In this assignment, critically evaluate psychological research and theories relevant to the statement that psychology has studied people’s capacity to adapt to new circumstances.
You are asked to draw on research from Weeks 18 and 21. You should draw on and discuss at least two peer-reviewed academic journal articles from outside the module materials. If you do not include and discuss two journal articles in your essay, you will lose five marks from your overall score. To find relevant journal articles, you will need to complete a literature search – please don’t forget to include this to balance the essay.
In Week 18, Book 2, Chapter 6 (‘How does my brain work? Neuroscience and plasticity’) the topic of neural plasticity is the most relevant to this question. Neuropsychological research in this field consists particularly of case studies with individuals with brain damage and it shows that, following brain damage, brains ‘rewire’ so that undamaged brain regions take over the role of regions that have been damaged. As is discussed in Section 4.3 of the chapter, brain plasticity suggests that the brain is not a static entity but a dynamic system that can adapt to new circumstances. This is discussed in more detail in Section 5 of the chapter on how language in the brain is organised and reorganised following brain damage. Section 6 also discusses connectionist computational models that seek to capture the idea of a dynamic cognitive and neural system. You may also find the activities from this week useful for this essay. For instance Activity 1 ‘Aphasia and plasticity’ considers brain plasticity in relation to language abilities.
In Week 21, Book 3, Chapter 2 (‘What is the point of childhood? Early experiences and social relationships’) considers how psychology has studied people’s capacity to adapt to new circumstances through development. The field of child development as a whole is about how people adapt to the new circumstances they encounter as they develop. There are many examples from the chapter that you can use for this assignment. Sections 2.2 and 2.3 consider attachment and discuss how caregivers’ behaviour impacts on children’s attachment behaviour. Section 2.3 also brings in some additional research which shows that infant attachment is not only the result of the quality of the infant−caregiver relationship, but it may also be related to genetic predispositions. This shows the dynamic interplay between ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’ in development. Section 3 of the chapter considers the development of cognitive abilities, such as theory of mind and language, and it illustrates the linkage between cognitive development and social environment. Section 4 of the chapter, on social development, is also relevant for this assignment as it considers how children learn to function well in their social environment. You might find the two activities for this week helpful as well. Activity 1 ‘Piaget’s developmental stages’ considers Piaget’s ideas on egocentrism which relates to theory of mind development. Activity 2 Part A ‘“Reading the mind in the eyes” test’ and Activity 2 Part B ‘Hutchins, Prelock and Chace’s ToM task battery’ explores theory of mind research.
External sources of information for Option B
In addition to the module materials, you should draw on and discuss at least two peer-reviewed academic journal articles from outside the module materials. If you do not include and discuss two journal articles in your essay, you will lose five marks from your overall score. To find relevant journal articles, you will need to complete a literature search, entering relevant search terms for your area of interest. You may find it helpful to revisit the activity you completed in Week 2 on ‘Literature searching in psychology’ as well as the Week 20 activity on ‘Advanced search and evaluation techniques’ to refresh your memory of how to go about sourcing relevant literature for your assignment.
Ensure that you include references for the journal articles you use in your essay.
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