How people understand themselves and others

‘Psychological theory and research into how people understand themselves and others has important real-world applications.’
Evaluate this claim (above), drawing upon examples of research from across the module to support your answer.

Student notes for part 1

Focus
This part of the EMA is intended to assess your skills of evaluating a claim (that ‘psychological theory and research into how people understand themselves and others has important real-world applications’), and using your judgement to select appropriate material to evidence and support your arguments.
You will need to give careful consideration to what is meant by ‘psychological theory and research into how people understand themselves and others’, and then present some carefully selected material that allows you to back up your evaluation of the claim that this research ‘has important real-world applications’.
You are explicitly asked to draw upon examples of research from across the module to support your answer. A particular challenge of this essay is to select appropriate examples from a potentially very broad range of relevant material, from across the module topics.
Command words
The command word in the essay question is evaluate. This means that you will need to make an appraisal of the worth, validity and/or effectiveness of the claim that is stated within the question (that ‘psychological theory and research into how people understand themselves and others has important real-world applications’).
To evaluate the claim itself, you will need to discuss the extent to which relevant theory and research in psychology (i.e. looking at how people understand themselves and others) has real-world applications, selecting relevant examples to illustrate your points (or, if you feel it appropriate, noting the absence of real-world applications). Note that the question also asks you to evaluate the ‘importance’ of these real-world applications, so this should be a key aspect of your answer.
Tips for writing
The essay question specifically asks you to draw on research examples from across the module, so when selecting which material to include make sure you demonstrate a breadth of knowledge (e.g. don’t draw exclusively or very heavily on just one book chapter or module week, no matter how interesting you find it).
Given the claim you have been asked to evaluate, you need to give a good range of research examples that illustrate any real-world applications of relevant psychological theory and research, as directed by the question as set. Don’t, for example, focus exclusively on one real-world application or problem, or two very similar applications. Also, make sure your answer focuses directly on theory and research about ‘how people understand themselves and others’.
A good range of relevant psychological real-world applications have been covered within the module, and it is your job to pick out some relevant examples of these, and present them in order to support the arguments you wish to make in answering the set question.
You may find it useful to think of the claim you have been asked to evaluate as having two key parts:
a.psychological research into how people understand themselves and others has real-world applications;
b.these real-world applications are important.
Remember to focus on evaluating both parts (a and b) of this claim when constructing your answer.
It would be appropriate for you to draw on additional material that you have found in your independent study time to help illustrate your points, such as recent research papers that you might have found through the Open University Library. However, you should make sure that you use these to support points that are based on examples from within the module, rather than introducing entirely new topics or areas.

Relevant material for Part 1

It is up to you to use your judgement to decide which parts of the module you want to draw upon to develop your answer, and which material will best serve to illustrate your points and support your arguments. Many topics in the module contain relevant examples and illustrations that you could include in your essay, but there will not be space within the word limit for you to cover everything that might be relevant. You will therefore need to be selective, choosing examples that build a coherent argument, supported by well-selected evidence.
You should think carefully about what is meant by ‘psychological research into how people understand themselves and others’, and be clear about this both in your answer, and when deciding which material to include.
You should also think carefully about an appropriate selection of research examples to discuss in your answer. You may find it useful to select a smaller number of examples/research areas to discuss in more detail, while mentioning other examples/topics more briefly.
The list below gives some suggestions for module topic weeks that you should consider revisiting when deciding what to include. The list is written in the order in which they appear in the module. However, they are not intended to be a ‘menu’ of what you should cover, and you may well find other useful examples in other parts of the module.
You may also find it useful to review the module consolidation Week 28, and perhaps also to refer back to the module introduction (Week 1), as this may help you to consolidate your understanding of the connections between different module topics.
Week 2: Mindreading
Week 4: Mindreading difficulties − examples from clinical psychology
Week 8: Conflict in close relationships
Week 10: Nations and immigration
Week 18: Making sense of the world
Week 24: Sex and sexuality
Week 25: Living online
Week 26: Self-help − changing people’s understandings to change their experience
Order Notes