Practice Test 1: Answers and Explanations
Part II: Practice Test 1
MULTIPLE-CHOICE SECTION: ANSWERS AND EXPLANATIONS
Note: The explanations in this section make use of the smart-tester strategies introduced in Part IV. Please refer to this page first in order to make the most of this section.
Understand the Question/Key Words: Here we’re asked to identify an example of habituation—the process whereby a stimulus has less effect after repeated or continuous exposure. Predict the Answer: Look for the scenario in which somebody is less affected by something because she gets used to it. Choice (A) simply states that Ilene wore high heels once and found them uncomfortable (eliminate (A)). Choice (B) states that Ilene can only stand wearing high heels for a few hours, suggesting that there is no habituation (eliminate (B) too). Choice (C) states that Ilene wore heels for the first time two weeks ago and now wears them every day. Who cares? There’s no information about discomfort or her response to it. This trick answer choice describes the development of a “habit” in the ordinary sense of the word, not “habituation” as a technical term (eliminate (C)). Similarly, (D) tell us that Ilene forces herself to wear heels because they’re fashionable, even though they hurt. There’s nothing to suggest that she has habituated to the discomfort. Choice (E) is exactly what we need here. When Ilene wears heels they only hurt for the first few minutes (because she gets used to them).
Understand the Question/Key Words: This is a straightforward question testing your knowledge of major depressive disorder. Since it’s a “NOT” question, all the wrong answers will be symptoms of severe depression. Predict the Answer: Don’t be afraid to use common sense here. Mania, a symptom of bipolar disorder, obviously doesn’t fit in with the rest of the depressive symptoms listed ((B) is correct).
Understand the Question/Key Words: Joe’s therapy deals with dreams, his early childhood, and motivations and feelings he’s not aware of (i.e., “unconscious”). Yep—gotta be Freud! These are the hallmarks of psychodynamic (Freudian-based) therapy and are not generally associated with any of the other three schools of thought listed ((A), (C), and (D) can be eliminated). Choice (E) is wrong because there’s nothing to suggest that Joe’s therapist is eclectic (i.e., that he or she borrows different techniques from various schools of thought). Every aspect of the therapy mentioned is associated with psychodynamic theory; (B) is correct.
Understand the Question/Key Words: Highest standard deviation means that the scores are spread out from the mean (arithmetic average) more than in the other choices. Predict the Answer: Look for the group of numbers with the widest range. Here that would clearly be (D).
Understand the Question/Key Words: Circle a judge orders. Students often get these answer choices confused. Remember that “reinforcement” always means you’re trying to increase behavior that you want to see more of, while “punishment” always means that you’re trying to decrease behavior that you want to eliminate. You can get rid of (A) and (D) on this basis; the judge obviously doesn’t want Jill to commit more crimes. Don’t get confused by the words “positive” and “negative” in this context: they don’t mean good or bad. “Positive punishment” simply means that you’re administering an unpleasant or undesirable stimulus to the subject to decrease the unwanted behavior, while “negative punishment” means that you’re removing a pleasant or desirable stimulus in order to do so. If the judge had fined Jill, thereby taking away her money (which everybody likes!), that would be an instance of negative punishment. Since she’s being forced to pick up nasty garbage on the road instead, the punishment is “positive” ((B) is wrong and (E) is correct). Choice (C), shaping, refers to the process of rewarding successive approximation to a target goal. If Jill were having difficulty meeting her daily garbage quota, so her supervisor praised her every time she picked up a piece of garbage, emptied her bucket properly, etc., that would be considered shaping.
Understand the Question/Key Words: circle the words help and witness. Predict the Answer: Based on the key words, we’re dealing with the bystander effect. Research has repeatedly shown that people are more likely to render assistance to a stranger when they are the only ones present. The more people around at the time, the greater the tendency to assume somebody else will intervene (i.e., there is diffusion of responsibility; (B) is correct). If you didn’t know this information, you can still use POE to narrow it down. Choice (A) defies common sense (if nobody is there, nobody can help!). Clever analysis can get rid of (C) and (D) as well. A relevant theory would probably make one of two predictions: it’s better to have fewer people present, or it’s better to have more people present. For exactly two or three people to be the ideal scenario would seem less likely ((C) and (D) can be eliminated). Now you have it narrowed down to two. Remember that well-known social psychological theories are, if not always counterintuitive, at least interesting or significant in some way. If the likelihood of being helped increased as the number of people available to help increased (which would make perfect sense), then why even call it an “effect”? Accordingly, (B) would be a better guess than (E) here.
Understand the Question/Key Words: The term “collective unconscious,” which refers to images and beliefs that all humans share, is associated with Carl Jung ((B) is correct). Freud (who taught Jung) developed the idea of the unconscious and Jung expanded on it in this way ((A) is wrong). Pavlov, (D), and Skinner, (C), are both known for their respective seminal experiments in behaviorism (so neither dealt with the realm of the unconscious). William James, (E), is known as the father of American psychology.
Understand the Question/Key Words: If you didn’t know how various drugs affect the pupils, the phrase “extremely lethargic” should be enough to get you through this question. Which drugs make you extremely lethargic? Predict the Answer: Opiates like heroin (certainly not stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine!). Eliminate (A) and (D). Serotonergic hallucinogens like LSD may put some people into a bit of a daze as they react to nonexistent stimuli, but they don’t make you extremely tired ((C) is out). Neither does ecstasy, which acts as both a stimulant and a hallucinogen ((E) is out as well). All the drugs on this list except heroin actually cause mydriasis (dilation of the pupils), while opiates cause miosis (constriction of the pupils).
Understand the Question/Key Words: Here you’re being asked to anticipate which words in a list people will be more likely to recall. The answer choices all deal with serial position effects: the “primacy effect” (we’re more likely to remember words at the beginning of a list) and the “recency effect” (we’re more likely to remember words at the end of a list). Predict the Answer: The words at the beginning and end of the list are more likely, on average, to be recalled ((C) is the correct answer). The other choices are all inconsistent with serial position effects; (E) is particularly unlikely, as it seems to deny that order has any effect whatsoever on recall.
Understand the Question/Key Words: Robert is hightailing it away from an angry bear and is undoubtedly scared out of his wits. Predict the Answer: The “fight or flight” response! You can eliminate (B) and (E) through common sense and basic knowledge; respiration and adrenaline increase when we are extremely frightened. As for the remaining choices, remember this idea: in a crisis, the nervous system that is “sympathetic” responds (it’s a bit corny, but it works; eliminate (C)). The parasympathetic nervous system is the one that helps return the body to homeostasis after the emergency is over (so (A) is wrong and (D) must be the answer). Epinephrine is just another name for adrenaline, which is triggered during flight or flight.
Understand the Question/Key Words: Here you’re being asked what type of reward/reinforcement schedule is being used. Linda rewards her employees every January, and there’s no mention of output or required behavior on the part of the employees. Predict the Answer: A fixed-interval schedule, (A). If you forgot your reinforcement schedules, you can use POE here. Since there’s no variation in this scenario (reward always comes in January), you can eliminate any choice beginning with the word “variable”—(B) and (E). Since time is the factor that determines reinforcement here, not output, “interval” is a better bet than “ratio” ((D) is out and (A) is correct). There is no such thing as a fixed-variable schedule, (C), and, since nothing varies in this scenario and “interval” indicates time, (A) is clearly the better choice for a guess.
Understand the Question/Key Words: Sue is shy and avoids contact with others for fear of rejection. Predict the Answer: If you’re up on the diagnostic categories, you’ll recognize these signs of an avoidant personality disorder, (E). If you didn’t know the term, the word “avoids” in the question should highlight (E) as a strong possibility. Beware, however of (A)—it’s a trap! Being antisocial in DSM-5 terms does not mean that you avoid people; it means you basically have no regard for societal rules. Many antisocial people love the company of other people (all the better to manipulate and abuse them!). If you’re familiar with the other disorders on the list, you can use POE to narrow down the choices here. Choice (B) can easily be eliminated; we all know that narcissistic means self-centered and grandiose. Borderline individuals are unstable and impulsive (with behavior sometimes “bordering” on the psychotic). Even if you didn’t know that, the word “borderline” doesn’t seem to fit here (on the border between what and what?)—so you can eliminate (C). Schizotypal individuals (D) display oddities in speech or behavior that are less extreme than those seen in full-blown schizophrenia.
Understand the Question/Key Words: Here you’re being asked which of Erikson’s stages applies to teenagers. Predict the Answer: You should recall that identity vs. role confusion is the stage that deals with adolescent developmental struggles. If you forgot that, common sense and POE can narrow it down. “Trust” should have been achieved way before age 17 (as an infant, according to Erikson)—eliminate (A). “Stagnation” and “integrity” sound like issues that much older people would be dealing with, not a seventeen-year-old—eliminate (D) and (E). That leaves only (B) and (C). Teenagers do try to achieve “autonomy,” but so do younger kids (although the milestones are obviously different). The key challenge during adolescence is to develop an identity and find your way in the world, so (C) is a better choice than (B).
Understand the Question/Key Words: Jack had a bunch of interesting history professors, so he got the idea that they were all fun and entertaining (until Professor Smith bored him to tears and his changed this perception). You should be looking for the term that involves changing your mind to fit new experiences: that would be accommodation, (C)! Every time Jack perceived a history teacher to be a total blast, this idea was assimilated into his general conceptual framework (or “schema”) about history teachers. So a schema in which history teachers are entertaining was the product of assimilation ((D) and (B) are wrong). In contrast, accommodation is the process whereby our existing ideas about the world are changed in order to incorporate new information. Jack’s conclusion that not all history teachers are in fact entertaining, based on his experience with Professor Smith, was the result of accommodation ((C) is correct). If you didn’t recall these psychological terms, simply remembering that “assimilate” means “to absorb” and “accommodate” means “to adapt” would help you here. Cognitive dissonance refers to the mental tension or discomfort that we experience when we hold inconsistent beliefs or when our beliefs are inconsistent with our behavior. Jack would have experienced dissonance when his ideas about how boring Professor Smith was conflicted with his established schema about history teachers ((A) is wrong). An archetype, (E), is an image or idea that all human beings have in common, so this term doesn’t apply here.
Be sure to know the parts of the brain and their functions! Jane’s anterograde amnesia would be due to an injury to the hippocampus, which is responsible for forming new memories ((A) is correct). The hypothalamus, (B), largely regulates the pituitary gland and endocrine activity. The occipital lobe, (C), is responsible for vision. The temporal lobe, (D), is associated with auditory processing. The medulla, (E), controls basic functions such as breathing, heart rate, swallowing, etc.
Understand the Question/Key Words: “Mirroring” is the therapeutic technique most closely associated with client-centered (“Rogerian”) therapy: the therapist repeats or paraphrases what the client says, focusing on the emotions involved. Predict the Answer: The only technique that resembles mirroring here is (E). Mirroring doesn’t involve challenging the client’s stated motivations or telling him that he acts like his father (a psychodynamic therapist would be more likely to go that route; eliminate (A) and (D)). Mirroring doesn’t involve giving and withholding praise according to the client’s behavior (this is more of a behavioral technique; eliminate (C)). Choice (B) is the trap answer here: while Rogerian therapists are very empathic and caring, mirroring, as a technique, involves more than empathy. Choice (E) is correct.
Understand the Question/Key Words: circle an IQ of 65. Predict the Answer: His IQ places Louis in the mildly disabled range, and his basic level of functioning is consistent with this diagnosis. While the DSM-5 places more emphasis on overall level of functioning than did previous versions of the manual (as opposed to simply using the IQ to categorize people), here the IQ and the functioning level both point to a mild disability. Louis is somewhat independent in that he can hold down a simple job with some help, make small purchases, etc. However, he still requires assistance from family to manage his personal financial matters and make important decisions ((B) is correct).
Understand the Question/Key Words: The gist of the just-world hypothesis is that we all generally deserve what happens to us. Predict the Answer: Look for the scenario in which people believe that somebody basically got what was coming to him or her. Choices (B) and (E) contradict the just-world hypothesis: in both cases a person was “punished” and others consider what happened unfair ((B) and (E) are out). In (A), an unqualified person was elected class president, but there’s no indication of whether people believed she deserved it or not. Choice (A) actually illustrates the “halo effect”: people who are viewed as having positive qualities, especially beauty, are viewed as having unrelated positive qualities (such as the ability to be a good class president; (A) is out). Choice (C) is simply a case of conformity: Phil picks on another kid because his peers are doing it (who deserves what is never addressed; (C) is out). Choice (D) is the answer: Roy is clearly victimized, but his community blames him because he was “asking for it.”
Understand the Question/Key Words: This question concerns dissonance theory and tells us the source of Zachary’s cognitive dissonance: he loves sugary carbonated drinks, but has just acquired some pesky knowledge that they’re bad for his health. Keep in mind that this is a “LEAST” question, so we’re looking for a response that will NOT reduce Zachary’s dissonance. Predict the Answer: Remember that cognitive discomfort occurs when our behaviors conflict, our beliefs conflict, or our behaviors conflict with our beliefs. In order to reduce the dissonance, we either change our behavior, change our beliefs, or reduce the importance of the beliefs that are causing the dissonance. Choice (B) has Zachary eliminating these drinks from his diet, which would also eliminate the tension, so (B) is out. Choice (A) has him substantially reducing his intake of these drinks, which would at least reduce the tension (eliminate (A) too). Choice (C) has him questioning the accuracy of the troublesome information, which would reduce dissonance as well (if whoever wrote the article doesn’t know what he’s talking about, then who cares?). Choice (D) has Zachary downplaying the importance of good health by adopting a “YOLO” attitude; this would relieve the tension as well. Choice (E), however, has him accepting the article’s conclusions, but not changing his sugary-carbonated-beverage-drinking behavior in any way ((E) is correct).
Understand the Question/Key Words: When Jennifer was in a very deep sleep, which brain waves were dominant in her brain? Predict the Answer: The deep sleep that occurs during stages 3 and 4 is dominated by slow, high-amplitude delta waves (D). Beta and alpha waves are associated with waking states and REM sleep ((A), (C), and (E) are wrong). Theta waves dominate the lighter sleep that occurs in stages 1 and 2, and also occur during REM sleep ((B) is wrong as well).
Understand the Question/Key Words: Watson (quite unethically!) used classical conditioning techniques to get Little Albert to fear white rats, which the child had no problem with before. Predict the Answer: Watson paired a loud noise (the unconditioned stimulus) with the white rat (a neutral stimulus that became the conditioned stimulus). Albert’s unconditioned response to the loud noise was fear, so, when the noise was paired with the rat, the conditioned response was fear of the rat. If you weren’t sure of these terms, you could have used POE effectively. Fear is a response, not a stimulus (so eliminate (B) and (C)). Primary punisher is an operant conditioning term and inapplicable here (eliminate (E)). Now you have to choose between (A) and (D). If you remember that Albert didn’t initially fear the rat, you know that this fear response was conditioned and that (D) must be the correct answer.
Understand the Question/Key Words: This scenario involves a dancer doing some routine moves who is then joined by other dancers performing the same moves. You are asked how the presence of the others should affect the first dancer’s performance. Predict the Answer: This question is testing your knowledge of social facilitation (the phenomenon whereby individuals engaged in simple tasks, or ones with which they are very familiar, perform better when in the presence of others ((A) is correct). However, if you didn’t remember that concept but remembered other social psychological theories, you could still use POE. Choice (C) is the trap answer here. Social loafing occurs when individuals working in a group exert less effort than if working alone because there is a diffusion of responsibility among the group members (think “tug of war”). This doesn’t apply here because social loafing occurs when people are working in a concerted effort to complete a task or reach a common goal (not when working on their own tasks or goals in a group setting). The bystander effect (B) may sound relevant but is inapplicable here: it deals with the likelihood of receiving assistance in an emergency. The mere-exposure effect, (E), is also inapplicable: it refers to the tendency to rate stimuli more positively after you’ve been exposed to them.
Understand the Question/Key Words: You’re being asked to identify an example of chunking: a method of aiding short-term memory by grouping bits of information into “chunks.” Predict the Answer: Look for the situation wherein somebody is trying to remember something better in the short term by dividing information into groups. Choice (A) fits the bill perfectly; the way we recite phone numbers (3-3-4) helps us remember them and is a classic example of chunking. Choice (B) involves dividing information into groups in that different academic subjects are studied on different days, but this is not a short-term memory process. Choice (C), saying a license plate number over and over, involves simple repetition; the question does not indicate that any numbers or letters were divided into groups. Choice (D), triggering olfactory memory with a scent, involves retrieving long-term memories—not aiding short-term memory. Choice (E), teaching information by setting it to music, is a different mnemonic device.
Understand the Question/Key Words: We’re being asked to identify which Gestalt principle applies to a situation wherein tomatoes are grouped with apples and oranges, rather than together with carrots and celery. Predict the Answer: Ask yourself why Margaret would put tomatoes with apples and oranges. While it is true that all three are fruits, the answer choices have nothing to do with such a logical categorical reason. But, tomatoes, apples, and oranges are all round, and thus may appear similar to Margaret. So, the Gestalt principle of similarity, (B), in which similar items are grouped together, is the correct answer. Choice (A), proximity, is wrong because the tomatoes were not already found next to the apples and oranges. Figure and ground refers to the tendency to view objects as either in the background or the foreground ((C) is wrong). Closure, (D), refers to the tendency to perceive whole objects despite a break in the patter. Continuity, (E), refers to the tendency to perceive lines as continuous and uninterrupted.
Understand the Question/Key Words: This question is testing your knowledge of statistics terminology; it’s asking what we call the mistake we make when we wrongly conclude that our findings are statistically significant. Predict the Answer: Ideally you’ll remember that this mistake is called a Type I error. If you forgot that bit of information, you could use POE effectively here. Regression toward the mean, (C), is a statistical phenomenon (not an error) whereby scores tend to average out. Similarly, the null hypothesis, (A), is not an error but rather a hypothesis (hence, the name!). It hypothesizes that the findings are merely due to chance and are not statistically significant. A random error, (D), is an error that is unexplained and essentially random (hence, the name!); this wouldn’t seem to make sense here either. The most appealing wrong choice would be a type 2 error, (E), which involves making the opposite mistake (wrongly concluding that your findings are NOT statistically significant). Choice (B) is correct.
Understand the Question/Key Words: This question is simply testing your knowledge of the occipital lobe (which controls visual processing). Predict the Answer: You could use POE to eliminate the other choices if you know the various lobe functions. The frontal lobe largely controls planning, goal-setting, and impulse inhibition ((A) and (C)). Hearing and language processing (B) are controlled by the temporal lobe. Pain recognition (D) is controlled by the parietal lobe. Choice (E) is correct.
Understand the Question/Key Words: This scenario involves a woman who doesn’t really study for a medical school entrance exam because she thinks that, if she was meant to become a doctor, she would do well on the test and it would all work out. Predict the Answer: You should realize that this woman seems to have an external locus of control, (A); she believes that what happens to her is largely controlled by outside forces. Learned helplessness, (B), is a deceptively attractive answer here because Kerri is sort of acting like she can’t control what happens to her. However, there’s no evidence that she believes that she will fail; she may very well think the universe, so to speak, will be kind to her. An internal locus of control, (C), is simply the opposite phenomenon (i.e., we believe that we ourselves control what happens to us). A self-serving bias, (D), involves taking credit for our own successes but blaming our failures on situational factors; this couldn’t be the answer because Kerri hasn’t succeeded or failed at anything yet. Choice (E) is wrong because we have no evidence to suggest that Kerri has low self-esteem.
Understand the Question/Key Words: This question presents the basics of an experiment and asks you to identify the independent variable (the variable that the experimenter changes in order to measure its effect on the dependent variable). Predict the Answer: Choose the variable that the researcher intentionally manipulates (not the one that is measured). Here that would be the amount of praise given to each of the two groups ((D) is correct). The test scores, (A), is the dependent variable.
Understand the Question/Key Words: This is a straightforward question for which you need to understand the concept of percentile rank. Predict the Answer: If Fred scored in the 68% percentile on the entrance exam, that means that he scored better than 68% of the people who took that exam ((C) is correct).
Understand the Question/Key Words: The question asks how far Carol appears to have progressed in terms of Kohlberg’s stages of moral development. Predict the Answer: Carol views her behavior as bad if other people view it as bad, feeling shame and guilt when others criticize her. She is clearly at the “conventional” level of morality. More specifically, she is probably in stage 3 (the “good boy/girl” stage) in which morality is determined by others’ approval ((C) is correct). If you didn’t remember Kohlberg so well, you can use POE to eliminate some of the choices. Carol seems to be past the stage 1: preconventional level of moral development in which good = avoidance of punishment (this is common among very young children). Carol genuinely feels guilty and ashamed because she believes she did something wrong; she’s not simply conforming in order to escape some punishment meted out by an authority figure (eliminate (A) and (E)). Stage 6: universal ethical principles (D) wouldn’t seem to fit here either. Carol sees an action as “wrong” because others see it that way, not because it violates some higher universal moral code that she’s developed (as the name would seem to imply). “Integrity vs. despair” (B) is one of Erikson’s developmental stages and is inapplicable here.
Understand the Question/Key Words: The key words here are “criminal with no regard for others’ rights” and “Freudian theory.” Predict the Answer: Ask yourself which Freudian concept deals basically with the conscience? That would have to be the superego, (C), which is correct here. The id, (A), refers to our primal, pleasure-seeking impulses, and the ego, (B), is the part of our psyche that mediates between the outside world, the demands of the id, and the dictates of the superego. The Oedipal complex, (D), is an early childhood conflict involving the same-sex parent. A fixation, (E), occurs when a child fails to successfully negotiate a particular psychosexual stage and gets psychologically “stuck,” unable to move on.
Understand the Question/Key Words: This question is asking you which substance causes delirium tremens (the DT’s) when you suddenly stop taking it. Predict the Answer: As the name might suggest, delirium tremens is a dangerous syndrome that can cause disorientation, hallucinations, irregular heart beat, etc. It is associated with withdrawal from alcohol ((E) is correct).
Understand the Question/Key Words: Here you simply need to know what a morpheme is. Predict the Answer: Since a morpheme is the smallest unit of meaning in language, dissect the word into the smallest units that convey linguistic meaning and then count how many you have. Here we have “happi” (“happy”)—an adjective meaning “glad.” Further, the prefix “un” means “not” and the suffix “ness” indicates state or quality, so altogether we have three morphemes ((D) is correct).
Understand the Question/Key Words: Here you need to know what aphasia is. Predict the Answer: Aphasia involves the loss of expressive or receptive language skills, so look for the scenario that involves language impairment of some sort (it’s clearly choice E). If you didn’t remember what aphasia is, knowing some other terms would help you with POE here. The inability to form new memories is anterograde amnesia (eliminate (C)) and the inability to recognize faces is prosopagnosia (eliminate (B)). Common sense would probably allow you to eliminate (D) here as well (a digestive disorder resulting from a blow to the head would seem unlikely).
Understand the Question/Key Words: This question asks about Albert Bandura and aggressive behavior. Predict the Answer: You should definitely be thinking “Bobo doll experiment: social learning”! Find the scenario that suggests that Dennis is aggressive because he observes others (especially significant adults) behaving aggressively ((D) is the answer). For this type of question, you’re at a disadvantage if you don’t recognize the name. You would need to understand that the other theories of aggression are behavioral, (A), genetic, (B), psychoanalytic, (C), and evolutionary, (E) and take your best guess.
Understand the Question/Key Words: This question tests your ability to distinguish secondary drives from primary ones in accordance with drive-reduction theory. Predict the Answer: Primary drives are innate biological needs such as sleep (A), a normal body temperature ((B) and (E)), and food (D). Secondary drives are the product of conditioning; they are desirable only because they are associated with primary drives (e.g., money; (C) is correct).
Understand the Question/Key Words: This is a straightforward test of your knowledge of eye structure and function. Be sure to read carefully and note that the question asks specifically about the cells that sense light. Predict the Answer: Light-sensing cells, or “photoreceptors,” are located in the retina ((B) is correct). Light enters the eye through the cornea, (D), and travels through the pupil, (A). The iris, (E), controls the amount of light that enters the eye. The lens, (C), located behind the iris, focuses light onto the retina.
Understand the Question/Key Words: The question discusses a patient with negative self-views and asks you to identify what a therapist trained in REBT (which focuses on getting rid of irrational beliefs) might do. Predict the Answer: Look for the scenario that involves eliminating self-defeating cognitions ((E) is the only response that fits). Choice (A) is a client-centered technique, (B) and (D) are psychodynamic, and (C) is classic behaviorism.
Understand the Question/Key Words: Here you’re asked to identify an example of the door-in-the-face technique: someone makes a large or unreasonable request, which is refused, then makes a smaller or more reasonable request, which is more likely to be granted because it fares well in the comparison. Predict the Answer: Choose the scenario wherein a second, comparatively reasonable request is granted. Choice (A) is actually an example of the foot-in-the-door technique: one makes a small request, which is granted, then makes a larger one, which is more likely to be granted because a precedent has been established. Choice (B) is simply positive reinforcement and (C) is simply negative reinforcement (there are no second requests involved). Choice (D) fits perfectly here: the request to leave only thirty minutes early seems much more reasonable in light of the previous request. Choice (E) doesn’t exemplify any particular psychological phenomenon—just a mean boss.
Understand the Question/Key Words: Here you need to understand the concept of a projective test in order to identify one. Predict the Answer: Ideally you’ll remember (or at least guess) that a “projective” test entails presenting the subject with ambiguous stimuli. Then he or she projects emotions, conflicts, etc. onto the situation for the clinician to interpret. So pick whichever assessment tool has ambiguous elements. Choice (A) is a straightforward IQ test, so get rid of it. The Rorschach, (B), is the quintessential projective test, involving projection of one’s psyche onto ambiguous inkblots (definitely keep (B)). The MMPI is a personality assessment, but it involves answering true/false questions; there’s nothing ambiguous about it and there’s no projection involved (get rid of (C) too). Choices (D) and (E) can be eliminated (even if you don’t know what a projective test is) because neither is a “test” per se: the DSM-5 is a diagnostic manual and an intake interview simply gathers information about the client. Choice (B) is the answer.
Understand the Question/Key Words: Here we have a situation wherein someone is using an object in an unusual way and we’re asked what the person has overcome by doing so. Predict the Answer: What tendency would prevent someone from using an object in a novel way? Functional fixedness! ((D) is correct). Conformity, (A), is an appealing wrong choice here in that Julie’s use of the wine bottle is atypical. However, conformity deals more with social pressure to behave and think as others do with respect to significant matters; there’s no evidence that others would disapprove of her unusual vase. The fundamental attribution error, (B), deals with others’ behavior and the mere exposure effect, (C), deals with the tendency to like what is familiar. Learned helplessness, (E), deals with the effects of repeated failure and is also inapplicable.
Understand the Question/Key Words: This question asks you to identify an example of conversion disorder (FNSD). Predict the Answer: Look for the situation wherein somebody has a neurological symptom, such as paralysis or loss of one of the senses, with no medical explanation or other psychological disorder that could account for this ((C) fits perfectly). The remaining choices are unrelated psychological symptoms.
Understand the Question/Key Words: Here you’ll need to choose the statement that reflects what a child who has mastered conservation (according to Piaget) would understand. Predict the Answer: Mastering conservation means that the child grasps that a physical quantity remains the same even though its physical appearance can change ((D) is clearly correct). Choices (A) and (C), respectively, describe the Piagetian ideas of object permanence and symbolic thinking. Choice (B) describes one of Kohlberg’s moral stages and choice (E) alludes to Freudian psychosexual development.
Understand the Question/Key Words: To answer this question correctly you’ll need to know (or guess) what the halo effect is in order to identify an example. Predict the Answer: Choose the scenario in which a positive assessment of Louise in one area generalizes to a (perhaps unwarranted) positive assessment of her in another unrelated area. Choice (C) is the only scenario that fits. Just because Louise has a stellar GPA doesn’t mean that she’ll be the best cheerleader, as different skill sets are involved.
Understand the Question/Key Words: Here you’re being asked to pick out a true statement about Wernicke’s area—which is responsible for language comprehension. Predict the Answer: If you didn’t remember that (A) is right on point, ideally you’d be able to use POE here. The most attractive wrong choice would be (C), which deals with speech production, not comprehension (the former is associated with Broca’s area).
Understand the Question/Key Words: Here you’re being asked to identify behavior that is characteristic of Munchausen syndrome by proxy. Noting that the word “proxy” means substitute is important here. Predict the Answer: Look for a case in which somebody, especially a parent, is intentionally making someone in his or her care ill (or greatly exaggerating symptoms of an existing illness) in order to get attention. Choice (A) can be eliminated; Munchausen parents don’t ignore their children (if anything they are overly “attentive”)! Choice (B) is wrong because there’s no “proxy” involved in a suicide. Choices (C) and (D) can be eliminated because they involve abuse in public; people with Munchausen syndrome by proxy act like loving caregivers in front of others and are sure to keep any abuse a secret. Choice (E) makes sense here: contaminating food to keep someone ill is a common pattern seen with this disorder.
Understand the Question/Key Words: Note that this is a “LEAST” question; you’re being asked which ailment biofeedback would be least likely to help. Predict the Answer: Biofeedback is a technique that attempts to control involuntary bodily functions (e.g., breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, etc.) through auditory or visual feedback. With this in mind, look for the medical condition that probably couldn’t be helped in any way by relaxation, lowering your stress levels, etc. Tumors, (C), are much less likely to get better as the result of a relaxation technique than would anxiety, (A), hypertension, (B), headaches, (D), or mild pain, (E). Common sense would suggest that surgery (or another serious medical intervention) would probably be required to get rid of a tumor!
Understand the Question/Key Words: Here you’re being asked to evaluate the truth of various statements about hypnosis. Predict the Answer: Keep in mind that answer choices with extreme language (e.g., none, all, never, etc.) are always suspect. They can be true, but are much harder to support than are moderate statements. Compare (D): “all people are equally susceptible to hypnosis” with (B): “hypnosis has proven beneficial in treating some physical conditions.” It’s hard to argue with the second one because it’s pretty conservative (and it’s the correct answer here). On the other hand, if just ONE person is more susceptible than another to hypnosis, (D) can be disproved. Choices (A) and (C) are completely incorrect (hypnosis does not cause people to violate their moral codes, nor can people be hypnotized against their will). Moreover, post-hypnotic suggestion is often used in therapeutic settings ((E) is wrong as well).
Understand the Question/Key Words: This question asks which research issue would be best suited to a longitudinal study (a design wherein the same subjects are studied over a long period). Predict the Answer: Ask yourself which scenario would require keeping track of the same people for a pretty long time in order to get the data you need. A study about remission rates in institutionalized vs. non-institutionalized schizophrenics would probably require keeping track of the same folks for awhile to see whether they relapsed, etc. ((A) looks pretty good). Choices (B) and (E) need a cross-sectional design: we want to find correlations between and among different factors such as race, divorce, poverty, etc. There’s no need to study the same individuals over a long period to see how those factors are linked (eliminate (B) and (E)). Studying the effects of age and gender on conformity (C) would seem to require some sort of quasi-experimental manipulation: otherwise, what “conformity” could we measure? At any rate, we wouldn’t need years to get our data. Similarly, a drug trial for a new blood pressure medication would require the standard experimental design involving stringent controls. Blood pressure, moreover, can be assessed right away; there’s no need to follow the same subjects over an extended period. Choice (A) is correct.
Understand the Question/Key Words: This question asks approximately what percentage of people have an IQ of 130 or above. Predict the Answer: An IQ of 130 is obviously very high, so you can easily eliminate choices (C), (D), and (E). Understanding that intelligence is normally distributed (picture a bell-shaped curve) will allow you to conclude that 2% (B) is the correct answer. Approximately 95% of the population has an IQ between 70 and 130, with those above 130 falling at the very high end of the distribution (approximately 2.5 % of the population).
Understand the Question/Key Words: Here you’re being asked to describe Cindy’s therapist. The information given indicates that he uses different techniques from various theoretical schools of thought (e.g, Freudian interpretation, behavioral systematic desensitization, medication). Predict the Answer: Clinicians who “borrow” ideas and techniques from different schools of thought are best described as eclectic (D).
Understand the Question/Key Words: This question asks you to identify an example of confirmation bias (the tendency to seek out information that confirms our biases and established beliefs). Predict the Answer: Look for the scenario in which Victor is focusing on facts that support his preconceived notions. Choice (E) is the only answer that fits: Victor believes that drinking is bad for you, so he subscribes to newsletters and podcasts that promote that viewpoint.
Understand the Question/Key Words: Here you’re being asked to evaluate the truth of various statements about hormones and neurotransmitters (keep in mind you’re looking for the one that’s false). Predict the Answer: You’ll need to know your basics for this question (but a bit of common sense will help too). Hormones do NOT transmit faster than neurotransmitters do; the latter typically take only milliseconds, while hormones can take up to days for transmission ((B) is correct). All the remaining statements are true.
Understand the Question/Key Words: Here you’re being asked to identify an example of a test with predictive validity. Predict the Answer: Look for the test that predicts future scores, behavior, etc. with respect to the construct at issue. Choice (A) might seem like it fits because it deals with future scores, but it’s actually just an example of reliability, not validity. Students who take that same test again simply get a very similar score; there’s no indication as to whether that test is accurately measuring what it’s supposed to measure. The test score is only “predicting” a future score on that same test, which could be measuring anything. Choice (B) is an example of face validity; the test appears on the surface to be measuring what it claims to measure. Choice (C) is the classic example and is correct here: a law school entrance exam accurately predicts first-year law school GPA’s. Choice (D) is an example of construct validity. A narcissism scale should measure narcissism—and only narcissism, not a closely related disorder such as sociopathy. Choice (E) is an example of concurrent validity; the test correlates highly with an established test of the same construct (in this case depression).
Understand the Question/Key Words: “Relationship between age and career satisfaction” and “among Americans” are the key phrases here. Predict the Answer: We’re looking for a method whereby we can assess career satisfaction at different ages and then generalize the findings to Americans (who are a very large group!). A case study, (A), wouldn’t make any sense here: it’s an in-depth analysis of a single individual, small group, or event. Naturalistic observation, (B), whereby researchers closely scrutinize behavior in a natural setting, wouldn’t make any sense here either. There’s no ongoing behavior that needs to be observed (and you can only naturistically observe so many people!). Choice (C) might be tempting because a controlled laboratory experiment is usually the preferred research method because it allows you to infer causality, etc. However, an experiment wouldn’t make any sense here either. You can’t randomly assign people to different age groups (or levels of career satisfaction). Moreover, an experiment wouldn’t involve enough subjects to conclude anything about Americans in general. A quasi-experiment, (D), is just an experiment without random assignment and would be equally inappropriate here. Choice (E), a cross-sectional study, would be perfect. This design involves assessing, at a single point in time, similar individuals who differ on a key characteristic (like how Americans of different age groups view their jobs!). These studies often deal with correlations among large samples.
Understand the Question/Key Words: Make sure that you truly understand what this type of complicated and convoluted question is asking before you proceed! You are being asked which variation in the Milgram experiments did NOT lead to a DECREASE in obedience (i.e., all the wrong answer choices will have led to less shocking by the teacher). Predict the Answer: If you recall the experiments, you’ll know (B) is the answer. Allowing an assistant to administer the shocks relieved the teacher of some personal responsibility—and led to a greater willingness to hurt the learner. While research findings aren’t always predictable or consistent with common sense, if you didn’t remember the study you would simply have had to guess here based on reasonable assumptions. A run-down office, (A), diminished the authority of the experimenter, and physically removing the experimenter from the scene, (C), similarly diminished his authoritative presence. The presence of other teachers who refused to shock, (D), emboldened the teacher to also refuse, and moving the learner closer to the teacher, (E), emphasized the suffering of the learner and the personal responsibility of the teacher.
Understand the Question/Key Words: Here you’ll need to know what the normal developmental parameters for walking are. Predict the Answer: Most children walk by 14 or 15 months and 18 months is considered delayed. Choice (C), Jason and Jana only, is the answer. Remember to use POE effectively if you’re not sure. If you know, for example, that one child qualifies as delayed, any older child must also qualify (and any answer choice that excludes the older child must be wrong).
Understand the Question/Key Words: This question is asking how long we can keep information stored in short-term memory. Predict the Answer: Short-term memory lasts approximately 20 to 30 seconds ((B) is correct).
Understand the Question/Key Words: Don’t be fooled by the fact that Layla got a 3 on her test, challenged her score, and then got a 3 again. The scores for this essay test are all over the place and something is clearly wrong. Predict the Answer: Inter-rater reliability means that different people who score the same test will come up with approximately the same score. Given that three graders gave Layla three very different scores, this test may lack this kind of reliability ((D) is correct). You could pretty much have eliminated (A), (B), and (C) right off the bat here: no type of reliability has been established through this information. Choice (E) deals with split-half reliability, which would be more applicable to a multiple-choice exam (the score on one half of an exam should correlate highly with the score on the other half of the exam).
Understand the Question/Key Words: Remember that the key factor that triggers a groupthink process (which is an undesirable phenomenon) is the cohesiveness of the group. Members censor their own dissenting opinions, and those of others, in order to preserve the unity and harmony of the group (which can lead to some pretty bad decisions!). Predict the Answer: The group most likely to fall victim to this phenomenon will be the most close-knit bunch of people. You can eliminate (A) and (B) right off the bat. Are nationwide TV audiences and state voting electorates close-knit groups? Clearly not! Moreover, the “decisions” these groups make are made privately. Are the members of two rival sororities a close-knit group? Nope—they’re just the opposite (eliminate (C)). Are the members of a close-knit extended family a close-knit group? I’m gonna say “yeah” (save (D)). Are a bunch of good Samaritan commuters on a subway a close-knit group? Nope—get rid of (E). Don’t be lured by the fact that the decisions to be made in that last scenario are more urgent and important. The key to groupthink is group cohesiveness, not the critical nature of the situation.
Understand the Question/Key Words: Here you’re being asked to evaluate a scenario in terms of the ultimate attribution error (which deals with situational vs dispositional attributions regarding “in” and “out” groups). You should have noticed that the fraternities were described as “rivals” (i.e., each likely considers the other an “out” group). You should also have noted the “snowy day” (an obvious situational factor that will probably come into play). Remember that this question is asking for the best example of the ultimate attribution error in this context; beware of answer choices that are correct but simply not as good as another choice. Predict the Answer: A scenario that exemplifies the ultimate attribution error here will have the fraternity members attribute their own failure to show up to the meeting to situational factors (probably the bad weather), but attribute the failure of the rival group (the “out group”) to negative personal traits. Choice (D) has the one group thinking that the other group was just too lazy and irresponsible to show up (good so far)! However, those guys don’t also attribute their own failure to show up to the snowy day (or some situational factor like that). Choice (E) is perfect.
Understand the Question/Key Words: This scenario involves a trainer who wants to condition his seal to clap at the sound of its name. We’re asked to identify which behavior on the part of the trainer would make it LEAST likely that he could so train the seal (i.e., which reinforcement schedule would be least effect). Predict the Answer: In general, ratio schedules are the MOST effective, so you can already eliminate (C) and (D), which are fixed-ratio schedules, as well as (E), which is a variable-ratio schedule. Continuous reinforcement is initially good for teaching a new behavior, so eliminate (A). Giving the seal a fish every five minutes, no matter what it is doing, is a fixed-interval schedule. Skinner found that this tends to produce superstitious behaviors in animals and in humans. The seal might believe it is being rewarded for throwing its head back, rather than clapping, and so it will now constantly throw its head back when it wants a fish. Thus, (B) is correct.
Understand the Question/Key Words: You should know the basic facts about the famous (and highly questionable) Zimbardo prison experiment. Even if you forgot some of them, a bit of common sense and POE can narrow down the choices here. Predict the Answer: Remember that this is a NOT question, so any aspect of the study that was basically okay will be the answer. Choice (A) can be eliminated pretty easily; causing subjects extreme distress is always an ethical problem. For (B), you need to remember what demand characteristics are; they are the cues (sometimes very subtle) that let research subjects know that they’re expected to act a certain way. Many believe that the Zimbardo “guards” who behaved abusively were simply adopting the role they knew they were expected to play. Choice (C) looks good! Zimbardo never inferred causation from correlation, as you might when dealing with survey results or other large numbers. This was an experiment involving a handful of subjects (keep (C)). It’s always an issue when the results of a study are used to draw conclusions about people in general, yet the subjects are not representative of the larger population. College-age males might differ from females or older males in terms of aggression (eliminate (D)). The fact that the mock prison setting differed significantly from a real prison is absolutely a problem (eliminate (E)); it’s very difficult to generalize the study’s results to the real world.
Understand the Question/Key Words: Here we have a scenario about little Louie and how he seemed to develop a fear of the doctor after he received a shot from him. You’re being asked to choose the best description of what occurred. Note that the word “all” is capitalized; you can be sure that there will be at least one wrong choice that only addresses some of Louie’s behavior! Predict the Answer: You should identify the type of conditioning that occurred here before proceeding to the answer choices. Note that there are no rewards or punishments, so this must be classical conditioning—not operant conditioning. Also note that Louie’s fear response to the doctor seemed to die out (i.e., it was extinguished). Choice (A) deals with negative reinforcement, (C) deals with shaping, and (E) deals with positive reinforcement; all three can be eliminated because they involve operant conditioning concepts. That leaves us with (B) and (D). Choice (B) is accurate but incomplete because it doesn’t address the fact that the behavior was ultimately extinguished. Choice (D) accurately describes all of Louie’s reactions.
Understand the Question/Key Words: The key to getting this question right is understanding how systematic desensitization works (and not getting confused by all the red herrings)! The technique involves exposing the individual (sometimes virtually or only in the person’s mind) to increasingly frightening aspects of whatever it is he or she fears (imagine a snake across the room, now imagine the snake a few feet away, now imagine the snake about to bite you, etc.). The fear must have a specific focus—otherwise you can’t use the technique. The intensity of the fear, and how it came about, aren’t the critical factors here. Predict the Answer: Choose the scenario in which the fear is generalized (remember that this is a LEAST question, so we’re looking for the case in which desensitization won’t work). Choice (A) describes a young mother suffering from generalized anxiety since the birth of her child (this one looks good)! Dogs are a specific source of fear (eliminate (D)), as is flying (eliminate (C)). The combat veteran with PTSD, (B), isn’t afraid of a specific animal or activity, but rather a series of traumatic memories. However, the therapist can still “expose” him to these memories gradually as he confronts the source of his fear in the safe therapeutic environment. The agoraphobic man can also benefit from desensitization therapy: he might be asked to imagine himself going outside, then actually putting on his coat on to go outside, then placing one foot outside, etc. (eliminate (E) and choose (A)).
Understand the Question/Key Words: Here you’re being asked to identify the data that would be most likely to suffer a ceiling effect (i.e., the dependent variable measures are so high that the independent variable can’t really affect them much). Predict the Answer: Look for the test (or other assessment) that’s too easy for the group of people taking it. Choice (B) fits: most college students can easily solve simple arithmetic problems.
Understand the Question/Key Words: Here you’ll need to assess the truth of various statements about the Asch conformity experiments. Predict the Answer: If you don’t remember this series of experiments, then simply make an educated guess. Allowing private responses (A) and introducing a non-conforming confederate (B) decreased conformity (which makes perfect sense). Choice (C) is also incorrect: one of the problems with this study is that all subjects were college-age males. Choice (E) is incorrect because making the lines more similar (and the task harder) increased conformity—and predictably so; when we’re less sure of ourselves, we’re less likely to openly challenge the consensus. Choice (D) is correct; the number of confederates present did affect conformity rates (conformity was maximized at 3 to 5 people; additional confederates had no significant effect).
Understand the Question/Key Words: The question refers to Piaget, so you should be thinking in terms of his developmental stages. It appears that Billy is an infant and that he understands that the toy is still there even though he can no longer see it. Predict the Answer: You should be thinking—sensorimotor stage (birth to 2 yrs.), with object permanence achieved ((C) is correct). If you forgot some or all of Piaget’s stages, you could still use POE and common sense to narrow down the choices. Choice (A) makes no sense because babies aren’t capable of “logic,” which involves a sophisticated thought process. If you didn’t know what the “concrete operations” stage is, you might not be able to eliminate (B) yet. Choice (D) is the trap answer here because it lists the correct stage, but the wrong milestone; conservation occurs many years later in the concrete operations stage (remember that “half right” is all wrong!). Since (E) can be eliminated through common sense (there’s no “symbolism” here: Billy simply understands that the toy is still there), you would still have it narrowed down to three even if you didn’t remember the stages. Choice (C) is the only one that mentions objects, so that would be your best bet for a guess.
Understand the Question/Key Words: This question seems to be focusing on Ralph’s ability to detect when more salt has been added to the gravy, so you should be thinking “difference threshold (or JND)”! Predict the Answer: If you knew the definition of the JND (the smallest difference between two stimuli that can be detected 50% of the time), then it’s clear that we don’t actually know what the JND is here (but it must be greater than one teaspoon). Ralph only noticed the extra teaspoon of salt two out of six times, so you can eliminate (B) and (D). If you didn’t know how to define JND you could still eliminate (A) because we know nothing about Ralph’s absolute threshold for salt in gravy (i.e., the lowest level at which he can detect salt at all). Choice (C) makes no sense because the level at which Ralph can detect an increase in salt can’t be lower than his ability to detect any salt whatsoever. Choice (E) is correct.
Understand the Question/Key Words: Here you need to know what a double-blind experiment (i.e., neither the experimenter nor the subjects know who is in which group) is designed to eliminate. Predict the Answer: The correct answer will be something negative that you could plausibly eliminate by not telling the experimenter which subjects are receiving which treatment. Choice (D) is out (informed consent is a good thing). Choice (C) makes no sense: random error can’t be eliminated so easily (it’s random). Choice (E) is implausible as well; if a drug has serious side effects, research methodology can’t change that. Choice (A), the placebo effect, might seem like an attractive answer, but it doesn’t fit either. If one group gets a drug and the other gets a placebo, the second group might demonstrate a placebo effect. It doesn’t matter that the experimenter doesn’t know which group received the actual drug (not knowing might actually make a placebo effect more likely). Choice (B) is the answer. Demand characteristics are subtle cues given by the researcher to the subjects that let them know how they’re supposed to behave. In a double-blind scenario, the experimenter doesn’t know how each group is supposed to behave.
Understand the Question/Key Words: Here you’re being tested on your knowledge of the Freudian theories of psychosexual development and what happens when somebody gets fixated, or psychologically “stuck,” at the oral stage. Predict the Answer: Choose the scenario that involves some sort of oral gratification or “infantile” dependency. Choices (C) and (D) both involve an anal-retentive fixation, (B) seems to involve trouble during the phallic stage, and (E) indicates trouble during the genital phase, which could have various causes. Although chewing gum, drinking, and overeating are classic examples of a passive oral fixation, Freud also described using one’s voice to control or harass others as an active oral fixation from a time when one didn’t get one’s needs met by crying. Choice (A) is the correct answer.
Understand the Question/Key Words: The question asks how Annie would view the hostile incident in terms of attribution theory (the ways in which we all try to explain everybody’s behavior). Predict the Answer: You should be thinking in terms of attribution biases, such as the fundamental attribution error. We know that we tend to overestimate dispositional factors (and underestimate situational factors) when interpreting the behavior of others. However, when we’re interpreting our own behavior, we tend to do the opposite. So Annie would probably assume that the other woman fought with her because she’s simply a hostile and unpleasant person, not because the woman was stressed out, etc. In contrast, she would attribute her own hostile behavior to the stressful situation in which she found herself. Choices (A), (B), (C), and (D) are wrong; (E) is the only answer consistent with this theory.
Understand the Question/Key Words: We have a scenario wherein both groups of children showed a significant reduction in disruptive behavior, even though only one group was placed on a token economy. However, the “token” group did show a much greater decrease than did the control group. Predict the Answer: The concept that best accounts for the substantial decrease in disruptive behavior in the “token” group is simply operant conditioning: good behavior is rewarded with something the child wants (nothing extraordinary here). In terms of the decrease in disruptiveness in the control group, however, you’d be at an advantage if you remembered the Hawthorne effect: this involves a change in the behavior being assessed simply as the result of the fact that the subjects are being observed. In this case, the kids are on their best behavior with an authoritative adult stranger in the room ((D) is correct). The placebo effect is inapplicable here (no children were falsely told they were receiving treatment). Social facilitation refers to one’s ability to perform simple tasks when observed and is also inapplicable.
Understand the Question/Key Words: Here you’re being asked to identify the best way to assess an antisocial personality. Predict the Answer: Eliminate any answer choice that relies on information provided by Randy himself (psychopaths are deceptive, manipulative, and adept at hiding their negative traits)! Get rid of (A) and (D). The information gained from a projective test like the Rorschach is harder to fake and will be more accurate. However, it won’t be specific or thorough enough to warrant a diagnosis (eliminate (E)). While skilled clinicians often have good intuition about patients, the doctor’s own feelings about Randy are not an adequate basis for a diagnosis (eliminate (C)). The doctor’s best bet is to rely on what others say about Randy (especially documented incidents of antisocial conduct) and watch his behavior closely ((B) is correct).
Understand the Question/Key Words: We need to consider each of the three rewards given here (a hug, ice cream, and $20) and determine if it is a primary or secondary reinforcer. Predict the Answer: Remember that a “primary” reinforcer is something that is inherently pleasant or rewarding on a biological level (e.g., food and drink), with no need to pair it with another reinforcer. A “secondary” reinforcer, in contrast, has no biological significance; it gains its reward value through association with a primary reinforcer (e.g., a winning raffle ticket). Is a hug inherently rewarding on a biological level? Absolutely—human affection and physical contact are basic needs (you can eliminate (B) and (C)). Is ice cream inherently rewarding on a biological level? There’s no doubt about that! Eliminate (A). Is twenty dollars inherently rewarding on a biological level? Nope! No matter how much we humans like our cash, money has no inherent value for us. Getting twenty dollars is only rewarding because we can exchange it for something else ((D) is wrong and (E) is correct).
Understand the Question/Key Words: Bobby was evidently really mad at his teacher, took it out on his younger brother (sort of claiming that the brother was the one who was hostile), then tried to make it up by being especially nice to the little brother he abused. This is an EXCEPT question, so look for the defense mechanism that doesn’t fit in anywhere in this scenario. Predict the Answer: Bobby’s behavior is a classic example of displacement, in which impulses or feelings, often aggressive ones, are transferred from their original object to one perceived as less threatening (eliminate (A)). His behavior is also classic projection; he attempts to disown his own unacceptable feelings and impulses by falsely attributing them to his brother (accusing his brother of giving him a “mean look”; eliminate (B)). A reaction formation occurs when we behave in a manner that is directly opposed to an underlying impulse that we consider unacceptable. Bobby was nice to his brother and told him that he loved him, even though he really doesn’t like him (eliminate (C)). Undoing involves an attempt to negate or reverse an act that the individual has committed, but considers unacceptable, by doing its opposite. Bobby is clearly trying to make up for his bad behavior towards his brother by being overly nice to him (eliminate (D)). Intellectualization involves an attempt to protect ourselves from anxiety by engaging in abstract reasoning or excessive intellectual activity (this one doesn’t apply; (E) is the answer).
Understand the Question/Key Words: This question describes an experiment and then asks which statement is true about that experiment. Make sure you understand the experimental scenario before proceeding. Predict the Answer: Choice (A) is wrong because it states that a within-subjects design was used. That would mean that all subjects experienced all the conditions or manipulations, but here one group was given a vitamin, another was given a placebo, etc. Choice (B) is wrong because the placebo effect (i.e., students improved because they thought they took a helpful pill) can’t explain ALL the findings: it wouldn’t explain why the “vitamin” group seriously outperformed the “placebo” group. Choice (C) is wrong because a quasi-experiment lacks random assignment, which this study has. Choice (D) is correct: in a between-subjects design there is more than one condition or manipulation, but each subject is only exposed to one, so the subjects are divided into groups (vitamin vs. placebo vs. no pill). Choice (E) is wrong because 100 subjects is a high number for a controlled experiment.
Understand the Question/Key Words: To make a differential diagnosis, Shaun’s therapist must distinguish between or among various diagnoses (which may have overlapping symptoms) and determine which labels, if any, are appropriate. Predict the Answer: Shaun’s list of symptoms, traits, and behaviors suggest that he might have borderline, histrionic, and narcissistic personality disorders ((E) is correct). There is nothing to suggest that he is paranoid or avoidant ((B), (C), and (D) can be eliminated on that basis alone). While antisocial personality disorder might be a tempting answer, Shaun shows no telltale signs of sociopathy (lying, cheating, hurting people, etc.).
Understand the Question/Key Words: Here you’re being asked to identify Ekman’s six basic emotions. Predict the Answer: Be sure to use POE effectively here and eliminate any answer that doesn’t include an emotion that you know for sure is on the list—or includes one that you know is wrong. The six basic emotions are disgust, anger, fear, happiness, surprise, and sadness ((B) is correct).
Understand the Question/Key Words: The word “causes” is critical here; you need to identify the statistic that shows that alcoholism actually causes depression, not just that the two phenomena are associated. To answer this question correctly, you’ll need to understand the difference between causation and correlation! Predict the Answer: Any answer choice that simply shows that alcoholism and depression tend to occur together is wrong; you can eliminate (A), (B), (D), and (E) on this basis. If these two phenomena are only correlated, then maybe depression actually causes alcoholism (people feel sad, so they drink in order to cope). Alternatively, maybe some third factor that’s not even mentioned (such as poverty) is correlated with both factors and is what’s actually causing depression—and maybe even alcoholism too! Choice (C) is the answer because it’s the only statistic that tends to eliminate one of these alternative explanations. If most alcoholics are depressed, and the vast majority of those people were diagnosed with alcoholism before being diagnosed with depression, that would make it unlikely that depression causes alcoholism. If (C) were true (these figures are all made up, by the way), it wouldn’t prove that alcoholism is the causal factor, but, of the five choices, it would offer the most support for that conclusion.
Understand the Question/Key Words: Here you’re being asked to distinguish PTSD from Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Predict the Answer: Both PTSD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder share the symptoms mentioned in (C), (D), and (E). There is no research supporting (B). And, it is true that PTSD, not Generalized Anxiety Disorder, emerges following exposure to the threat of death, injury, or sexual assault. Thus, (A) is the correct answer.
Understand the Question/Key Words: This question concerns Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (remember that the needs at the very tippy top of the pyramid are the ones achieved last—after all the others have been satisfied). Predict the Answer: The more basic the need, the lower on the pyramid it should go (eliminate (A) and (B) right off the bat). Recall that Maslow spoke of self-actualization, including the need for creative self-expression, as the ultimate human goal and driving force (higher on the pyramid than even love or esteem). Choice (C) is the answer.
Understand the Question/Key Words: Here we’re asked to evaluate a mother/child interaction in light of the work of Mary Ainsworth, who is best known for her research on attachment theory. Note that there is something wrong with the relationship in that the child seems conflicted about receiving the mother’s comfort. Predict the Answer: You can easily eliminate (A) because the attachment does not seem secure. Choice (B) states that the mother has never tried to comfort her child before; this is a very extreme statement that is impossible to support based only on the information provided. Choice (D) can similarly be eliminated; we have no information about Tonya’s attachment to her father. With our choices narrowed down to (C) and (E), the word “ambivalent” strongly suggests that (C) is the answer; Tonya seemed to want comfort yet would not receive it. Children with an avoidant attachment are more indifferent than ambivalent.
Understand the Question/Key Words: The word primarily is important here. You’re being asked what the officer is mainly looking for when she instructs the driver to touch his finger to his nose with his eyes closed. Predict the Answer: The cop is primarily testing proprioception here, the ability to sense the position and movement of our body parts, which can be impaired by alcohol ((B) is correct). The officer might also notice impairment in short-term memory, (A), attention span, (C), and reaction time, (D), but these observations are incidental. The officer is not testing visual acuity, (E), because the driver’s eyes are closed.
Understand the Question/Key Words: Here you’re being asked to identify a factor that would support the idea that antisocial behavior is genetic (as opposed to being the result of environmental factors). Predict the Answer: “Monozygotic” (one egg) twins are identical; they share 100% of their DNA. “Dizygotic” (2 egg) twins are fraternal and just like any other siblings; they share only 50% of their DNA. Look for the situation in which identical twins are reared apart, but still share antisocial traits! Choice (A) has fraternal twins reared together and both are antisocial; this could easily be due to environmental influences ((A) is out). Choice (B) has identical twins reared apart (so far, so good)—but neither twin is antisocial (in which case the scenario is irrelevant; eliminate (B)). Choice (C) deals with identical twins who are both antisocial, but they were reared together; if they grew up in the same environment, their antisocial traits could be due to environmental factors ((C) is out). Choice (D) can be eliminated: here we have fraternal twins reared apart and only one is antisocial (no evidence of a genetic link there)! Choice (E) is exactly what we’re looking for; the twins are both antisocial, despite having grown up in different environments.
Understand the Question/Key Words: This question involves assessing whether various survey results are truly measuring what they purport to measure. Predict the Answer: When reading each answer choice, ask yourself “is there any reason why this sample is not representative of the larger population?” For (A), the sample isn’t representative of the statewide population because Jeffrey is only surveying people who shop at one expensive store. Most of these folks will be from the same geographical area and have similar socioeconomic statuses. For (B), the problem is that college students are typically more affluent, academically-oriented, and politically homogenous than are “young people in America” in general. Choice (C) is problematic because the 100 people (out of 500) who took the time to complete the survey and mail it back probably care more about environmental issues than those who didn’t bother. Choice (E) is wrong because Jeffrey spoiled his own sample by showing a film about the evils of poverty before asking them to assess how important a political issue it is. Choice (D) is the best choice here. The “population” to which the sample generalizes is only sixth-graders at that particular school and Jeffrey surveyed 3 of the 4 classes randomly.
Understand the Question/Key Words: Here you’re being asked to characterize two contrasting personality profiles in terms of the theories of Alfred Adler. Note that Elsie and Edward are described as having had highly critical parents. Predict the Answer: You should be thinking in terms of inferiority complex and compensation! According to Adler, two types of negative compensation are overcompensation (striving for power, dominance, etc.) and undercompensation (becoming overly dependent and insecure); Elsie fits the former profile while Edward fits the latter ((D) is correct). If you didn’t remember that, you could eliminate (E) based on common sense: Elsie doesn’t seem to be compensating in a positive way (she obviously has some personality problems). Similarly, (A) and (B) are unlikely in that both siblings seem to be struggling with feelings of inferiority (albeit in very different ways).
Understand the Question/Key Words: This question is testing your knowledge of the structure and function of the ear. Predict the Answer: The tympanic membrane (eardrum) is a membrane that divides the outer ear from the middle ear ((A) is correct). The cochlea, (B), is a spiral-shaped cavity that divides the inner ear and contains the nerves that are required for hearing. The semicircular canals, (C), are curved tubular canals that contain receptors required for balance. The incus, (D), and the malleus, (E), are small bones that transmit sound waves to the inner ear.
Understand the Question/Key Words: Note that this is a “NOT” question: all the wrong answers will be symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome. Predict the Answer: Fetal alcohol syndrome is often associated with a small head, not a large one ((C) is the answer). All the remaining choices are symptoms of FAS.
Understand the Question/Key Words: This question tests your knowledge of efferent neurons, asking you to evaluate the truth of the answer choices. Predict the Answer: Ideally you’ll remember that efferent neurons are motor neurons that carry neural impulses away from the central nervous system to the muscles ((C) is correct). You can use POE here if you know other terms: afferent neurons are sensory neurons that carry impulses from sensory stimuli to the central nervous system ((A) and (D) are wrong). Interneurons transmit impulses between other neurons and enable communication ((B) and (E) are wrong).
Understand the Question/Key Words: You’ll need to be familiar with Eysenck’s three personality scales in order to assess Randy. Predict the Answer: Brad’s aggressiveness and antisocial behavior put him high on the psychoticism scale (eliminate (B)). Further, his instability puts him towards the “neurotic” end of the stability/neuroticism continuum (eliminate (A)). Finally, his sociable nature puts him on the “extravert” end of the introversion/extraversion continuum (eliminate (D)). Eysenck’s theory is biologically based, with people like Brad being predisposed to seek out arousal and stimulation (eliminate (C)). Choice (E) is correct.
Understand the Question/Key Words: Here you’re being asked to identify an example of top-down processing. Predict the Answer: Look for the situation wherein somebody first recognizes a pattern, then perceives incoming stimuli in that context. Choice (E) exemplifies this process: Ned only saw the letters “B” and “U,” but, in the context of a cookie recipe, he knew the word must be “butter” ((E) is correct). Choice (C) exemplifies the opposite: bottom-up processing, in which the incoming stimuli are perceived and then the pattern is recognized. Ned perceives the woman, the uniform, and the plate of food—then realizes that she’s an employee of the store offering samples. Choice (A) simply involves mistaking one object for another because they feel similar when touched. Choice (B) simply involves Ned being unable to recognize an object by sight until he is closer to it. Choice (D) simply involves a colorblind person using other properties of objects in order to identify them.
Understand the Question/Key Words: This scenario involves a store owner who won’t hire an otherwise qualified young woman as a manager because he believes pretty young blondes are flighty, flirtatious, etc. Keep in mind that this is a NOT question, so the correct answer will be inapplicable here. Predict the Answer: Your brain should be screaming words like prejudice, discrimination, etc. Prejudice refers to an attitude (usually negative) towards a group of people based on preconceived notions, (A), and discrimination refers to action taken either for or against someone based on membership in a group, as opposed to individual merit (eliminate (A) and (D)). Out-group homogeneity refers to the tendency to view members of an out-group as more similar than members of an in-group (e.g., an older man believing that attractive young blond women are more apt to resemble one another in terms of personality and behavior; (C) can be eliminated as well). Out-group bias can lead to the development of a stereotype, or standardized image of a group (e.g., young pretty blondes are flighty and flirtatious; (E) is wrong too). Self-serving bias refers to the tendency to take credit for one’s own successes and is inapplicable here ((B) is correct).
Understand the Question/Key Words: This question is asking you to evaluate the ethics of various hypothetical research experiments. Remember that this is a LEAST question, so the “best” scenario (ethically speaking) will be correct. Predict the Answer: Eliminate scenarios that seriously violate any of the basic ethical requirements: confidentiality, informed consent, protection from harm, etc. Use your common sense here too! Ethical guidelines are basically reasonable, so lean towards the scenario that doesn’t seem all that bad from a layperson’s perspective. As for (A)—is it unethical to lie to subjects about the purpose of the study? This one is a bit tricky. Deception is discouraged but allowed when necessary to carry out the experiment. Also, this study seems pretty benign in general. Keep (A) for now. Is it unethical to essentially force prisoners to participate in a drug study—or else lose important privileges? Absolutely! Participation must be voluntary (eliminate (B)). Is it unethical to publish the names of subjects in a study about mental illness? Yes! Findings must be kept confidential (eliminate (C)). Is it unethical to study the extent to which subjects are willing to murder one another with electric shocks? It certainly is, according to modern ethical standards and guidelines (we’re looking at you, Stanley Milgram)! Such a study would likely cause subjects extreme psychological distress (eliminate (D)). Is it unethical to give kids vitamins without their parents’ knowledge? Undoubtedly! Researchers must obtain informed consent (and giving children any kind of pills without parental permission obviously just won’t fly)! Choice (A) is the answer.
Understand the Question/Key Words: Allie seems not to notice that her perfume is strong, and you’re asked which condition or phenomenon is the most likely explanation. Predict the Answer: Allie most likely doesn’t notice that her perfume is intense due to olfactory fatigue; she’s simply become accustomed to the smell. Choice (A), anosmia, involves a loss of the ability to smell and is obviously much more serious. While anosmia could explain the fact that Allie is unaware of her perfume’s strength, simple olfactory fatigue is much more likely. Ageusia, (D), involves a loss of taste, cocktail party syndrome, (C), is an auditory phenomenon, and aphasia, (E), involves loss of speech. Choice (B) is correct.
Understand the Question/Key Words: Here you’re being asked to choose a pair of symptoms that would warrant a diagnosis of schizophrenia, as opposed to schizotypal personality disorder. Predict the Answer: Schizophrenia is a psychosis and can be distinguished on that basis. Choose the symptoms that are hallmarks of psychosis: delusions and hallucinations ((C) is correct). All the other symptoms listed are commonly seen in both disorders.
Understand the Question/Key Words: You’re being asked to identify an example of the availability heuristic. Predict the Answer: Choose the scenario in which somebody miscalculates the likelihood that something will occur based on how many similar instances come to mind. In (A), Greg overestimates the number of good-looking murderers out there because the media chooses to focus on these cases (presumably to increase ratings). Choice (A) fits perfectly and is the correct answer, Choice (B) is an example of the Gambler’s fallacy: Greg falsely believes that the fact that his last five kids were boys affects the likelihood that his next child will be a girl (the odds are still about 50/50). Choices (C) an (D) aren’t the best examples because Greg seems to be dealing with all the relevant data in each case. Choice (E) doesn’t exemplify any heuristic; Greg merely adopts a dog that is available (making (E) a bit of an attractive wrong answer).
Understand the Question/Key Words: It appears that Fluffy has been classically conditioned to meow at the sight of the tuna can, and then this stimulus generalized to the corn, but not to the mushrooms. Further, this conditioned response is probably not extinguished yet, since the can has only been presented twice without Fluffy getting any tuna. Predict the Answer: The can of corn probably looks more like the can of tuna than the mushroom can does; that would explain why Fluffy discriminated between the mushrooms and the tuna—but not between the corn and the tuna ((A) and (B) are the opposite of what we need; (C) looks pretty good). Choices (D) and (E) are wrong because the conditioned response to the tuna can has not yet been extinguished ((C) is correct).
Understand the Question/Key Words: The phrase “reduces prison violence” is critical here! The question is asking you to decide which of the answer choices (if true) should prevent you from inferring causality from this experiment. Keep in mind that this is a “NOT” question, so all the wrong answer choices will be potential problems with the study. Predict the Answer: Right now your brain should be screaming “confounding variable”! Anything other than anger management that could possibly account for the reduction in reported violence on Block A, compared to the rest of the prison, is potentially a confounding variable here. If only Block A prisoners were served a special diet, could that account for the reduction in violence? Absolutely! Behavioral improvement could be caused by something prisoners are (or are not) eating, so (A) is out. If security is much stricter on Block A, could that account for the reduction in violence? This one might require a bit of thought. If security is very tight, prisoners may simply lack the opportunity to be violent (having an armed guard right beside you or security cameras everywhere might keep you on your best behavior!); (B) is out. Could the fact that only highly violent inmates were studied account for the results? No, not really. The study’s findings concern violent inmates. The fact that the subjects were very violent individuals would not make it more likely that something other than anger-management caused the results ((C) looks good). Could the fact that Block A staff want the anger-management program to succeed account for the results? Definitely! The staff are the ones documenting the violence and, if biased, they may (perhaps unknowingly) underreport violent incidents in order to validate their own work ((D) is out). Choice (E) is basically another way of stating that this study lacks a control group—which makes it vulnerable to confounding variables. The researcher should have given only some Block A inmates anger management. Then if those inmates were less violent than the others on Block A, we would know that this difference wasn’t due to some other variable unique to the Block A area or program ((C) is correct).
Understand the Question/Key Words: “Malingering” means faking symptoms in order to gain some advantage. Predict the Answer: Look for the situation that, based on your knowledge of psychology, seems somehow sketchy or unlikely. Is there anything suspicious about a woman with bipolar disorder who’s suicidal (A)? No! Bipolar individuals have a mood disorder; they can get very depressed and sometimes contemplate suicide. Is there anything suspicious about a schizophrenic man hearing voices (B)? Nope—that makes perfect sense. How about a sixteen-year-old anorexic girl having thoughts of hurting herself? No. Self-injury is not uncommon among teenagers, and anorexia isn’t inconsistent with such behavior. How about the thirteen-year-old reporting visual hallucinations? This one should raise your eyebrows! We know that schizophrenic symptoms usually appear for the first time in late adolescence or early adulthood (this kid is way too young). We also know that visual hallucinations are rare (hallucinations caused by psychosis are generally auditory), although the general public often incorrectly believe that mentally ill people “see things.” Finally, the fact that this boy is hospitalized for antisocial behavior suggests that he is probably comfortable with lying and manipulating people in order to get what he wants. Choice (D) looks pretty good at this point. Is there anything suspicious about an elderly woman with memory loss (E)? Not at all ((D) is correct).
FREE-RESPONSE SECTION: ANSWERS AND EXPLANATIONS
1.This question is worth seven points. Points are given based on a student’s ability to explain behavior and apply theories and perspectives in authentic contexts. Each essay is unique, but here is our run-down of what a student should definitely address in order to earn these points:
· ADHD is Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, a Neurodevelopmental disorder, and Simon is displaying several of the key symptoms, including hyperactivity (fidgeting), difficulty staying on task, and problems with executive function (see below). This would likely be Simon’s diagnosis if his parents were amenable.
· Executive function involves planning ahead and staying organized. Problems in this area are often a component of ADHD. These issues are evident in the condition of Simon’s notebook and the fact that he has been missing class deadlines.
· In Erik Erikson’s theory, Simon would be at the stage of “Industry versus Inferiority.” As such, it would be very important to his development that he be recognized for his efforts and his display of competence in given areas. Based on his reaction to a lack of praise, it seems that Simon is sensitive to this dynamic. So, it will be important for the teacher to recognize times when Simon is producing good work.
· Behaviorism prioritizes the study and manipulation of observable, measurable behaviors. Here, Behaviorism is in practice when the teacher and the parents set up a behavior modification program using rewards and punishments to alter Simon’s behavior.
· Fixed-interval schedule is a schedule of reinforcement whereby reinforcement arrives at set time periods. When Simon is rewarded at the conclusion of every 15-minute period of on-task behavior, this is an example of fixed-interval reinforcement.
· Negative punishment has the intent of reducing a behavior by taking something away. Here, when “time out” is applied it functions as negative punishment because the intent is to reduce Simon’s problematic behavior and the means to do this is to take away his opportunity to participate in the classroom environment.
· Shaping involves rewarding successive approximations of a goal. The goal here is to get Simon to stay on task for a full class period, but that may be too ambitious to start. So, a shorter period of 15 minutes is sufficient for him to earn a reward initially, and then that time period is gradually lengthened until it reaches the ultimate goal.
2.This free response question is worth seven points, one for each bullet point. Points are given based on students’ ability to analyze psychological research studies, including analyzing and interpreting quantitative data. Different suitable responses are possible; the following response would earn all of the points:
This study is not an experiment for several reasons: those conducting the study are not manipulating a variable, they have not created experimental and control groups, and they have not controlled for numerous, and possibly confounding, variables. For example, subjects may come from a variety of backgrounds and may have a variety of reasons, beyond their individual personalities, for having an overwhelmingly positive or negative reaction to starting college or being away from home.
It is unclear from the limited data presented whether or not the results of this study are statistically significant. It needs to be determined what the likelihood is that the commonality of “high emotionality” between the “moving-in” episode and the “relationship” rating could occur at this rate as a matter of random coincidence. Only if this possibility were less than five percent (.05) would it be legitimate to claim that the results are statistically significant.
It is a good thing that this article is being presented to a professional journal because it will give the authors’ peers two opportunities to challenge the validity of their procedures and their findings. The editorial board of the journal, consisting of scientific peers, will first make a decision about whether the study is worthy of publication and, if the article is published, a wider group of peers will be able to offer opinions and counter-arguments.
Subject selection and exclusion criteria can have unintended consequences for the study findings. For example, by seeking out students with vivid memories of their first day, as opposed to all students, researchers might be allowing subjects to self-select based on how much emotion they were experiencing; emotion and memory are often linked. By excluding students with less-than-vivid memories for this event, they may be excluding students who did not have a very emotional reaction. Having more “highly emotional” subjects and fewer “low-to-moderate emotion” subjects at the outset could have affected the data produced.
Subjects are relying upon episodic memory in recalling that first day of college and also, probably, when assessing their feelings about a relationship. Those feelings probably involve specific events in the past.
Trait theory assumes that people have relatively stable patterns of behavior that underlie their personalities. This study, and the theory it seeks to support, hypothesizes a personality trait of “emotionality” that will not be a one-time event; rather it would be expected to show up as a regular part of the individual’s personality.
Confirmation bias is a tendency to only look for evidence that supports a pre-existing notion, or to interpret ambiguous evidence as supportive of that notion. Here, researchers went into the study with an idea of what they were hoping to find. Therefore, they need to be particularly careful that they did not exhibit this bias. For example, they may want to look carefully at individuals who displayed “high emotionality” about moving-in day but not about other significant events. Perhaps some qualities of moving-in day are unique and it should not be used to generalize.