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PSYC431 Midterm Paper Instructions

The 6 – 8 page Midterm paper is due during Week 4 of the course.  It provides students with an opportunity to apply course concepts to a disaster occurring in the early 1900s and one of their choice.  For this paper, you will compare the psychological impact of a disaster of your choice (9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the London subway/bus bombings, the Pakistan/India earthquake, etc.) to the impact of the sinking of the R.M.S. Lusitania by a German U-boat in May, 1915, a disaster that took 1,198 civilian lives and played a significant role in our entry into World War I.  You will briefly describe your chosen disaster and public/survivor reactions to it, give a brief overview of the Lusitania disaster and describe public/survivor experiences related to it and draw comparisons between the two ( is a good encyclopedic source and several other useful resource documents on the human experience of the Lusitania incident are located in Resources tab), and then apply to the two disasters  three major psychology of disaster concepts from our course (Terror Management Theory [TMT], PTSD, Phases of Disaster Recovery, Culture as Casualty, etc.).  NOTE:  This requires reading portions of your text, reviewing articles in the Resources tab and researching, at minimum, the disaster event of your choice—this writing can’t be based on personal opinion—and, consequently, you should not wait until the week the assignment is due to begin working on it.

An example of comparing the two disasters would be: Based on what you have learned from the course text and the Resources tab, use 3 major course concepts (see some examples above) to explain the psychological reaction to 9/11 by so many Americans who did not directly experience the tragedy?  How does that reaction compare to the reaction of the public following the Lusitania disaster (e.g., there was a dramatic increase in patriotism and a push to enter the war, and “secondary survivors” experienced what today we would can PTSD).  As an alternative, you might choose to contrast the Lusitania reaction with that of those who observed residents in New Orleans who were stranded in the city and experienced deadly flooding after several levees broke.  These are two examples and you may, but are certainly not required to, use either of them.

Point saving tip:  The paper must include substantive coverage of 3 major psychology of disaster concepts–don’t just identify and describe them while devoting bulk of the work to event history and data.  You must apply the concepts to the two disasters in ways that a naive (intelligent but uninformed) reader would understand.  Be sure to include an introduction that briefly summarizes the two disasters to be discussed and a section at the end of paper that briefly summarizes the paper’s content. Please Note!  Students most often lose serious points on this assignment for two reasons–first, copying from published works which is a BIG no-no, and, second, spending too much paper time on history and incident comparisons (some students do the latter because they are more comfortable with their ability to repeat facts than with applying course concepts, but the point-penalty is the same regardless of the reason).  Additionally, you must include at least 5 source citations in APA style format both in the paper body and listed on a “References” page at the end of the paper.  You may cite your course text as one of the references, and articles from the Resources tab, the APUS Online Library and/or Internet resources (scholarly or news pieces only) where applicable.

Organize the paper with the following headings (without the numbers):

1) Lusitania Disaster * Just a summary—be careful not to get too bogged down in details here
2) <disaster of your choice> * Just a summary—again, don’t get too bogged down in details
3) Disaster Similarities and Dissimilarities * Two or three is plenty for each
4) Three Major Psychology of Disaster Concepts Applied to the Disasters * This is the meat of your paper,
     should take up at least a third of it, and must be more than just definitions — include concrete
     examples of how one can apply them to the disasters.

5) Summary  

This paper must be formatted in APA format.