Biological Psychology ; how various biological determinants of behaviour are described and reported in the popular press. The aim of the essay is to encourage the student to provide his or her own point of view on some of the important issues in biological psychology. As always, it is necessary to back up your views with evidence. This evidence should come from the psychological literature as well as examples from the popular press. The topic for this essay relates to how various biological determinants of behaviour are described and reported in the popular press: Often you will see short popular press items that briefly summarise research findings relating to topics in biological psychology.
Choose two general topic areas in biological psychology. Discuss how accurate are these brief popular press summaries in describing these general topic areas. In what way are these brief articles reductionistic in trying to get their point across?
Finally, would readers – that is, the consumers of these popular press articles – lead happier, more fulfilling lives if they knew more about the psychobiological underpinnings of behaviour?
A few clarifications:
- The popular press, otherwise known as the media, includes newspaper articles, magazine articles, or articles from any freely available webpage source. Do not include any stories from broadcast media such as television or radio.
- To ascertain how accurate some of these popular press articles are, you need to examine the actual research article(s) from which the summary was derived. At least five of your references should be (formal) journal articles.
- While this essay requires you to think about reductionism, the essay itself is not about reductionism, so do not turn the essay into a long discussion about reductionism.
- In choosing your two areas, think about what the material covered in Biological Psychology. For example, stress, sleeping patterns, psychological disorders, memory, circadian rhythms, control of weight, and many other topic areas may be examined. Choose two topic areas. Virtually anything goes, so long as you can relate the topic back to its biological determinants.
- In terms of a formal marking rubric, one third of the marks relate to your discussion of how accurate the popular press articles are with respect to the actual research from which the press articles are derived, one third of the marks relate to whether or not the descriptions in the popular press are reductionistic, and about one third of the marks relate to a discussion of whether or not people would lead happier lives if they knew more about biological determinants of behaviour.
- Around 10% of the marks will be allocated to APA formatting.
- You should include at least three small screenshots of press items (e.g., the headlines or actual pictures of the articles) that cover the two general topic areas you have selected and at least three screenshots of the journal articles you reference. The figures are to be embedded into your essay to help get your points across. How large should a screenshot be? No bigger (in length and width) than this particular dotpoint.
- The most common question about this assignment is “how many references do I need to use?” The answer is, you should use as many as you need to answer the question and to get your point across. The essay assignment is worth 50% of your overall mark.
Please adhere to the following instructions:
- The page size must be A4. All essays must be typed; no handwritten assignments will be accepted.
- Please make sure your formatting is how you intend it to be when you upload your assignment into Turnitin. It is extremely unlikely that Turnitin alters the formatting of an uploaded document, so the version of the essay that is uploaded will be marked. Hence, upload your assignment as a pdf file.
- Use Times or Times New Roman 12-point font (Times is the font used in this document) with 2.54-cm margins left and right, top and bottom for the entire document. The body of the essay should be double-spaced; the abstract and the reference section may be single-spaced. If you follow these instructions, you should have a maximum of 25 lines per A4 page for the body of the essay. In other words, do not include more than 25 lines per A4 page.
- Include an abstract, and a references section. The title page and abstract should be on their own page. Begin the reference section on a separate page. The body of the essay (excluding the title page, abstract, and references section) should be no more than 10 pages. This, however, does not mean that you have to fill up to 10 pages of writing. If you are tempted to hand in much longer papers, remember that book and journal editors often penalise excessively long submissions by sending the manuscript back for editing, or by refusing to read the submission.
- If you go over the 10-page limit or format your essay in a way that looks like it goes over the 9-page limit, then the lines you write in excess of the 10-page limit will not be read or considered. In addition, you will be automatically penalised a minimum of 5 points (out of 50).
- To be clear and unambiguous: Everything you write in your essay – excluding the abstract, and references section – must be within the 10-page limit.
- Your essay must be formatted in APA style. This includes the title page, abstract, and references section. You should also apply the correct APA formatting style to any newspaper articles, magazine articles, or webpages referenced in your essay.
- All screenshots embedded in your essay must have an appropriate APA-formatted figure caption, just like it would appear in a journal article published by the APA.
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