Term Paper Assignment - Getting Started

Pick a topic within social psychology that interests you. It does not necessarily have to be something that has been covered extensively in class; however, it does have to be a topic in social psychology. If you are unsure, ask me. Be sure to narrow your topic. For example, "stereotyping" is too broad. "Stereotype change" is still too broad. "Stereotype change via disconfirmatory exemplars" is more reasonable. You will most likely need to do some preliminary reading in order to narrow your topic.

You then have two options for your term paper for this class. Both options require that you read and learn more in depth about the theory and methods of studying a particular topic in social psychology. The aspect that differs between the two options is what you then do with your new expert knowledge: apply it to some real world situation or add to our store of basic knowledge.

1. "Save the World" option:
Review the literature on your topic with an eye to changing/improving some state of affairs in the world. What you wish to change or improve doesn't necessarily have to be a traditional social problem (prejudice, littering); you could have some other goal (like getting people to use a new Internet service). A possible format for this paper would be to introduce your social psychology topic (define it), tell why it is related to the social problem or situation to which you wish to apply it, and then present an integrated review of the literature on your social psychology topic, organized around the application. That is, as you cover the literature that has been written on your social psychology topic, you would explain how these findings can be used in your application. Another easier but probably not as sophisticated format for this paper would be to define your topic, review the literature on it, and then introduce the social problem or situation you wish to apply it to, recapping the literature findings you previously discussed as ways to solve the problem. Thus, in this format, the paper is divided into two sections: a literature review and an applied section.

2. "The Next Chapter" option:
Review the literature on your topic with an eye to proposing what the next study (or studies) should be to help us understand human behavior better. This paper format is one that is commonly found in upper division and graduate courses, and should be familiar to those of you who wrote an introduction and method section for a research project as part of your research methods course. The difference here is that in Research Methods, the emphasis was more on learning methods; in this course, the emphasis is on identifying the important question that needs to be addressed (which includes reviewing the literature carefully enough to make sure someone hasn't already answered your question). If you can't think of a good research question, don't pick this option. The study you propose must be doable, in theory. However, you can assume you have access to a wide variety of resources (subject pools, computers, confederates, money). It must be clear how your variables are operationalized. Also, it should be clear, either from your introduction or from an additional "expected results" section what you expect to find. It's fine if you have rival hypotheses, but you must be clear about what various outcomes would mean for these hypotheses. You do not have to include all your materials for this paper, but if you are developing a new measure for your proposed study, you should include that.

Some guidelines hold for both papers:
References
You must cite at least seven references, which means you must READ at least seven references (more would be great!). You may cite your text (Aronson), or cite articles "as cited in Aronson," but these don't count in your seven references. At least five of these references must be from one of the following journals:

American Psychologist
Basic and Applied Social Psychology
(only available via interlibrary loan)
British Journal of Social Psychology
Current Directions in Psychological Science
European Journal of Social Psychology
Journal of Applied Social Psychology
Journal of Cross Cultural Research
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
Journal of Personality
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Journal of Social Issues
Motivation and Emotion
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Personal Relationships
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Personality and Social Psychology Review
Psychological Bulletin
Psychological Review
Psychological Science
Sex Roles
Social Behvavior and Personality
Social Cognition

I may be willing to add journals to this list. Please ask if you have a nomination. Articles that are in your reading packet, if they are from these journals, can count. Articles that are cited in your textbook are also acceptable, but in order to count, you must read the original article (not just the summary in your text). I will take a dim view of papers that only contain information found in your text.

Length
I'm expecting papers to be in the 6-10 page range (that's text, not including references or title pages). Longer is fine as long as longer doesn't also mean rambling.

Usual Caveats
Please cite things appropriately, using APA parenthetical citations. If you directly quote, use quotation marks and provide the page number of the quotation in your citation. You should have an APA style reference section at the end of your paper.

It would be a good idea to ask questions about your paper (either see me during office hours or send email), rather than assuming you're on the right track.

Paper Proposal, due Monday April 29, 2002

The goal of this assignment is to get you started thinking and reading on your topic. You should prepare a one page description of the topic you are interested in. Include references you think you might use. If you think you are going with term paper option #1, you should also identify the applied problem. If you think you are going with term paper option #2, you should be starting to think about which new direction you will investigate.