Fresno Real Life Observation
PSY 41: Life-Span Psychology
Writing Assignment #2: Application Essay (100 points)
Over the course of the class we have discussed a number of different psychological concepts and
theories. For your second writing assignment you will be asked to connect a real life experience or
observation with a concept or theory from lecture and/or your textbook. At some point we have likely
covered a topic that made you think “Oh! I always wondered why that happened” or maybe “Hey!
That’s exactly like my cousin!” or perhaps “Ohhhhhh, that makes so much more sense now!” or
something similar. This assignment is asking you to tell me about that revelation and apply what you
have learned to your personal experience.
Your writing assignment (not an essay) should be organized into three sections, as follows:
1) Section 1 (Personal Experience): A brief description of a personal experience or
observation that is related to a psychological concept/theory. You will write this
section as if you were telling a friend a story about something that happened to you
personally, or something that you directly observed.
a. For example, you could describe your own experiences with something
like attachment, parenting styles, school experiences, grieving, etc.
or an observation of someone else’s experiences (parents, children,
siblings, friends, romantic partners, etc.)
b. This section should only include your experience/observation, do not
include any of the Psychology.
c. This section is worth 30 points. The most common way that people
miss points here is by not giving enough detail or information about
their experiences or observations.
2) Section 2 (Psychology Mini-Report): A brief explanation of the theory, research or
psychological principle connected to your experience/observation described in Section
1. Write this section as though you were explaining a concept to a friend who had never
heard of it before (which means define and describe words like ‘attachment’ or
‘temperament’). Think of this section as a “mini-report” on your psychological
a. For example: Adult Attachment, Parenting Styles, Piaget, Adolescent
Egocentrism, Erickson, etc. (Do NOT pick something too broad/vague)
b. This section requires at least one citation (your textbook is likely the
easiest/best option). If you would like to include additional citations
from outside sources, you are more than welcome to (but make sure
they are scientific sources).
c. This section should only include a description of the psychological
principle. Do not include information about your experience here (that
is what Section 1 is for) or relate it to your experience (that is what
Section 3 is for).
d. This section is worth 30 points. Again, think of this as a “mini-report” on
your topic. It does not have to be exhaustive, but should be detailed
enough that someone who has never heard of this concept will have a
basic understanding after reading your section. The most common
reason for people to miss points on this section is because they are
missing information or have provided inaccurate (or unscientific)
statements. Additionally, you should be identifying something specific
to discuss. Topics like “Memory” or “Puberty” or “Adolescence” are too
broad for this assignment.
3) Section 3 (Application): This will be a combination of the first two sections. You will
apply the Psychology to your personal experience and discuss/evaluate how well the
research or theory applies to and explains your experience/observation.
a. For example, if your topic was Parenting Styles and in section 1 you
were telling me about your own parents and how they have treated and
interacted with you, and in section 2 you told me about Baumrinds 4
parenting styles, here you would explicitly state what you think each of
your parents parenting styles would be. You would then draw
connections between your personal experiences and the psychology
you reported. If you think your Mom is an Authoritative parent… why
do you think that? Examples are excellent here.
b. Remember that in class we always discuss what happens on average,
and there are always individual differences. So your experience may be
quite different than the average experience. Or, you may have thought
“Oh my goodness, that is exactly how it was!” This section asks you to
describe what matched up, and what did not. It may be helpful for you
to include questions or thoughts that this example has raised for you.
c. This section is worth 30 points. You will need to connect the first two
sections and give enough details and examples to demonstrate you
have thought this through and have applied what you learned
appropriately. The most common way people miss points here is by not
being complete or highlighting the connections. Additionally,
sometimes the story that was told in Part 1 does not match the
Psychology discussed in Part 2, which makes this section almost
impossible to complete appropriately. So be sure your personal story
connects to the psychology.
4) Organization/Format/Misc.: This will be worth 10 points. This component includes
things like grammar, spelling and formatting. Your assignment *MUST* follow the
format as outlined above (3 individual sections). If you do not follow the proper format
for this assignment, you will automatically receive a 0/10 for this component. So make
sure you understand the requirements and adhere to the guidelines. As always, if you
have any questions please feel free to ask for clarification!
5) Additional Information:
a. Assignment must be typed and double-spaced.
b. Assignment will be approximately 2 to 5 pages in length, although these are not
hard limits. I think it would be difficult to adequately address the prompt in less
than two pages, but if you are a concise writer then that is acceptable. If you
have a more in-depth story and it goes over 5 pages, that’s ok too! Take the
space you need to adequately address the prompt. However, on average,
student papers for this prompt are approximately 2 to 5 pages long.
c. NO QUOTES. Quotes are not allowed, instead paraphrase information into your
own words. This primarily applies to the Psychology portions of your paper. If
you are giving a quote about something your Mom said for example, that is
perfectly fine. If you are copy-pasting the description of Parenting Styles from
the textbook… that is not acceptable and an automatic zero for that section.
d. This is not an essay. You do not need (nor should you have) an introduction and
a conclusion, or a cover page, etc. Instead, follow the formatting as indicated in
the prompt with three separate and distinct sections.
e. Be very mindful of plagiarism. If any part of your paper is plagiarized, that will
be an automatic zero for the entire assignment, with no opportunity to redo or
resubmit for a better grade.
f. You are responsible for your assignment. If the file that is uploaded to Canvas is
corrupted, that is your responsibility to fix before the deadline. If the file that is
uploaded to Canvas is missing pages, that is your responsibility. If the file that is
uploaded to Canvas is the wrong paper, that is your responsibility. You should
*always* double-check your submitted file to make sure it looks the way that
you want it to (and that it is the correct file). I can only grade what is uploaded
and submitted, so make sure whatever you submit is exactly what you want.
g. As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask!
6) Helpful Resources:
a. The last two pages of this prompt is an example of the basic format I am
expecting of you, as well as a broader description of what I am expecting in each
b. I have posted a video on Canvas of me going through the basics of this
assignment, I highly recommend that you watch it.
c. I have posted a sample paper on Canvas from a previous student who did an
excellent job to give you an idea of what I am looking for. Do not just take the
basic information in that sample and swap out a few names/examples for your
own paper. That would be plagiarism and would earn an automatic zero.
d. To repeat myself one last time, don’t hesitate to ask questions!
PSY 41: Semester/Year
[TITLE OF PAPER]
Section 1: Personal Experience
Your first section is simply you telling me a story. It can be about a personal experience
(probably easier) or it can be about an observation you may have made of someone else (friends, family,
partner, etc.). For this section, you do not need (and should not) talk about Psychology, instead simply
tell me a story as though you were telling a friend about your experience. This section can vary greatly
in length, depending on how much detail you give (give as much as you like, but make sure you give
enough detail that I have a good understanding of what you experienced/felt/observed).
Section 2: Psychology Mini-Report
Your second section is basically a “mini-report” on a psychological concept or theory. If you
believe your observation in section 1 relates to Parenting Styles, then in section 2 you would give me a
mini-report about Parenting Styles. What is a Parenting Styles? What are the different styles that we
have noted? Give descriptions of each including expected outcomes, etc. If you think your observation
in section 1 relates to Adult Attachment, then you would want to tell me about what attachment is, how
it is measured, what types of attachment there are, what they might lead to, etc. This section can also
vary in length, depending on which concept/theory you believe relates to your experience. This does
not have to be an exhaustive or comprehensive report, it’s a “mini” report. But make sure that you give
enough information that someone who has never heard of it before would be able to understand the
basics. You need to give at least one scientific citation in this section (your textbook is probably the
easiest/best source for you to use). I will also note that the concept you pick should be fairly specific.
Topics like “Infancy” or “Puberty” or “Attention” are far, far too broad and are poor choices.
Section 3: Application
For the final section you will be combining the first two sections. You will interpret your
experienced based on the psychological concept/theory. For example, if you are using Parenting Styles,
you will want to identify what the parenting style of both of your parents would be. You could have a
paragraph dedicated to your Mom: what parenting style do you think that she is? What leads you to
believe that? What aspects of that parenting style has your Mom demonstrated in your life? Examples
are going to be key here. Then you would have a separate paragraph for your Dad answering the same
questions. Even if you think they have the same style, you should have them separated with their own
unique connections. If you are doing something like Adult Attachment, what attachment style do you
think that you have? Why? What experiences that you discussed in section 1 connect to the
information you presented in section 2? Etc.
For some concepts/theories your experience may not match up perfectly. That’s totally fine! It
can be just as interesting to note where things differ as when things match up (include examples of both
if possible). As with the previous two sections, this section will vary in length depending on what you
choose to discuss. Some may be quite long and some may be relatively short. As with the other
sections, do not worry about the length of your paper overall, instead focus on the content. Make sure
you are adequately addressing the prompts and giving enough detail (and examples!) to make it clear
what you are presenting.
You need to let me know where you are getting your information from. You are only required to
have one source, and as I said previously your textbook is likely the best option for you. However, you
are more than welcome to choose other sources, as long as they are scientific. Wikipedia does not
count. Bob’s Blog on Parenting does not count. Your Grandmother does not count. If you have any
questions as to whether or not a source is scientific, please feel free to show it to me and I can let you
know for sure if it is acceptable or not.
I do not require any specific formatting for this assignment, but you SHOULD make it clear
where your information is coming from with an in-text citation (section 2) and please include a
reference list at the end of the paper. Anything you cite should be references and anything you
reference should be cited.