Behavior explanation

The objective of these assignments is to use psychological concepts to explain and understand real-world human behavior. The behavior you select to focus on can be based on your own personal experience or that of some other person(s).

1. Identify a behavior you are interested in explaining

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This may be something as simple as explaining why you enjoy a particular type of food, something more complex such as explaining your friend’s inability to stop smoking, or why you cannot remember the answer to an exam question you knew the night before when you were studying. The choice is yours but you should pick a very specific single behavior that you are interested in explaining.

2. Observe the behavior you want to explain

Carefully observe the behavior every time it occurs. Take note of the time, situation, emotional frame of mind of the subject (you or another person), what usually happens before the behavior is performed and after it has taken place, and how often it occurs. Additionally, think about how this particular behavior fits into the individual’s daily routine, overall lifestyle, or life plans.

3. Identify and Apply a psychological concept to the behavior

Read and review resources to understand the psychological concept you have identified as a potential explanation for a given behavior. Think about how the concept provides a logical, coherent explanation for the behavior.

Ask yourself: How does the psychological concept you identified explain the behavior you observed?

Also ask yourself: Is there anything about the behavior that is unexplained? Are you satisfied that you have adequately explained the behavior? If not, identify additional concepts from one of the other chapters that may provide a more complete or logical explanation. Once you have done this, attempt to explain the behavior using these psychological concepts/principles.

4. Write your Behavior Explanation Paper

Your paper must be formatted in APA style and include four subsections in this order (following your overall introduction, and preceding your final conclusion):

Behavior Observation

Describe the behavior that you observed. Provide enough detail in this description so that I am able to understand what you observed. I should be able to ‘see’ the behavior from your description. Do not explain the behavior in this section – just describe it.

Concept Identification

Name and explain the psychological concept you identified to explain the behavior you observed. You must include from where in the course materials you read or viewed the information about the psychological concept. For example: (Chapter 14, p. 47)

Concept Application

This is the most detailed and important section of the paper.

Tell exactly how and why the psychological concept you identified explains the behavior you observed. Include enough detail so that I know you clearly understand the concept and how it explains the behavior. For example, if you have observed a behavior which you think was classically conditioned, you must show how all of the features of classical conditioning are involved in causing the behavior (e.g., US, UR, NS, CS, CR).

Evaluation and Limitations

Think critically and discuss anything about the behavior that is unexplained. Identify other psychological concepts from other chapters that may provide a more complete or logical explanation. Evaluate the concepts in terms of their ability to explain observations and discuss any limitations.

Here is the link to a “Sample Annotated Student Paper” that highlights APA format:

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