sources appear credible/trustworthy (i.e. How was the research funded; What was the review process for publication)? Why or why not? (Note: You will need to read the entire article in order to do this – not just the abstract.)
Describe what the researchers did in their study.
State who was in the study (participants).
Include the number of men, women, ages, ethnicities, etc.
State how the participants were asked to be in the study (recruited)
State what the participants were asked to do.
In addition to naming the questionnaires or tasks, also explain what the questionnaires are measuring and what the tasks are. Describe them well enough so that the reader has an idea of what kinds of questions the participants answered or what kinds of tasks they completed.
In what ways were the results consistent with the hypotheses/predictions? Any surprising findings? Do not worry about trying to understand the statistics; the author will explain the statistics in the “Discussion” section of the article.
What did you perceive as being the strengths of these studies? What were their limitations?

III. Addressing the Claim

Draw a conclusion about your claim. Does the claim seem accurate or inaccurate?
Be sure to support your answer.
When were your articles published? Would you expect the findings to still hold true? Why?
Which groups of people do these articles help you better understand? Do these articles help you understand all people, or only certain subgroups (i.e. are there populations for whom you think you’d find different results than those found in the articles – generations, nationalities, race, etc.?). You’re NOT being ask who would be interested in this research, but to whom the findings apply.
I Reference Page
You need a complete reference for the article that you reviewed. Be sure that your references are in the most current APA style.

REFERENCES: You will probably have only two references on your reference page. List them in alphabetical order. The reference page should be on a separate page. The APA format should be used for your reference page:

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