212h: The 1999 Final
Doug Davis

This is an open-book, take-home exam in two parts, each of which is due in the form of a Word or HTML document emailed or delivered (on -- gasp -- paper) by the end of the exam period (i.e., May 7 for seniors, May 14 for others). You may discuss these topics with others in the class, but your final writing must be your own and you should cite conversations that clearly influenced the final form of your essay (e.g., "My position on the situationism controversy was developed in conversation with Jane Doe.") I will be available from May 5 on for meetings with individuals or groups, and I will be happy to respond to emailed ideas or drafts if you give me some lead time. Remember, the goal is to pick a topic on which you can show what you've learned about Personality Assessment.

I: The Discussion Section of My Recent Research Report
(roughly three single-spaced pages, 2000 words max)

The first thing your essay should do is discuss the study in which you participated, building on what's already in the Web page (a link to which you should include). Summarize the goals and findings very briefly, and then

How does your study (or how would a more methodologically-sophisticated follow-up with a broader subject base and perhaps richer data) address one or more important concerns of this course? To what central debate or theme(s) of personality psychology as suggested by the syllabus will such a study contribute? A really good "Suggestions for Further Research" section at the end of a Discussion doesn't simply propose more subjects, better statistics; rather, it suggests in some detail how subsequent research will have to differ to better address important underlying questions and -- ideally -- it tells the reader what particular outcomes of such research will mean for our understanding of these questions.

II. A Dialogue With Meehl (or someone like him)
(roughly three single-spaced pages, 2000 words max)

This topic is something like the first, but without the stimulus of your own study. I want a well-informed, closely-reasoned, essay on an important question for Personality Assessment at the millenium, focussed on some aspect of the field that you can explain briefly: situations, clinical/statistical or Bayesian approaches to decision-making, the relationship of cognitive to personality factors, implicit personality theories and the "big five," the relationship of computer/Internet use to personality.

Here's how you might organize such an essay. There seem to me to be several underlying dimensions, dichotomies, or debates to which many of the assigned readings pertain. Pick one of these, summarize the issues clearly with paraphrase and citation of the relevant readings, and articulate and defend your own point of view. I'd prepare for this by re-browsing both the syllabus and the Web Forum Discussion, with my class notes and/or annotated copy of Funder & Ozer in hand. A quick re-read of Funder's intro, Carlson's "Person," or Meehl's "Cookbook" or "Intro" should help you get your theme in mind. You may cast this essay as a critical review of the key articles, as a first-person account (with evidence) of your own position, or as a conversation with an author whose position you're critiquing.