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Personal & Practical Applications Essay

The purpose of this paper is to afford you the opportunity to express your understanding and appreciation of psychology as it relates to your own experiences and aspirations. In other words, this paper will assess how well you can relate various psychological theories, concepts, and principles to real life – specifically, your own life

You are to briefly describe A) the kind of work you are currently doing and/or the kind of work you plan to do in the future, and/or B) any personal/family issues you may currently have and/or plan to have in the future and/or have had in the past (and would care to share), such as your past or present relationship with your parents, present or future relationship with a significant other, present or future child-rearing plans, etc. Then, in some detail, describe how things you have learned in this course have given you the kind of information and insight that will contribute to your happiness and success in life. Make sure you explain which specific theories, concepts, or principles are particularly relevant and precisely how and why they are important. Do not simply copy terms and definitions. Demonstrate true understanding through application rather than recitation.

If you have any questions about this assignment or any problems completing in by the due date, make sure to consult with me well in advance of the due date. Your paper must be at least 5 full double-spaced typed pages in length, and this sheet should be stapled (not clipped) to the top of it prior to submission. Please do not place your paper in a special folder or use a special cover. Thank you. HOW TO DO WELL ON THIS PAPER

Submit your paper on the due date.

Make sure your paper is at least 5 full double-spaced pages. Do not make your margins more than 1 inch and do not use a font larger than 12. Remember that this is a psychological paper. Do not talk about anything if you are not going to relate it to a specific psychological theory, concept, or principle. Keep in mind that anything and everything you have done, are doing, or plan to do is fair game for this paper. You may focus on work or family, you may focus on the present or the future, or you may spread your discussions across several aspects of your life. That is entirely up to you. But do not fill up pages with long descriptions of your experiences, plans, relationships, etc.
Instead, provide specific explanations of how an understanding of those specific psychological theories, concepts, or principles will help you be a better  professional/parent/friend/partner/spouse/student or whatever out there in the real world.

For example, do not write something like “My boyfriend and I are so much in love and we’re going to get married and live happily ever after.” Instead, write something like “Learning about Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love helped me realize why my past loves didn’t last, and has given me confidence that my current relationship, which contains all three elements, will in fact be as successful as I think it will be.” There is no set number of theories, concepts, or principles you must apply in this paper. However, if you do not identify a least 6 different theories, concepts, or principles in your discussions, that will result in a major loss of points. Also keep in mind that the asterisks in the notes are there to help you study for the exams and are not tied into your papers. Therefore, you should feel free to use any theory, concept, or principle you feel is relevant whether or not it is marked with an asterisk. Attend class and pay attention.

Read the assignment and keep it in mind as we cover all of the material in class. It is strongly suggested that from the beginning of the semester, you make indications on the notes or on a separate piece of paper every time we go over something that you feel will be relevant to this paper. If you do this, putting together the 5 pages at the end of the semester will be easy. If you wait until the last minute and have not really thought about this paper until then, you may have a great deal of difficulty. As you write your paper, make sure you understand what you’re talking about. Throwing in meaningless garbage and gibberish will not get you any points and is likely to result in your losing several points. If you don’t understand what you need to do, if you’re having trouble writing 5 full pages, if there is a problem submitting the paper on the due date, and/or if you are having any other kind of difficulty, then call me, e-mail me, or see me before or after class well before that due date. There is no excuse for not getting whatever help you need. Psychology has always been an intriguing subject for me.

It can be applied in many different aspects of life. It can help understand the world around us more clearly; people we interact with, and can contribute to self-improvement. Even though we might not be always aware of that, we engage in psychological principles and concepts on daily basis. People are social creatures. We live with others and the effect that other people have on the behavior of individuals is tremendous. As a strong example I will refer to Bystander apathy. In theory this psychological concept sounds frightening; when you witness it with your own eyes and experience it, it gets even more disturbing. When a person who faces a situation of another person in distress but does so with the knowledge that others are also present and available to respond is slower and less likely to respond to the person in distress than is a person who knows that he or she is the only one who is aware of the distress.

I once found myself in that situation when I was in eleventh grade. We were having a 10 minute break and there was a confrontation between two if my classmates. The two boys began to fight and there was no teacher in the classroom. They were beating and slamming on each other outrageously. Even though everyone knew what was happening was not good, nobody acted, nobody tried to stop the fight or even to call a teacher. Learning about this phenomenon as a psychological concept, I understood how in such setting the responsibility is being diffused among the bystanders and the more people are present during an emergency, the less likely someone is to become involved in the problem.

I am at the point in my life that I have to make a major decision about my future as far as my career goes, and I have chosen to follow a path in the field of medicine, more particularly dentistry. Having a goal like that means I have to be extremely motivated, ambitious, and have a drive to succeed. After the publishing of a book titled “Type A Behavior and Your Heart” in 1974, which was a result of 3 decades of research into the influence of certain personality characteristics, numerous researchers have explored what Mayer Freidman, one of the two medical doctors who published the book, called Type A personality. Type A people are workaholics – they are very competitive, ambitious, hate to waste time, and are easily annoyed. They feel a constant sense of pressure. Often successful but frequently unsatisfied, they always seem to want to go faster and do more. Furthermore, type A person finds it difficult to relax and do nothing.

In this sense I refer to myself as a Type A Personality. There is something behind my thoughts that always reminds me I should not spend a single day that’s not worth, or without any purpose, and if I do so, I feel uncomfortable and dissatisfied, almost depressed. I can never imagine myself doing anything different in the future than what I wanted since I was 4 years old, and I have a clear resolution on what I have to do to accomplish my goal, therefore, I strive for it with every move I make. I was surprised to know that there is a “type” of personality that describes my personal feeling about the individual I am.

Having a goal to become a Doctor in a specific area of study from a very young age, and keeping that goal in mind as I greatly succeeded in High School, with the hopes of having good transcripts when I’m applying to Medical Schools years into the future is evidence enough of my personality type. With aspirations of becoming a Dentist, my specialty areas of study are the sciences and mathematics. I have a calculating, and very observational mindset at all times. I am going to discuss several people with whom I have personal relationships. Throughout the span of time I have known the individuals I will discuss, I have basically been collecting data on them through the method of natural observation. I suppose we all are doing so with those closest to us, whether we are conscious of it or not.

I have a fourteen month-old Niece named Scarlett. From a Developmental Psychology standpoint, my relationship with the cutest baby on planet Earth is a goldmine of opportunity to witness a child’s development from birth. Sensory Development is a joy to see grow in my niece. It seems that every day she is doing something new, and displaying that she is becoming more and more aware of her environment, her body, her physical limitations (or lack thereof), and her relationship with other people. As she grew from infancy to her current age, we have meticulously documented her every move. There exists thousands of hours of digital video showing her progress. Since she is the first grandbaby in the family, she gets all the attention, however, my sister is six months pregnant with the next one already! She is in the stage of pregnancy known as the fetal period, until she has him (it’s a boy) by her due date in February.

However, by assessing the documentation of Scarlett and the milestones in her life, I have compared her physical development to all the data in the most common books and websites. Scarlett most definitely falls within The Average Range Vs. Normal Range for Developmental Milestones, in fact, she is ahead on most of them, even though it supposedly has no predictive power, we are still proud. Scarlett displays proof of Observational Learning. My sister is also a Nanny for 2 other babies, and she sees her mother feeding, changing, holding, putting kids in high chairs and baby seats, etc. She has a doll that is actually a 2 foot tall representation of Jerry Garcia from the band The Grateful Dead. We could not figure out for the life of us why she kept removing Jerry’s pants, or why Jerry’s pants were removable for that matter. One day the pants came off, and we saw her attempting to put a diaper on Jerry. As soon as we realized what she was doing, and why, we started to encourage the behavior, and now Jerry always has a clean diaper, his own little baby seat, an old broken high-chair that was around so he can sit at the table, and most importantly, Jerry has his pants on.

Scarlett witnesses her mother doing these things every day, and she wants to mimic her. The theory that Piaget suggested; that children start with no way of dealing with the world, no way to think. They have to make it up and develop the skills in their minds about how to get what they want, express what they don’t like, figure out this authority and power thing, and so many other factors that I’m not going to get into because it is a long list. He proposed that children develop in stages. I perceive Scarlett to be in the Sensorimotor Stage, which starts at birth and spans until about the age of two years, when the Preoperational Stage begins. However, although she is technically in the Sensorimotor Stage, where her senses, motor skills, problem solving skills, and response to authority are all developing, she is starting to display some onset tendencies of Preoperational Stage traits.

She is beginning to show ego-centric personality traits, like not sharing, thinking the world revolves around her, screaming when she doesn’t get her way, and other such self-centered thought patterns, which is completely normal for someone her age. Another aspect of watching Scarlett grow is watching her problem-solving abilities. Watching her play certain games, and engaging in activities with her that require her to go from point A to point B by using different strategies has helped her develop earlier than a child normally would. She displays strong strategy use in the form of Algorithm, and Heuristic models. She is now capable of using toys that require going through steps to finish, such as putting all the blocks in the box with the holes shaped like the individual blocks, and putting the different sized colored rings on the holder that stacks them in order from largest at the bottom in descending order up to the smallest at the top.

Heuristically, she displays more and more clever ways to achieve the same results. Before, she would dig in the toy box and cry until she found what she wanted, now she’ll just dump the whole thing out, grab what she wants, and put everything else back. Scarlett has a strong will, and will actually perform things that we did not know she was capable of when she thinks nobody can see her, and when we are consciously present, she’ll pretend she can’t do something so someone will do it for her, and other self-centered behaviors. Discussing her Ego-Centric, Self Centered, and Strong-Willed Temperment leads me into yet another set of Psychological Principles that are starting to be used around their house. I’m talking about the development of Scarlett’s character as described under the umbrella of Social-Emotional Development, which includes how she is parented. She has just passed a phase where she had a serious Attachment issue with her Mother.

If she was apart from her mother for one second, it was like a capital offense, and the screaming would begin forthwith. Thank God that’s over. My sister and Brother-in Law take an assertive, Authoritative Parenting style. Scarlett is still in her Preconventional Stage of Moral Development, and doesn’t understand why she can’t do certain things, and from time-to-time, they use different forms of Discipline. Even though Scarlett doesn’t understand why she can’t flush random objects from the house down the toilet, but she does understand things Pavlov’s way, because she responds to Classical Conditioning, having things she likes taken away, in a Negative Punishment fashion, and Positive Reinforcement when she behaves.

Operant Conditioning seems to work as well. Skinner proposed that behaviors that are reinforced will continue, and so far it seems to be true when dealing with Scarlett. She understands what you say to her, even though she can’t respond with words. This is known as Receptive Language Development. Scarlett is a doll, and the cutest child alive. Watching her grow is an unprecedented joy. However, as a Doctor I will be confronted with people from all ends of the age-spectrum.

Another psychological concept that I want to talk about is the Adulthood; more particularly Late Adulthood, and Theories of Psychological Development in Late Adulthood. Since I have been in a close relationship with my great-grandfather and great-grandmother, and at present I live with them under the same roof, I have witnessed the transformation in their personalities during the years. The final psychological conflict of Erikson’s (1950) theory, ego integrity versus despair, involves coming to terms with one’s life. My grandparents have arrived at a sense of integrity, feel whole, complete, and satisfied with their achievements. They have adapted to inevitable triumphs and disappointments and realize that the paths they followed, abandoned, and never selected were necessary for fashioning a meaningful life course.

The capacity to view one’s life in the larger context of all humanity contributes to the serenity and contentment that accompany integrity. “We will hope for 30 more years of life, and it is in God’s hands how much he will decide to give us,” my great-grandfather says. He has accepted his life course as something that had to be the way it was, and the only thing left to do is simply enjoy the rest of his life by seeing his accomplishment he achieved raising his children and grandchildren and get a charge out of their achievements. He and his wife aged gracefully, felt satisfied with their achievements, and could often be seen walking hand in hand, deeply in love.

In addition to the concepts related to the Late Adulthood I have another example concerning the theory of Reminiscence. One of my close friend’s grandfathers was a junior Sergeant in the Balkan war, and he has told stories about people and events from that time since I know him. Every time I try to start a conversation on a different topic, his brain finds a way to relate it to his past as a soldier on the battlefield. Clearly, life review is not essential for adapting well to late adulthood. Reminiscence that is self-focused, engaged in to reduce boredom and revive events in which the person felt important and significant, is linked to adjustment problems.

As I have observed everyone close to me in life, had our ups and downs, seen people go through changes, and gone through major changes myself, I now see how just about all of the principles, concepts, and theories of Psychology weaved in and through my life. I know as a Dentist, that I will still be responsible to the Board that will license me to practice, the people that uphold the integrity of the medical profession. If I’m not well-versed enough in all aspects of medicine I know I won’t be able to practice, so that’s one reason this is important. Having an understanding of certain concepts and applying them in my relationships with others has helped me tremendously, and I am grateful.

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