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AP Psychology Free Response Questions
• Read each question
• Outline the answer
• Identify names, concepts, and studies that could be used to support the answer (Academically throw-up).
• Remember about READ-DO-DEFINE-APPLY
• Divide answers and remember context
• DO NOT contradict – DO demonstrate knowledge of concepts 1992 (3 content areas) Question #1 – Learning
Question #2 – Psychohterapy and Perspectives (explanations) 1993 (4 content areas)
Question #1 – Research Design and Memory (9pts)
Design and describe an experiment to measure the relationship between rehearsal/ repetition of a list of words and later recall of that same list
of words. In your answer you should formulate a hypothesis and include a description of each of the following.
B. Subject selection
C. Independent variable
D. Dependent variable
E. Experimental group
F. Control group
G. Potential confounding variable
H. A method of reducing experimental bias
Question #2 – Psychotherapy and Learning (10pts)
Describe the therapeutic procedure called systematic desensitization. Select a specific disorder for which this therapy is effective and explain
how the basic phenomena listed below play a part in successful treatment
A. Anxiety hierarchy
D. Extinction 1994 (4 content areas)
Question #1 – Scientific Research Design (12pts)
Design an experiment to determine weather a new drug that is supposed to reduce hyperactivity in children actually does. Your essay should
include and identification and description of all the components of your experimental design, including sampling, independent and dependent
variables, controls, and the method that you would employ to evaluate the outcome.
Question #2 – Learning, Memory, and Social Psychology (11pts)
One of the most useful generalizations in psychology is that “behavior is adaptive.” Explain this generalization and then identify each of the
following and describe how each could be adaptive.
D. Displaced Aggression
E. Loss of information form short term memory 1995 (3 content areas)
Question #1 – Scientific Research and Social Psychology (12pts)
Compare and contrast the experimental method and the survey method in terms of their suitability for investigating the hypothesis that
frustration leads to aggressive behavior
In comparing and contrasting the two methods, be sure to identify and discuss each of the following.
A. Independent variable
B. Dependent variable
D. Experimental and response bias
E. Ethical issues 2
Question #2 – Social Psychology and Perspectives (explanations) (10pts)
Define each of the following concepts and explain how each contributes to the phenomenon of prejudice.
B. Self-fulfilling prophecy
C. Fundamental attribution error
E. Schema 1996 (6 content areas)
Question #1 – Biological Psychology, Personality, Perspectives (explanations) (10pts)
Discuss how social and biological factors have an impact on each of the following in the individual.
A. Body weight
Question #2 – Research Design and Motivation (10pts)
Professor Jackson believes that frustration increases the need for achievement. She decides to test her hypothesis with her introductory
psychology class of about 100 students. The first 50 students who arrive for class one day are taken to a separate room and given a series of
easy puzzles to complete. Professor Jackson then asks each student about his or her professional goals. She rates the statement of each on a
7-point scale for strength of achievement motivation.
When they arrive, the remaining students are taken to another room and given a series of difficult puzzles by Proffessor Jackson’s teaching
assistant Jim. Jim also asks each student about his or her professional goals and, like Professor Jackson, then rates the statement of each on a
The group given the difficult puzzles ahs, on average, higher achievement motivation scores than the group given easy puzzles. Proffessor
Jackson concludes that her hypothesis is supported.
Show how each of the following aspects of Professor Jackson’s experimental design is flawed. Indicate how you would correct each
B. Assignment of participants
C. Dependent variable
D. Control for experimental bias
E. Control of confounding variables (You need cite only one) 1997 (3content areas)
Question #1 – Learning (10pts)
Many people are concerned about the effects of the use of physical punishment t to modify the undesirable behavior of children.
A. Basing your answer on physiological knowledge, apply each of the following in an argument against the use of physical
Classical conditioning of fear
B. How would psychologists use the following processes to modify children’s undesirable behavior?
Question #2 – Personality and Perspectives (explanations) (10pts)
Although personality is generally consistent throughout the life span, some people exhibit major personality changes.
How do each of the following help to explain BOTH continuity and change in personality?
How would any TWO of the above interact to produce change in the trait of shyness? 3
1998 (5 content areas)
Question #1 – Research Design and Social Psychology (12pts)
Read the following abstract of a student research project on bystander intervention and then answer the questions that follow.
The ten participants in the study were unaware of its purpose. The first five who signed up to be tested were assigned to the Alone condition
and the next five were assigned to the With Others condition., each of the five participants was asked to wait in a room with several
confederates of the researcher. During this waiting period, a male voice in the next room screamed out, asking for help.
In each condition, the percentage of participants who responded to the cry for help was recorder.
A. Identify the independent and dependent variables in this study,
B. Identify four flaws in the design of this study and the recommendations you would make to correct these flaws.
C. Discuss an ethical issue raised by the design of the study.
D. Use your knowledge of research in social psychology to describe the likely results of this study if correct methodology had been
Question #2 – Memory, Psychotherapy, and Perspectives (explanations) (9pts)
A. Describe fully the distinctive emphasis of cognitive approach to human behavior and mental process. In your essay, be sure to specify
how the cognitive approach differs from the following psychological approaches.
B. Give an example of the contribution of cognitive theory to the understanding of each of the following.
Depression 1999 (7 content areas)
Question #1 – Biological Psychology, Learning, Stress/Health (8pts)
A. Describe the role each of the following mechanisms in determining an individual’s eating habits and body weight.
Body or brain chemistry
B. Select one biological and one learning mechanism and discuss the implications of each for weight management.
Question #2 – Research Design, Memory, Intelligence, and Thinking (10pts)
In a study, researchers use a photograph taken in a public park to examine how people perceive, learn, and remember information. IN the
photograph, a woman is standing near a man who is seated on a park bench. The woman appears to be shouting at the man.
Participants in the study are exposed to the photograph for ten seconds and then are shown, each for ten seconds, several other photographs of
people interacting. When all the photographs have been shown, the participants are asked about what they saw in the “public park”
photograph. A significant number of participants describe the man as being the aggressor in an apparent disagreement with the woman.
Describe how each of the following concepts helps explain the perceptions of these participants. Be sure to begin by defining each concept
in psychological terms.
Framing 2000 (3 content areas)
Question #1 – Research Design (11pts)
The police chief of New City sates publicly that she sees a direct relationship between teenage arrests in New City for violent crimes and the
popularity among New City teens of especially violent television shows.
Design a correlational study to research this claimed relationship, being sure to address how each of the following design elements would
apply to your study.
Operational definition of variables
Selection of participants
Two ethical considerations
The police chief concludes that watching violent television shows leads to teens’ committing violent crimes in New City. Do you support her
conclusion? Explain your response. 4
Question #2 – Motivation and Learning (8pts)
Your high school is proposing moving to a system in which grades are no longer given or used to evaluate student progress.
Define each of the following concepts and state how each might either positively or negatively change student behavior under such a system.
Arousal theory (Yerkes-Dodson Law)
Self-fulfilling prophecy 2001 (7 content areas)
Question #1 – Perspectives (explanations) and Psychotherapy (8pts)
A. Discuss the cause of anxiety from each of the following perspectives.
B. Discuss a specific treatment technique for reducing anxiety used by professionals representing each of the four perspectives.
Question #2 – Sensation, Perception, Consciousness, Thinking, Memory (6pts)
Describe the psychological concept of expectancy or set. Discuss a specific example of how each expectancy or set affects each of the
The effects of a psychoactive drug on a human
A student’s performance in the classroom
Human problem solving
Memory 2002 (8 content areas)
Question #1 – Motivation, Body Communication, Sensation, and Consciousness (10pts)
The human organism displays various reactions that are characterized by opposing tendencies. Use specific physiological or psychological
mechanisms to explain how each of the opposing processes apply to EACH of the following.
Autonomic nervous system
Question #2 – Development, Learning, Language, Cognition/Memory (10pts)
Five year-old Jessie went to a fire station with her kindergarten class. When she got home, Jessie, who is in the preoperational stage of
cognitive development, eagerly told the story of her adventure to her older brother. Describe how the following factors might have
influenced the story she told. Be sure to define and provide an appropriate example of EACH factor.
Overregularization or overgeneralization in language
Question #1 – Statistics, Intelligence, Psychometrics (10pts)
A. Statistics are often used to describe and interpret the results of intelligence testing.
Describe three measures of central tendency (mean, medium, mode).
• Describe a skewed distribution. •
• Relate the three measures of central tendency to a normal distribution.
Relate the three measures of central tendency to a positively skewed distribution. • An intelligence test for which the scores are normally distributed has a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 15. Use this
information to describe how the scores are distributed. • In two normal distributions, the means are 100 for group I and 115 for group II. Can an individual in group I have a higher score
than the mean score for group II? Explain. B. Apply knowledge of psychological research in answering the following questions about intelligence scores.
Explain why norms for standardized intelligence tests are periodically updated.
Describe how to determine weather an intelligence test is biased. 5
Question #2 – Operant Conditioning, Social Psychology, Motivation, Drug use (10pts)
A. Define the following psychological concepts.
Conformity B. •
• Incentive Motivation
Negative Reinforcement • Physiological addiction Use on specific example from each of the concepts in part A to explain how the concept might relate to either the development of or the
continuation of a smoking habit. It is not necessary to use the same example for each concept. 2004
Question #1 – Data Collection and Statistics (8pts)
Dr. Franklin investigated the relationship between stress and physical illness. She persuaded a high school principal to require all female
athletes in the school to participate in her study. She explained the purpose of her research to the athletes and asked them to use a standard
form to rate the severity of their stress over the last six months. More than 250 athletes completed the form. Then Dr. Franklin analyzed the
forms returned by the first 100 athletes. She requested the attendance records from the nurse’s office for each of those athletes to verify the
number of days absent due to illness during the same six-month period. In the debriefing summary that Dr. Franklin sent to the 100 athletes
after she completed the study, she stated that athletes who reported more stress also experienced more frequent illness. Dr. Franklin
concluded that stress causes physical illness.
Identify the research method used by Dr. Franklin.
• Describe the operational definitions of the TWO key variables that Dr. Franklin used in the study. •
• Based on the information provided, describe ONE appropriate and ONE inappropriate ethical feature of the study.
Identify ONE statistical technique that Dr. Franklin could use to represent the relationship between the variables in the study. • Describe TWO aspects of the research design that weakens the validity of Dr. Franklin’s conclusions that stress causes physical
illness. Question #2 – Development, Intelligence, Social Psychology, Emotion, Learning, Body Communication, and Perception (8pts)
Time is an important variable in many psychological concepts. Describe a specific example that clearly demonstrates an understanding of
each of the following concepts and how it relates to or is affected by time. Use a different example for each concept.
• Fluid Intelligence
Group Polarization • James-Lange theory of emotion •
• Presentation of the conditioned stimulus (CS) and unconditioned stimulus (UCS) in classical conditioning
Refractory period in nerve firing •
• Sound localization
Spontaneous recovery 2005
Question #1 – Perception, Cognition, Social Psychology, Development, Scientific Data Collection, and Memory (8pts)
Describe a specific example that clearly demonstrates an understanding of how each of the following concepts can lead to an inaccurate
perception, cognition, or conclusion. Each example must include an explanation of the relationship between the concept and the inaccuracy.
• Available heuristics •
Groupthink • Lack of object permanence •
• Nonrandom assignment of research participants
Optimistic explanatory style • Proactive interference Question #2 – States of Consciousness, Development, Mental Disorders (9pts)
Psychologists conduct research to investigate controversial issues. Consider the following:
The value of diagnostic labeling
A. Describe the opposing points of view on each psychological issue listed above.
Children’s acquisition of language
Your description must provide one argument on each side of the controversy.
B. For each issue, choose one point of view to support. Using evidence from the
Explanation of hypnosis
psychological research, justify why you think this point of view is correct. ...
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- Winter '17