University of Wisconsin–Madison

MINI-PROJECTS IN AN UPPER-LEVEL PSYCHOLOGY COURSE

professor Joe Asterweil

Psychology 525: Cognition in Health and Society

Mini-Project 1

Task: Create a flyer or poster that communicates three recommendations for cell-phone usage while walking based on what you learned from class (and extra readings if you want). This is not an abstract issue: there are cities banning cell phone usage while crossing streets (e.g., Honolulu, HI: https://www.npr.org/2017/10/25/560089121/distracted-walking-law-banstexting-while-crossing-streets-in-honolulu) or using installing new safety technology (e.g., LED strips in Bodegraven, Netherlands: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-38992653)

Each recommendation should be conveyed in an efficient and non-messy manner. With each recommendation should be an explanation of the scientific evidence for it. The explanation can be text and/or graphic.

 

Mini-Project 2

Task: Write a “mock” letter to a dean that makes two scientifically supported suggestions for improving student performance on tests.

Your letter should be 1-page, single-spaced, with at least 1” margins and a font size of 12.

 

Mini-Project 3

Task: Write a paper arguing for or against evidence gained from a police interview using what you have learned about testimony, confessions, memory recall, and other cognitive factors.

As discussed in the popular Netflix series Making a Murderer, Brendan Dassey (born in Manitowoc WI) was convicted and found guilty of serious crimes, including, but not limited to, first-degree murder. The case hinges on testimony from Dassey where he confessed to the crime. He later recants his confession, claiming (with his lawyers) that the confession was coerced.

Based on scientific evidence from the cognitive psychology literature, argue for or against that the confession should be taken as valid testimony (beyond a reasonable doubt). Although there are many other factors that might influence your judgment as to the appropriateness of the confession as evidence in court, please only consider factors related to course material. For example, one might argue that his low IQ would make him incapable of knowing the consequences of confessing to a crime – although broadly an appropriate argument, it would not be appropriate for the paper. However, this does not mean that any argument that appeals to his low IQ is inappropriate. If IQ interacts with some sociocognitive factor discussed or closely related to the course material, then that argument would be appropriate for this assignment.

Downloadable versions of each are available on the website. Here are youtube links:

1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYOaIDxirHE

2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJt6j5E1y_s 

3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-Y_CCkMv3Q

Please refer to three specific instances (with the clock time) during the interview as part of your paper.

 

Mini-Project 4

Goal: Analyze how choice presentation affects decision-making.

Tasks:

1. Create a map of how food are laid out at your dining hall (or favorite grocery store). Turn in the map write a

paragraph analyzing the layout in terms of heuristics, biases, and nudging.

2. Rearrange the items in the map (a copy of the one from 1) such that people are most likely to make good decisions.

Turn in the map and write a paragraph explaining what you mean by “good” and why the arrangement would

facilitate good decisions using ideas from heuristics, biases, and nudging.

3. Rearrange the items in the map (a copy of the one from 1) such that people are most likely to make bad decisions.

Turn in the map and write a paragraph explaining what you mean by “bad” and why the arrangement would

facilitate good decisions using ideas from heuristics, biases, and nudging.

4. Make three general recommendations for dining hall (or grocery store) designers

5. Write one paragraph defending each recommendation using cognitive mechanisms and empirical evidence.