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Homework

Homework

1. Using one specific personality perspective that we studied in the course, write an analysis based on Deborah Tannen’s book, You just don’t understand: Women and men in conversation (Ballantine Books). That is, use one personality perspective to explain why males and females have the specific linguistic characteristics that Tannen describes.

2. Describe three situations in your own life in which you experience (or previously experienced) contingencies of reinforcement that was/were used to control or change your behavior. Include one example of each of these types of feedback: positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment and negative punishment. For each situation, describe the contingency of reinforcement, the reinforcement schedule, and whether it consisted of strong versus weak reinforcers. How does/did each of these reinforcement situations affect your behavior? Your essay should demonstrate that you understand each of these aspects of reinforcement.

3. Discuss the ways in which personality may affect the environments we choose, and how these environments may in turn strengthen the personality characteristics that led us to choose the environment in the first place. Use an example from your personal experience (of yourself or someone you know well). To what degree did you/he/she choose that environment based on personality, and to what degree did you/he/she change personality as a consequence of changing environments?

4. Choose two of the eight basic perspectives on personality from the course, and apply them to understanding and/or solving one current social problem. For example, how would Erikson versus Skinner explain why we have a high rate of pregnancy among unmarried teens, and how it could be reduced? Or, how would Bandura versus Sullivan explain and deal with the issue of high drop-out rates for African-American and Latino high-school students? How about drug abuse in the inner city? Violence in schools? High levels of cheating among college students? People running red lights? Domestic violence? Financial scams that cheat the elderly? These are just examples—any societal problem can be addressed from any two of the perspectives.

5. Read the book, The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do, by Judith Rich Harris (Free Press, 1998). Take the main ideas of that book as they are applied to personality, and compare to the principles of an evolutionary perspective on personality. Where are the two approaches in agreement, and how do they differ?

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