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Some Example Exam Questions

Here are some example exam questions. I have used many of them in the past, and I will at least use some of them this term. Note that they usually ask you to compare two theorists' ideas about some practical matter. This means you will need to get used to applying these abstract theories to real cases.

Example Exam Questions

Both Skinner and Gilligan talk about issues of morality, though Skinner phrases his in terms of "values." Compare these two views of morality and offer a critique of one from the perspective of the other.

Both Skinner and Milgram emphasize the influence of the environment. Explain the obedience studies in Skinnerian terms. From your understanding of Milgram, would he agree with this explanation? Why or why not?

Milgram mentions avoidance, denial, use of subterfuges, physical conversion, dissent, and disobedience as ways of relieving strain. How similar are Milgram's descriptions of each of these to a Freudian account of them? As an example, use accounts from the My Lai massacre.

Compare Freud's and Skinner's explanation of the behavior of Anna O. Would the therapies that Skinner and Freud suggest work? Would this mean that Freud or Skinner was "right?"

Gilligan explicitly takes issue with Freud and his definition of ego development. Explain the differences between (in Freud's terms) the "development of the ego" and (in Gilligan's terms) the development of a "sense of self " - particularly in relation to women.

Gilligan's system has as a crucial component a "conception of a self that includes the possibility for doing 'the right thing'." Critique this idea of self & moral choice from the perspective of Skinner's complaint about "weak methods of control."

How would Freud and Skinner explain the extensive literature of freedom? What would they recommend in its place?

How would Skinner account for what Freud described as "the Oedipus complex?" That is, describe in terms of behavioral psychology what Freud described as happening in the Oedipal period.

How would Skinner account for what Freud described as "transference?" That is, describe in terms of behavioral psychology what Freud described as happening in transference.

Explain Freud & Skinner's views on Free Will vs. Determinism. After doing this, give each theorist's explanation for why people have a "need" to feel free (or to say they are free).

Skinner and Freud each have ways of explaining certain social practices. Select two of the following social practices and describe why it takes the form it does from both a Freudian and behavioral perspective. Heroism. Religion. Maternal Behavior. Education.

The professor of old testament (p 47 in Milgram) might be used as an example of a person whose principles overcame obedience. What would Skinner and Milgram have to say about this interpretation of the case?

How would Freud, Skinner, and Milgram explain the behavior of Lt. Calley at My Lai?

How far does Milgram's analysis of obedience get you in understanding the phases of moral development in women that Gilligan describes? Does a Freudian or Skinnerian approach get you any further? What would Gilligan add to all of these?

Test Gilligan's theory of men's and women's approaches to moral decision making by using the cases Milgram describes in chapters 5 and 7. Describe how you use the cases to do this, and describe and defend your conclusions.

Tell the biological story of one of the syndromes Andreasen describes in chapter 4. Be sure to include reference to how neuro-anatomy and neuro-chemistry are involved in producing the symptoms, and how the somatic therapies for the syndrome relieve the symptoms. Explain why the somatic therapies do not work in some cases.

Use 3 different levels of explanation to explain the symptoms of one of the cases Andreasen relates. Suggested levels include: biological, cognitive, learning, social, and personality.

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