The Paper Guidelines

Psy403 51W Paper Guidelines


As stated in the Syllabus, a major component of the course grade is a final paper. For this assignment, you will write a paper that summarizes the historical contributions of a person or group to the field of psychology. I have provided 30 example topics at the end of this document. Below are some suggestions on how to carry out this paper.

1. Selecting a topic. For the 30 topics provided, you may notice that these topics focus between approximately 1800 and 2000 and involve either a specific historical episode or an event with long lasting consequences in the history of psychology. Select one and work on it. On the other hand, if you prefer to write a topic not covered by these 30 examples, please avoid over-done topics such as Freud’s id/ego/superego, Piaget’s cognitive stages, Jung’s collective unconscious, Pavlov’s classical conditioning, Skinner’s operant behavior, etc. Please communicate with me if you decide to choose your own topic.

2. What to include in the paper;

1) The historical antecedents (philosophical, scientific, and psychological), as well as later events in psychology for which your event served as an antecedent;

2) An in-depth analysis of the individual/school of thought’s perspective;

3) Their contributions to the field of psychology;

4) The contemporary view for the theory proposed by the individual or school of thought;

5) A critical review of the individual/ school of thought;

6) Additionally, discuss potential reasons as to why your topic is (or is not) an important issue in the history of psychology.

7) Important: Your paper should have a thesis or, at a minimum, an overall theme or goal. In other words, you want to do more than just describe a catalog of events; you should develop a point of view, or have a common thread (or small set of threads) that runs through the paper. Ask yourself, what are 1 to 3 issues, main themes, or perspectives that I want the reader to remember after having read the paper? Have those themes shape your paper so that it has cohesion, structure, and direction.

3. Format: The paper should be written in APA-style, Times New Roman 12 point font, double spaced, and include a separate title page, abstract, and a reference page.

4. References: The paper should include at least 5 references excluding the textbook. These references could be primary sources, such as books, chapters, or articles by the primary historical figures and their contemporaries; or peer-reviewed journals or scholarly books. The journal History of Psychology and the American Psychologist are helpful sources. I have checked our school Gee Library website and they have these two journals online (as well as many other psychology related journals).

Please avoid any non-scholarly sources. These sources include textbooks, popular magazines (e.g., Time, U.S. News), encyclopedias, web pages or other electronic sources. You may use our textbook as a source, but this will not account as one of the 5 required references.

5. Direct quotations: You should keep the number of direct quotations to a minimum, no more than four or five. Use them only where the exact wording of the original is important. Citations and direct quotations must be in APA format.

6. Length: Minimum 8 pages and Maximum 15 pages, not including the title page, abstract, and reference page.

7. When to submit the paper: Submit the paper during the Week of 14 (11/23-11/29), with a deadline of 11/29, 11:59PM.

8. Where to submit the paper: Submit your paper online to the Final Paper Assignment Submission Folder, which can be found from the top tool bar Activities – Assignments – Final Paper.


Grading: Papers receiving high scores will:

1. Have a clear and coherent thesis that guides the logic of the paper;

2. Have a representative review of the relevant literature;

3. Have logical development of arguments, clear organization, and linear flow;

4. Consist of scholarly arguments (evidence-based, rather than intuition-, authority-, or opinion-based);

5. Be accurate and complete with respect to the historical event and figure(s);

6. Place issues, methods, interpretations, etc., in the broader historical context;

7. Be written with excellent grammar/syntax, and sentence, paragraph, and section structure;

8. Have professional appearance and APA style (including APA-style citations and references, use of headings, figures & tables if applicable, page numbers)


Examples of Paper Topics:

1. Flourens vs. Gall on Phrenology: Localization of function in the 19th century

2. Color vision theorists: Ladd-Franklin vs. Hering and Helmholtz

3. Fechner’s Psychophysics: psychology as physiological philosophy?

4. Introspective methodologies of the 19th century

5. Wundt’s “creative synthesis”

6. Wundt’s völkerpsychologie

7. Donders’ mental chronometry

8. Phenomenology, intentionality, and the active mind

9. Ebbinghaus and the sense of nonsense material

10. Mental measurement and the nature-nurture controversy

11. James on will and habit

12. The James-Lange theory of emotion

13. Calkins’s self-psychology

14. Hall and the development of developmental psychology

15. Dewey, functionalism and the reflex arc concept

16. Thorndike’s cats and the Spencer-Bain principle

17. Washburn’s Animal Mind vs. Watson’s mindless animals

18. McDougal vs. Watson on instincts

19. Würzburg and the imageless thought controversy

20. L. S. Hollingworth and the psychology of gifted children

21. Sechenov and early Russian psychology

22. Tolman and Hull on intervening variables

23. Lewin’s field theory

24. Gestalt and Behaviorism on transposition

25. Pinel and Dix: the reformation of inpatient treatment of the mentally ill

26. Witmer and the origins of the psychological clinic

27. Charcot vs. Liébeault on hypnotism

28. Horney’s psychoanalysis: basic hostility and basic anxiety

29. Lashley’s search for the engram and the doctrine of equipotentiality

30. Hebb’s cell assemblies and connectionism

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