Term Paper Handout: Psychological Life-History
This will be an 8-10 page typed, double-spaced paper attempting to write your own “psychological life-history”. Of course such an undertaking will at best be incomplete in such limited space. Identify and select what you see as the handful of most important, formative elements in your development and integrate them into a narrative that communicates both who you are (your action tendencies, ways of feeling, beliefs and cognitive style) and how you got that way. Your paper will consist of two sections:
Section A: Personality Theory – 2 pages
This need not be comprehensive or fully integrated. I want you to summarize what have been the three or four most important theoretical insights, empirical findings, philosophical themes or clinical categories that we have covered in this class. Included here must be a brief summary of whatever you see as most relevant to identifying your own personality pattern. This section will provide the psychological context for your life-story.
Section B: Life-Story – 6 to 8 pages
- Basic demographic information (birth-place, geographical movements, number, age and sex of siblings, marital status and occupations of parents, etc).
- Whatever experiences and circumstances you believe have contributed to making you uniquely “you”. Most importantly, identify two to four “themes” that have dominated and shaped your life. Examples of life themes might include loss, intimacy vs. commitment, self-assertion, care for others, loyalty, seduction, competition, and the list goes on and on.
- One or two core “life-parables” – brief narratives of a specific event that either profoundly shaped your personality, or symbolically expresses one or more of the deep and recurrent themes in our life. The event may be of obvious significance (e.g. death of a relative, baptism, etc) or more subtle and personal significance (e.g. confrontation with a high school teacher; crossing the street for the first time as a child).
- Describe your present personality in the context of the personality theories that you discussed in Section A. Give examples of recent behaviors, emotions, and/or thoughts that exemplify the prominent aspects of your personality.
- Describe your results from at least three personality inventories we completed during lecture, and discuss your reaction to these results.
Your selection of formative experiences will be guided by your theory (philosophy) of personality identified in Section A. The first two pages of your paper should briefly but clearly articulate the main components of your personality philosophy. You can organize section B however you like; you need not follow the linear model or order of 1, 2, 3, etc., given above, as long as you clearly cover the indicated areas. Feel free to be as frank and honest as you are comfortable – no one but the instructor and TA will see these papers.
Your paper will be evaluated in part in terms of how successful you are in:
1) Articulating a vision of personality, and using it to identify and organize the relevant data of your experience
2) Demonstrating perceptive and sensitive understanding of your own life story. Does your paper show evidence of increased self-honesty and understanding?
3) Demonstrating clear writing style and employing appropriate writing mechanics.
No references or footnoting is required (unless direct quotations are used). This paper should be all in YOUR OWN WORDS!
Term Paper Grading Rubric
_____ Personality Theory (9 points)
_____ Description of important theoretical insight, empirical finding, etc. #1 (3 points)
_____ Description of important theoretical insight, empirical finding, etc. #2 (3 points)
_____ Description of important theoretical insight, empirical finding, etc. #3 (3 points)
_____ Life Story: Basic Demographic Information (9 points): 2 points for each of the following pieces of
information, for up to 9 points: birth place; geographical movements; number, age, and sex of siblings;
marital status; occupation of parents; other relevant information
_____ Life Story: Themes (9 points)
_____ Description of what makes you “you” (3 points)
_____ Identification of theme #1 (3 points)
_____ Identification of theme #2 (3 points)
_____ Life Story: Life parable (9 points)
_____ Personality in Context of Theory (9 points)
_____ Behaviors, emotions, and/or thoughts related to theory #1 (3 points)
_____ Behaviors, emotions, and/or thoughts related to theory #2 (3 points)
_____ Behaviors, emotions, and/or thoughts related to theory #3 (3 points)
_____ Personality Inventories (9 points)
_____ Results (and reaction to results) of Test #1 (3 points)
_____ Results (and reaction to results) of Test #2 (3 points)
_____ Results (and reaction to results) of Test #3 (3 points)
_____ Does the paper show evidence of increased self-honesty and understanding? (6 points)
_____ Writing Style/Mechanics (9 points)
_____ 1” Margins all around?
_____ 12 point font throughout?
_____ No comma errors
_____ No type-o’s
_____ No run-on sentences
_____ No incomplete sentences
_____ No unclear sentences
_____ No incorrect verb tenses
_____ No awkward sentences
Note: 6 point penalty for each day late
______ TOTAL (out of 69)