For this 5–6-page assignment, you will consider a time in your own professional development and career when you had to make a large decision and analyze and evaluate the strategies you used to guide your decision making, including the use of theories and principles specific to cognitive and affective psychology.

Throughout your career you will be faced with complex decisions. Evaluation of past professional decisions helps you understand and build a repertoire of solid strategies for decision making.

Complete the following:

  • Identify a time in your own professional development and career when were faced with a large decision. That decision could relate to furthering your education, taking a new position, or another topic of your choosing.
  • Analyze the strategies that you employed to guide your decision making and reasoning.
  • Explain how you used theories and principles related to both cognitive and affective psychology in this instance of personal decision making.
  • Evaluate how successful those strategies were in helping your reach a conclusion.
  • Evaluate the theories and principles that pertain to the cognitive components of cognitive and affective psychology.
    • Apply theories and principles of cognitive psychology to address a common misconception.
  • Evaluate the theories and principles that pertain to the affective components of cognitive and affective psychology.
    • Apply theories and principles of affective psychology to address a common misconception.
  • Explain how the theories and principles of cognitive and affective psychology can be incorporated into professional practice.
    • Construct an approach for addressing a common misconception in an identified population.
  • Explain how ethical principles and practices influence the application of the theories and principles found within cognitive and affective psychology.
    • Analyze ethical issues raised when addressing a common misconception in an identified population.
  • Communicate in a manner that is scholarly, professional, and consistent with expectations for members of the psychology professions.
    • Communicate in a manner that is scholarly, professional, and consistent with expectations for members of the psychology professions.

When humans are confronted with a problem—an obstacle to be overcome or a goal to meet—they use a cycle that includes the following steps (Sternberg & Sternberg, 2012):

  • Identify the problem
  • Define the problem
  • Consider strategies for solving the problem
  • Consolidate and organize information about the problem
  • Allocate resources for solving the problem
  • Monitor the problem solving
  • Evaluate the solution.

Youth provide considerable insights into this process as they attempt (and at times fail) to solve the problems of everyday life; adults do, too. Consider the following answer to an undergraduate history class essay question on the Civil Rights movement:

The Civil Rights movement in the USA turned around the corner with Martin Luther Junior’s famous, “If I Had a Hammer” speech. Martin Luther King’s four steps to direct action included self purification, when you allow yourself to be eaten to a pulp. The wealing and dealing of President Lynda B. Johnson was another important factor. (Henriksson, 2001, p. 131)

Although the problem-solving attempts here (not to mention spelling and usage) run woefully and humorously amok, they do provide insights into what the person was thinking during the journey through the problem-solving process.

Critical Thinking

Before psychologists sought to understand the process of critical thinking, the ancient philosophers grappled with questions about reasoning. In his famous apology (this means a defense of one’s beliefs, not an admission of guilt for which one is sorry), philosopher Socrates attempts to dispute charges of impiety brought against him by the Athenian politicos of 339 B.C. in Greece. Socrates begins his case by summing up the charges brought against him:

Let us go back to the beginning and consider what the charge is that made people so critical of me, and has encouraged Meletus to draw up this indictment. Very well; what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers. ‘Socrates is committing an injustice, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example.’ (Plato, trans. 1954, p. 43)

According to Boston College philosophy professor Peter Kreeft, Socrates’s problems began with the Oracle of Delphi:

The Oracle of Delphi, when asked if there was anyone wiser than Socrates answered that there was not. Socrates was astounded by this answer because he knew he had no wisdom. Instead of dismissing the Oracle as a fraud, he assumed that no god could lie, and therefore she had spoken the truth. He demanded to know the meaning of the riddle. He tried to find someone wiser than himself, but was never able to find anyone. What he found was that many people thought that they had wisdom but under his cross examination he discovered that none of these people did in fact possess true wisdom.

Socrates himself had no wisdom, but he found that no one was wiser than he because he at least knew he had no wisdom while everyone else thought they did. It was the Oracle that coaxed Socrates into developing his method of questioning, and thus it was this god that turned him into a philosopher. (Kreeft, 2004, p. 16)

Thus, Professor Kreeft presents the first lesson of Socratic teaching: There are only two kinds of people: (1) fools who think they are wise and (2) the wise, who know they are fools.


Henriksson, A. (2001).Non campus mentis: The world according to college students. New York, NY: Workman Publishing.

Kreeft, P. (2004).What would Socrates do? The history of moral thought and ethics.Philadelphia, PA: Scribe.

Plato. (Trans. 1954).The last days of Socrates(H. Tredennick & H. Tarrant, Trans.). London, UK: Penguin Books.

Sternberg, R. J., & Sternberg, K. (2012).Cognitive psychology(6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

To deepen your understanding, you are encouraged to consider the questions below and discuss them with a fellow learner, a work associate, an interested friend, or a member of the business community.

  • What are the components of the problem-solving cycle?
  • How do well-defined and ill-defined problems differ?
  • What are some of the obstacles and aids to problem solving?
  • How does expertise develop?
  • What strategies guide human decision making and reasoning?
  • What is deductive reasoning? What facilitates and impedes its use?
  • What is inductive reasoning? What facilitates and impedes its use?
  • What other forms of reasoning are there?

The following e-books and articles are linked directly in this course:

  • Blanchette, I., & Richards, A. (2010). The influence of affect on higher level cognition: A review of research on interpretation, judgement, decision making and reasoning. Cognition and Emotion, 24(4), 561–595.
  • Botella, M., Zenasni, F., and Lubart, T. (2011). Alexithymia and affect intensity of art students. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 5(3), 251–257.
  • Elliott, T. R., Sherwin, E., Harkins, S. W., & Marmarosh, C. (1995). Self-appraised problem-solving ability, affective states, and psychological distress. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 42(1), 105–115.
  • Choi, J. N., & Kim, M. U. (1999). The organizational application of groupthink and its limitations in organizations. Journal of Applied Psychology, 84(2), 297–306.
  • Johnson-Laird, P. N., & Byrne, R. M. J. (2002). Conditionals: A theory of meaning, pragmatics, and inference. Psychological Review, 109(4), 646–678.
  • Reiter-Palmon, R., Illies, M. Y., Cross, L. K., Buboltz, C., & Nimps, T. (2009). Creativity and domain specificity: The effect of task type on multiple indexes of creative problem-solving, Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 3(2), 73–80.
    • Chapter 11, “Problem Solving and Creativity.”
    • Chapter 12, “Decision Making and Reasoning.”

The resources listed below are relevant to the topics and assessments in this course and are not required.

Sternberg, R. J., & Sternberg, K. (2012). Cognitive psychology (6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Additional Requirements

  • Written communication should be free of errors that detract from the overall message.
  • APA formatting:Resources and citations should be formatted according to APA (6th edition) style and formatting.
  • Length:5–6 double-spaced, typed pages.
  • Font and font size:Times New Roman, 12 point.


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