Components Of An Effective Critical Essay Psychology
This short video will show you the key components of an effective Critical Essay in Psychology. OK, so imagine that in our essay topic we’ve been asked to “Discuss the variables contributing to Exercise Behavior.
So in this example, we are focusing on variables. Other essay topics may look at theories, treatments or some other aspect. One way to approach a critical essay is to state the argument, provide evidence to support that argument, and then identify and critique the research of the balanced argument. So our beginning point must be to delve into the research, in this case, on Exercise Behavior, and this means Journal Articles, not YouTube and Wikipedia! As you read through the research you will identify the variables contributing to this topic At this point, you should be able to identify one or two key variables that are most influential in contributing to the topic.
From here you can create your argument, for example “It will be argued that intrinsic motivation significantly contributes to exercise behaviour”. It’s important to make sure your variable is clearly stated in your argument. For example, if we were to just say ‘motivation’, this could mean extrinsic motivation (or an external reason for exercise such as exercising so your personal trainer doesn’t get angry with you or it could mean intrinsic motivation (or an internal reason, such as exercising because you enjoy the activity). Just make sure that the variable in the argument is clear and appropriate for the evidence that will be in the essay body. Now imagine that the essay body has two parts.
In this example, the first part is providing the evidence for the argument. Remember – the research used as evidence needs to be consistent with the variable in your argument. In this case, intrinsic motivation. The second part of the essay body would then be the ‘balanced argument’, which really just means, filling in the picture by identifying any other points of view, or other variables that contribute to the topic, in this case. You need to define each one, outline the research on each and, most importantly, critique this research.
In Psychology, we know that many variables are involved in a topic, and the balanced argument just shows that there are other variables that could be involved. By critiquing the research on these other variables, we can show that these variables are not as influential as the variable in the argument. In this example, let’s focus on social support. If we only outline the research and not provide any critique, we are not giving the reader information on how that variable is not as influential as the variable in the argument. There are many ways to critique the research on a variable and the critiques can vary in how effective, or strong, they are.
For example a weak critique, would just outline one study on social support and then identify the limitations of that one study. A stronger critique would outline more than one study on social support and then identify limitations common to all the studies. So to summaries, an effective Critical Essay will: Look at research on the topic, have a clear argument, Identifies evidence to support the argument and include a Balanced argument (or the alternative points of view).