Psychology in Action

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Who are the people? Etc. Once everyone has had a chance to write down their own interpretation go around the class and sample as many different perspectives as time allows. You may want to write down the major categories that your students' responses could be sorted by, such as anger, praise, jealousy, family argument, lover's sorrow, success story, failure story etc.. Ask the students how they would explain the tremendous diversity of answers and perspectives. Then ask, "How is Life like a Projective Test"? Be sure to emphasize the ambiguity of many situations, the critical importance of cognitive mindsets (e.g. Martin Seligman's work on Learned Optimism). Finally, ask each student to select one or two experiences from their life today that illustrate how their reaction or behavior was patterned more by what they attributed to the situation rather then by "just the facts". Can they remember an experience where they saw a situation (such as a dance or a date) one way while their friend(s) had a totally different take on what happened? If time permits, you could group the students in teams of 5 or 6 and ask one or two students to describe a challenging situation in their lives and how they make sense of it. Then have the other members of the group describe how they would interpret such a situation and their possible response. The point here is not to give advice, but for the students to look at one or two real life situations with different sets of glasses. Instructor’s Resource Guide                              Chapter 13                                         Page   164
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What are the implications if the life they experience is based less on the world as it is and more on the filter they bring to it? On the other hand, if our interpretation of life is based on our personality, can taking a "Positive Mental Attitude" really work? Brain-Based Learning Activity 13.3 - Personality: Water or Stone? One of the paradoxes inherent in personality theory is the concept of stability over time. Ask your students to think of someone they have known for a long time, preferably someone they know personally, rather than a public figure. A good example would be a grandparent or a relative. Ask them how that person has changed over the last 10 (20, 30) years and how they have stayed the same. Ask them to imagine meeting that person ten years in the future. What will have remained the same? What will have changed? After the class has discussed their answers for a while, ask them if the person that has lived through the time span is till the same person? Has their personality changed or is it just their behavior? What would have to happen before they could conclude that the person has changed so much, they really are no longer the personality that you knew?
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