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Ap Psychology Essay Prompts

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AP Psychology Essay Prompts and

Scoring Rubrics

The enclosed document includes an essay prompt for each unit in AP Psychology and a corresponding scoring rubric. The purpose of this activity is to increase the students’ awareness of how AP exam readers grade from a rubric. Emphasis is placed on the definition of terms and the application of those terms. Units include:

Introduction to Psychology

Psychobiology

Sensation and Perception

Memory

Learning

Nature and Nurture of Behavior

Developing Person

Thinking, Language, and Intelligence

States of Consciousness

Motivation and Emotion Personality Stress and Health Psychological Disorders Therapy Social Psychology

Unit: Introduction to Psychology

Describe the different perspectives from which psychologists examine behavior and mental processes, and explain their complementarity. Your answer should include: ➢ Neuroscience ➢ Evolutionary ➢ Behavior Genetics ➢ Psychodynamic ➢ Behavioral ➢ Cognitive ➢ Social-cultural

Rubrics

Note: The application portion on the rubrics may include a variety of answers. This is simply an example of possible answers. The perspectives have more than one complement.

|Term |Definition |Application |
| | | |
|Neuroscience |The study of how the neurological system affects such |It is complementary to evolutionary because|
| |things as emotions, memories, and sensory experiences. |the structures and functions of the brain |
| | |that promote survival are the most likely |
| | |to develop. |
|Evolutionary |The study of the natural selection of some traits that |It is complementary to the behavioral |
| |promotes genetic survival. |perspective because some behaviors may |
| | |enhance the chance to survival. |
|Behavior Genetics |The study of how much our psychological traits are |It is complementary to the cognitive |
| |attributed to our genetic make-up or as a result of |process because our thinking, language, and|
| |environmental influences. |intelligence may be the result of our |
| | |ability to adapt to our environment. |
|Psychodynamic |The study of how unconscious drives and conflicts may |It is complementary to the behavioral |
| |influence our lives |perspective in the investigation of how |
| | |much of our behavior is below our awareness|
| | |level. |
|Behavioral |The study of how we learn from the environment around |It is complementary to the social-cultural |
| |us. |perspectives in the investigation of how |
| | |differing situations can influence our |
| | |behavior. |
|Cognitive |The study of how we encode, process, and store |It is complementary to the neuroscience |
| |information. |perspective because our cognitive ability |
| | |is dependent on our brain function. |
|Sociocultural |The study of how behavior and thinking can vary across |It is complementary to the behavior |
| |socio-cultural situations. |genetics perspective because pro-social |
| | |behaviors may influence the genetics of one|
| | |culture as opposed to another. |

Unit: Psychobiology

Identify the four lobes of the cerebral cortex, and describe the sensory and motor functions of the cortex. Your answer should include the description and function of the following: ➢ Frontal lobe ➢ Parietal lobe ➢ Occipital lobe ➢ Temporal lobe

Rubrics

|Lobes |Description |Function |
| | | |
|Frontal |Located behind the forehead and is known especially for the |The fontal lobe is responsible for higher |
| |arch-shaped region at the back of the frontal lobe known as the motor|order thinking and the motor cortex |
| |cortex. |controls voluntary movements. |
|Parietal |Located on the top of the head and is known especially for the |The sensory cortex in the parietal lobe is |
| |sensory cortex which is parallel to the motor cortex and located at |responsible for registering and processing |
| |the front of the parietal lobe. |body sensations. |
|Occipital |Located at the back of the head and includes the visual cortex. |The visual cortex receives and begins |
| | |processing visual information. |
|Temporal |Located roughly above the ears and includes the auditory areas. |The auditory areas receives and begins the |
| | |processing of auditory information. |

Unit: Sensation and Perception

Discuss the different levels of visual information processing and the value of parallel processing. Your answer should include: ➢ Feature detection ➢ Color constancy ➢ Parallel processing

Rubrics

|Term |Definition |Application |
| | | |
|Feature detection |Neurons that receive information to specific features |Feature detection neurons pass the |
| |such as edges, angles, movements, etc. |information on to more complex neuron |
| | |systems which integrate the information |
| | |into a visual whole. |
|Color Constancy |Perceiving familiar objects as having consistent color |The experience of color not only depends on|
| |even in situations where the wavelengths reflected by |the wavelength information but the |
| |the object are altered. |surrounding context. It demonstrates that |
| | |our experience of color comes not just from|
| | |the object but from everything around it as|
| | |well. |
|Parallel processing |The processing of several pieces of information by |The brain divides a visual scene into |
| |integrating the work of different perceptual systems, |subdimensions but works on each aspect |
| |which work in parallel. |simultaneously to produce an integrated |
| | |perception. |

Unit: Memory

Describe the capacity and duration of long-term memory, and discuss the biological changes that may underlie memory formation and storage. Your answer should include: ➢ The definition of long-term memory ➢ The capacity and duration of long-term memory ➢ Hippocampus ➢ Long-term potentiation ➢ Activity of the amygdale

Rubrics

|Term |Definition |Application |
| | | |
|Long-term memory |Relatively permanent and limitless storehouse of|Necessary for the storage of information |
| |the memory system. |for future use. |
|Hippocampus |Part of the brain where explicit memories for |Explicit memories of names, images, and |
| |facts and episodes are processed and fed to |events are laid down via a this structure |
| |other brain regions for storage. |in the limbic system. |
|Long-term potentiation |An increase in a synapse’s firing potential |Prolonged strengthening of neural firing |
| |after brief, rapid stimulation. Believed to be |provides a neural basis for learning and |
| |a neural basis for leaning and memory. |remembering associations. |
|Activity of the amygdala |Structure of the brain which processes emotion |Emotionally arousing events will help make |
| |and boosts the activity in the brain’s |stronger and more reliable memories. |
| |memory-forming areas. |However, prolonged stress can corrode |
| | |neural connections. |

Unit: Learning

Explain the importance of Pavlov’s work, and describe how it might apply to an understanding of human health and well-being. Your answer should include: ➢ The concept of associative learning ➢ The importance of classical conditioning in adaptation ➢ The importance of classical conditioning in objective study of behavior

Rubrics

|Term |Description |Application |
| | | |
|Associative learning |Learning that happens when certain events |Staying away from settings or things |
| |occur together. |associated with a certain unwanted |
| | |behaviors may increase a person’s |
| | |well-being. |
|Adaptation |Learning based on prior experiences. |Associative learning can assist an |
| | |individual in adaptation to their |
| | |environment as well as identifying elements|
| | |of behavior to master their environment. |
|Objective study of behavior |Scientific model which included no |Classical conditioning terminology provided|
| |subjective judgments for explaining |the elementary building blocks in |
| |behavior |understanding more complex behaviors. |

Unit: Nature and Nurture of Behavior

Explain how the peer group and culture influence child development. Your answer should include: ➢ “selection effect” ➢ Parent vs. Peer Influence ➢ Cultural Norms

Rubrics

|Term |Definition |Application |
| | | |
|“selection effect” |Seeking out peers with similar attitudes and |Because children tend to select peers with |
| |interests. |similar attitudes and interests initially, |
| | |there may be a greater opportunity for peer|
| | |influence once the commonality has been |
| | |established. |
|Parent vs. peer influence |Parents have more input when it comes to |Parents are important in the formation of |
| |education, responsibility, religion, etc. Peers |basic values and standards of conduct. |
| |have more influence in cooperative and social |Peers are important because the child |
| |activities. |learns how to cooperate and interact with |
| | |follow peers. |
|Cultural Norms |Rules for accepted and expected behavior, that |Knowing the appropriate behaviors in a |
| |is shared by a large group of people. |particular culture free people of that |
| | |culture from fear of embarrassment or |
| | |insult and precludes awkward moments. |

Unit: Developing Person

Describe the early development of a self-concept and discuss possible effects of different parenting styles on children. Your answer should include: ➢ Self-concept ➢ Authoritarian parenting style ➢ Permissive parenting style ➢ Authoritative parenting style

Rubrics

|Term |Definition |Application |
| | | |
|Self-concept |The sense of one’s own identity and personal |A child’s major social achievement is a |
| |worth. |positive sense of self. |
|Authoritarian Parenting |Parenting style that imposes rules and expects |Children with authoritarian parents tend to|
| |unquestioning obedience. |be more rigid in self-acceptance and the |
| | |acceptance of others. |
|Permissive Parenting |Parenting style in which the parents submit to |Children with permissive parents tend to be|
| |their children’s desires, make few demands, and |more immature with little impulse control. |
| |use little punishment. | |
|Authoritative Parenting |Parenting style that is both demanding and yet |Children with the highest self-esteem, |
| |responsive. The parents set and enforce rules |self-reliance, and social competence tend |
| |but encourage open discussion and allow |to have authoritative parents. |
| |exceptions when making the rules. | |

Unit: Thinking, Language, and Intelligence

Discuss how we use trial and error, algorithms, heuristics, and insight to solve problems and how confirmation bias and fixation can interfere with effective problem solving.

Rubrics

|Term |Definition |Application |
| | | |
|Trial and error |Willingness to try a variety of possibilities in problem|The trial and error method may be used to |
| |solving until success is achieved. |solve a problem when no clear-cut solution |
| | |is favored or several possibilities are |
| | |tried until the very best solution is |
| | |chosen. |
|Algorithms |A step by step procedure use to solve problems. |Although all the steps may be labor |
| | |intensive, this problem solving method |
| | |guarantees a solution. |
|Heuristics |Simple strategy used to solve problems |Heuristics are more error- prone than |
| | |algorithms, but can be used with trail & |
| | |error to hit upon the answer. |
|Insight |Sudden flashes of inspiration. |Sometimes the problem-solving strategy is |
| | |not obvious to us, but the suddenly all the|
| | |pieces come together and a solution |
| | |develops. |
|Confirmation Bias |The search for information to confirms our individual |The reluctance to seek and consider |
| |ideas. |information that might disprove one’s |
| | |beliefs could interfere with effective |
| | |problem solving |
|Fixation |The inability to see a problem from a fresh perspective.|The reluctance to see a problem from a |
| | |different perspective will also interfere |
| | |with effective problem solving. |

Unit: States of Consciousness

Describe the physiological and psychological effects of depressants, stimulants, and hallucinogens and drug dependence.

Rubrics

|Term |Definition |Physiological Effects |Psychological Effects |
| | | | |
|Depressants |Drugs that calm neural activity |Slows the sympathetic nervous |Slows the brain activity that |
| |and slow body functions. |system activity including |controls judgment and |
| | |slurred speech, and performance |inhibitions. Alcohol makes us |
| | |deterioration. |more aggressive or helpful or |
| | | |self-disclosing if the |
| | | |tendencies are already present. |
| | | |Disrupts memory processing. |
|Stimulants |Drugs that excite neural |Speeds up the body functions |Energy and self-confidence rise,|
| |activity and arouse body |such as heart rate and |which accounts for why people |
| |functions. |breathing. |use it as a mood enhancer or to |
| | | |improve athletic performance. |
| | | |However when the drug |
| | | |stimulation ends, fatigue, |
| | | |headaches, irritability, and |
| | | |depression may occur. |
|Hallucinogens |Drugs that distort perceptions |Amplifies the body’s sensitivity|As the hallucinogenic experience|
| |and evoke sensory images in the |to colors, sounds, tastes, and |peaks, people frequently feel |
| |absence of sensory input. |smells. |separated from their bodies and |
| | | |experience dreamlike scenes as |
| | | |though they were real – so real |
| | | |that users may become |
| | | |panic-stricken or harm |
| | | |themselves. |
|Drug dependence |Continued use of a psychoactive |In the drug’s absence the user |When the drugs become an |
| |drugs which produces |may feel physical pain and |important part of the user’s |
| |neuroadaptation |intense cravings. |life as a way of relieving |
| | | |negative emotions or as other |
| | | |coping mechanisms. |

Unit: Motivation and Emotion

Discuss the importance of various motives for working, and identify the aims of industrial-organization psychology. Your answer should include: pay, relationships, or identity.

Rubrics

|Term |Definition |Application |
| | | |
|Pay |Financial compensation for work done. |Many individuals are simply motivated because |
| | |they need an income to support themselves. In |
| | |general, the amount of pay increases as the |
| | |amount of responsibility increases. |
|Relationships | | |
|Identity |One’s sense of self solidified by testing |People’s quality of life increases when they are |
| |and integrating various roles. |purposefully engaged in a meaningful activity. |
| | |The sense of self-esteem, competence, well-being,|
| | |and sense of identity increase with job |
| | |satisfaction. |
|Industrial-organizational Psychology |The application of psychology’s principles|This branch of psychology applies psychology’s |
| |to the workplace. |methods and principles to selecting and |
| | |evaluating workers, considers how work |
| | |environments and management types influence |
| | |worker motivation, satisfaction, and |
| | |productivity. |

Unit: Personality

Describe the social-cognitive perspective, and discuss the important consequences of personal control (internal/external locus of control), self-control, learned helplessness, and optimism.

|Term |Description |Application |
| | | |
|Social-cognitive Perspective |Views behavior as influenced by the interaction|We learn behaviors through conditioning, by |
| |between person (and their thinking) and their |observing, and modeling behaviors. However |
| |social context. |how we think about and interpret those |
| | |situations also influences our behavior. |
|Personal Control |Whether we learn to see ourselves as |Individuals with and external locus of control|
| |controlling, or as controlled by, our |perceive that chance or outside forces |
| |environment. |determine their fate. Individuals with and |
| | |internal locus of control believe that they |
| | |control their own destiny. Internals achieve |
| | |more in school, act more independently, enjoy |
| | |better health, and feel less depressed than do|
| | |“externals” In the social-cognitive |
| | |perspective it is preferable to have a greater|
| | |internal locus of control. |
|Self-Control |The ability to control impulses and delay |From the social-cognitive perspective, |
| |gratification. |self-control is a predictor of good |
| | |adjustment, better grades, and social success.|
|Learned Helplessness |The hopelessness and passive resignation a |From the social-cognitive perspective people |
| |person learns when unable to avoid repeated |repeatedly faced with traumatic events come to|
| |aversive events. |feel helpless, hopeless, and depressed, and |
| | |perceive control as external. |
|Optimism |Viewing events in a positive way. |Optimists are able to put a positive spin on |
| | |events in the face of adversity. According to|
| | |the social-cognitive perspective success |
| | |requires enough optimism to provide hope and |
| | |enough pessimism to prevent complacency. |
| | |Excessive optimism can blind us to real risks.|

Unit: Stress and Health

Describe how stress increases the risk of disease by inhibiting the activities of the body’s immune system. Your answer should include: B and T lymphocytes, macrophage, epinephrine and norepinephrine, and the fight-or-flight response.

|Term |Description |Application |
| | | |
|Stress |The process by which we perceive and |The nervous and endocrine systems are |
| |physiologically respond to certain events, |activated during the stress response, which|
| |called stressors, that we appraise as |has an influence on the immune system. |
| |threatening or challenging. | |
|B and T lymphocytes |While blood cells that defend the body by |B lymphocytes are formed in the bone marrow|
| |isolating and destroying foreign |and fights bacterial inflections. T |
| |substances. |lymphocytes are formed in the thymus and |
| | |attacks cancer cells, viruses, and foreign |
| | |substances. However, if these lymphocytes |
| | |react too strongly they may attack the |
| | |body’s own tissues causing such things as |
| | |arthritis or an allergic reaction. Or it |
| | |could under-react and a dormant virus could|
| | |erupt or cancer cells could multiply. |
| Macrophage |Process by which invading cells are |The B and T lymphocytes use the process of |
| |identified, pursued, and ingested. |macrophage to destroy invading cells. |
|Epinephrine and Norepinephrine |When the brain perceives a stressor, it |The greater the stress response, the more |
| |triggers an outpouring of epinephrine and |hormones are released into the bloodstream.|
| |norepinephrine which enter the bloodstream |The stress hormones in turn suppress the |
| |from adrenal glands |disease-fighting lymphocytes. |
|Fight or flight |Adaptive response in which the sympathetic |Stress leads to an aroused, fight-or-flight|
| |nervous system increases heart rate and |response and diverts enerby to mobilie the |
| |respiration, diverts blood from digestion |body for action. Therefore energy needed |
| |and skeletal muscles, and releases stored |by the immune system is now diverted making|
| |sugar and fat in preparation for the |us more vulnerable to foreign invaders. |
| |organism to stand its ground and fight or | |
| |flee a threatening situation. | |

Unit: Psychological Disorders

Describe the various symptoms and subtypes of schizophrenia, and discuss research on its causes. Your answer should include: paranoid, disorganized, catatonic, undifferentiated, and residual schizophrenia.

|Term |Definition |Application |
| | | |
|Schizophrenia |Split from reality in which the person |Actions profoundly disrupt social |
| |displays disorganized thinking, disturbed |relationships and during the most severe |
| |perception, and inappropriate emotions and |periods, people with schizophrenia live in |
| |actions. |a private inner world, preoccupied with |
| | |illogical ideas and unreal images. |
|Paranoid schizophrenia |Preoccupation with delusion or |Person holds on to the false belief that |
| |hallucination, often with themes of |they will be persecuted like Christ or |
| |persecution or gra ndiosity. |Martin Luther King or they have the false |
| | |belief that they are extremely important |
| | |and powerful. |
|Disorganized schizophrenia |Disorganized speech or behavior, or flat or|Often a person cannot filter out competing |
| |inappropriate emotion. |sensory stimuli and jump from one idea to |
| | |another resulting in “word salad.” Or |
| | |their emotions fluctuate between extremes. |
|Catatonic schizophrenia |Immobility (or excessive, purposeless |The person may perform senseless, |
| |movement), extreme negativism, and/or |compulsive acts, such as continually |
| |parrot-like repeating of another’s speech |rocking or subbing an arm. Those who |
| |or movements. |exhibit catatonia may remain motionless for|
| | |hours on end and then become agitated. |
|Undifferentiated schizophrenia |Many and varied symptoms |Person can exhibit symptoms from all the |
| | |different subtypes. |
|Residual schizophrenia |Withdrawal, after hallucinations and | |
| |delusions have disappeared. | |

|Causes |Physiological |Psychological |
| |Dopamine over-activity due to an excess of |Mother whose schizophrenia was severe and |
| |receptors |long-lasting |
| |Thalamus is smaller-than-normal |Separation from parents |
| |Flu – mother suffers from the flu during |Short attention span and poor muscle |
| |the middle of the child’s fetal |coordination |
| |development. |Disruptive or withdrawn behavior |
| |Genetics or inheriting a predisposition |Emotional unpredictability |
| | |Poor peer relations and solo play |

Unit: Therapy

Identify the basic characteristics of humanistic therapy, behavior therapy, and cognitive therapy.

|Term |Description |Application |
| | | |
|Humanistic Therapy |The aim is to boost self-fulfillment by |The most widely used is client-centered |
| |helping people grow in self-awareness and |therapy which focuses on a person’s |
| |self-acceptance |conscious self-perception and uses the |
| | |technique of active listening. |
|Behavior Therapy |Uses learning principles to eliminate the |Counterconditioning pairs the trigger |
| |unwanted behavior. |stimulus with a new response that is |
| | |incompatible with fear. |
| | |Systematic desensitization associates a |
| | |pleasant relaxed state with gradually |
| | |increasing anxiety-triggering stimuli. |
| | |Exposure therapies treat anxieties by |
| | |exposing people to the things they fear. |
| | |Aversive conditioning associates an |
| | |unpleasant state with an unwanted behavior.|
| | | |
| | |Token economy rewards desired behavior |
|Cognitive Therapy |Teaching people new, more constructive ways|Faulty cognitive processes could include: |
| |of thinking. | |
| | |Overgeneralization |
| | |Diminishing the positive |
| | |Emphasizing the negative |
| | |All-or-nothing thinking |

Unit: Social Psychology

Describe Milgram’s controversial experiments on obedience, and discuss their implications for understand our susceptibility to social influence.

➢ The participants were told that the study concerned the effect of punishment on learning. ➢ Participants drew slips form a hat to see who would be the “teacher” and who would be the “student.” ➢ The “learner” was strapped into a chair “wired” to an electric shock machine. ➢ The “teacher” sat in front of the machine with switches labeled with voltages. ➢ The “teacher” was given the task to teach and then test the learner on a list of word pairs. ➢ The “teacher” punished the “learner” for wrong answer by delivering brief electric shock. ➢ After each “learner’s” error, the “teacher” move up to the next higher voltage. ➢ After the eighth switch is activated the “learner” shouts that the shocks are painful. ➢ The experimenter prods the “teacher” to go on saying it is essential to continue, and the experiment requires that the “teacher” must continue. ➢ Milgram’s finding were that 63% complied fully – right up to the last switch.

Obedience was highest when: ✓ The person giving the orders was close at hand and was perceived to be a legitimate authority figure. ✓ The authority figure was supported by a prestigious institution. ✓ The victim was depersonalized, or at a distance. ✓ There were no role models for defiance.

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