The psychology of thought and language

The psychology of thought and language is conceptual and abstract in nature. It is more theoretically grounded than some other subdisciplines of psychology. In many cases, competing theories might look very similar, with only subtle differences, and might both account equally well for the linguistic behavior we regularly observe. Thus, in order to distinguish between two competing theories, researchers must critically evaluate our assumptions about language and then craft studies with very clever methods that pit one theory against the other. The textbook for this class is full of descriptions of such studies.

Your assignment is to select ONE of the four sets of competing ideas I have listed here and write a paper that argues in favor of one view over the other:

2. The idea that thoughts precede language vs. that language precedes thought (ch. 5)

In your paper, you should do the following.

· Begin by providing some contextual background information. That is, describe and compare the two theories. Be careful not to portray straw-man arguments of a particular view!

· Choose a side. Make an assertion that the evidence in favor of your chosen view is stronger than the evidence for the other.

· Describe the evidence that exists in favor of the theory you have chosen. Describe the methods and results of studies that support your chosen view in enough detail that someone could follow what you’re talking about even if they haven’t read the textbook.

· Connect the evidence you have cited back to your chosen theory. Describe why it supports your view instead of the competing view.

· Evaluate any evidence that contradicts your theory. Try to imagine the arguments that someone would level against you if they read your paper and happened to agree with the opposite side of the debate. Acknowledge this evidence and respond to it, rebut it, or reconcile it with your theory somehow. This may be the most difficult part of your paper because you don’t want to undermine your own argument, but you also can’t set up straw-man arguments to shoot down for the opposing view. Don’t be overly committed to your view if the evidence doesn’t support it. If there is strong evidence that opposes your chosen view, temper your assertions and conclusions appropriately. If you can think of a study that would help to resolve lingering issues in the debate between the two theories, propose this study as possible future research (and be sure to describe how it could help resolve the debate).

· At the conclusion of your paper, reiterate the assertion you made at the outset and tell your reader why it matters. What are the practical implications of this theory?

The entire application activity is worth 50 points. Try to be thorough. A strong paper is typically around 3–4 pages, but this is not a strict requirement. Your paper should be in basic APA format (i.e., 12-point, Times New Roman font, double spaced, with 1-inch margins).

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