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How to Write a Psychology Critique Paper
Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."
Emily is a board-certified science editor who has worked with top digital publishing brands like Voices for Biodiversity, Study.com, GoodTherapy, Vox, and Verywell.
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Critique papers require students to conduct a critical analysis of another piece of writing, often a book, journal article, or essay. No matter what your major is, you will probably be expected to write a critique paper at some point.
For psychology students, critiquing a professional paper is a great way to learn more about psychology articles, writing, and the research process itself. Students will analyze how researchers conduct experiments, interpret results, and discuss the impact of the results.
Steps for Writing an Effective Critique Paper
While these tips are designed to help students writing a psychology critique paper, many of the same principles apply to writing critiques in other subject areas as well.
Your first step should always be a thorough read-through of the material you will be analyzing and critiquing. It needs to be more than just a casual skim read—think in-depth with an eye toward key elements.
The following guideline can help you assess what you are reading and make better sense of the material.
- In addition to answering these basic questions, note other information provided in the introduction and any questions that you have.
- Remember to jot down questions and thoughts that come to mind as you are reading. Once you have finished reading the paper, you can then refer back to your initial questions and see which ones remain unanswered.
- Make note of any questions you have or any information that does not seem to make sense. You can refer back to these questions later as you are writing your final critique.
- If you agree with the researcher's conclusions, explain why. If you feel that the researchers are incorrect or off-base, point out problems with the conclusions and suggest alternative explanations.
- Another alternative is to point out questions that the researchers failed to answer in the discussion section.
Begin Writing Your Own Critique of the Paper
Once you have read the article, compile your notes and develop an outline that you can follow as you write your psychology critique paper. Here's a guide that will walk you through how to structure your critique paper.
Begin your paper by describing the journal article and authors you are critiquing. Provide the main hypothesis (or thesis) of the paper. Explain why you think the information is relevant.
The final part of your introduction should include your thesis statement. Your thesis statement is the main idea of your critique. Your thesis should briefly sum up the main points of your critique.
Provide a brief summary of the article. Outline the main points, results, and discussion.
When describing the study or paper, experts suggest that you include a summary of the questions being addressed, study participants, interventions, comparisons, outcomes, and study design.
Don't get bogged down by your summary. This section should highlight the main points of the article you are critiquing. Don't feel obligated to summarize each little detail of the main paper. Focus on giving the reader an overall idea of the content of the article.
In this section, you will provide your critique of the article. Describe any problems you had with the author's premise, methods, or conclusions. You might focus your critique on problems with the author's argument, presentation, information, and alternatives that have been overlooked.
When evaluating a study, summarize the main findings—including the strength of evidence for each main outcome—and consider their relevance to key demographic groups.
Organize your paper carefully. Be careful not to jump around from one argument to the next. Arguing one point at a time ensures that your paper flows well and is easy to read.
Your critique paper should end with an overview of the article's argument, your conclusions, and your reactions.
More Tips When Writing a Psychology Critique Paper
- As you are editing your paper, utilize a style guide published by the American Psychological Association, such as the official Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association .
- Reading scientific articles can be difficult. You might want to read up on how to read (and understand) psychology journal articles .
- Take a rough draft of your paper to your school's writing lab for additional feedback and make use of your university library's resources.
Pautasso M. Ten simple rules for writing a literature review . PLoS Comput Biol . 2013;9(7):e1003149. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003149
Gülpınar Ö, Güçlü AG. How to write a review article? Turk J Urol . 2013;39(Suppl 1):44–48. doi:10.5152/tud.2013.054
By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."
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How to Write a Psychology Critique Paper
by Antony W
June 9, 2022
Students must do a critical examination of another work of writing, typically a book, journal article, or essay, for critique papers. Regardless of your major, you will likely be required to compose a critique paper at some time.
Critique of a professional paper is an excellent approach for psychology students to learn more about psychology articles and the research process itself. Students will examine how scientists perform experiments, evaluate data, and debate the implications of the discoveries.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to write a psychology critique paper and do so with ease, even if you’ve never written a critique before.
Let’s get started.
What is a Psychology Research Paper?
Psychologist Papers is a scientific-professional journal of reviews, meta-analyses, solutions, discoveries, guidance, experiences, and practical techniques on handling difficulties and challenges emerging in professional practice in any area of Psychology.
It also serves as a solution for conflicting viewpoints and promoting discussion of contentious techniques or topics. To guarantee that the work represents the most up-to-date techniques and practical applications, all choices are made through a rigorous and anonymous review procedure.
While these guidelines are intended to assist students in writing a psychology paper evaluation, many of the same ideas also apply to writing critiques in other disciplines.
Always begin with a comprehensive reading of the information you will be examining and commenting on. This requires more than a cursory perusal. Consider reading with a keen eye on the details.
The following advice will assist you in evaluating what you are reading and making greater sense of the content.
Read the Introduction
By reading the introduction, you’ll know whether the author of the psychology paper has expressed their theory precisely. Also, you’re able to determine if the paper features background information and past research.
In addition to completing these fundamental questions, you should also take note of any additional information offered in the introduction and any questions you may have.
Read the Methods Section
Does the author describe the study’s methodology in the methods section? Can you identify the variables measured by the researchers?
Remember to write down any questions and ideas that arise as you read. Once you have completed reading the article, you can review your original questions to see which ones remain unanswered.
Read the Results Section
Are all tables and graphs in the results section correctly labeled? Did the researchers give sufficient statistical data? Did the researchers acquire all of the necessary data to measure the variables at hand?
Make a note of any queries you have and any material that seems illogical. As you write your final criticism, you can return to these questions for reference.
Read the Discussion Section
Experts recommend taking notes as you read the portions of the paper you are analyzing.
Ask yourself fundamental questions as you read this section:
- How do researchers interpret the study’s findings?
- Was their theory supported by the results?
- Do the findings of the researchers appear reasonable?
The discussion part provides students with an excellent opportunity to take a stance.
Explain why you agree with the researcher’s conclusions if you do. If you believe the researchers’ conclusions are flawed or off base, you should point out the flaws and offer alternate explanations.
Another option is to highlight questions that were not addressed by the researchers in the discussion section.
Help with Psychology Paper Critique
Do you need help with article critique writing even after reading this guide? Help for Assessment is here to help. Check out our article critique writing service here, and hire our team to help you get the work done with the shortest time possible. We guarantee high quality work submitted on time.
Write the Critique on the Psychology Paper
As soon as you have finished reading the material, consolidate your notes and create an outline to guide you as you compose your psychology review paper.
Describe the journal article and authors you are evaluating in the introduction of your paper. Provide the paper’s principal hypothesis and justify why you believe the information is significant.
Your thesis statement should be included at the end of your introduction. Your thesis statement is the central argument of your analysis. Your thesis should succinctly summarize the primary arguments of your critique.
Provide a concise overview of the article. Summarize the key points, findings, and debate.
Experts recommend including an overview of the topics being addressed, study participants, interventions, comparisons, results, and study design when discussing the study or publication.
Avoid being bogged down in your summary. This section should emphasize the article’s key arguments. Do not feel forced to describe every minor point from the major body of the article. Focus on providing the reader with an overview of the article’s substance.
Write Your Evaluation
This area will contain your analysis on the article. Describe any difficulties you encountered with the author’s premise, methodology, or conclusions. You might focus your criticism on ignored issues with the author’s argument, presentation, facts, and alternatives.
When reviewing a study, provide a summary of the significant results, including the evidence strength for each major outcome, and examine their applicability to relevant demographic groups.
Organize your paper with great care. Be cautious about jumping from one argument to another. If you argue one issue at a time, your work will flow effectively and be easy to read.
Write Your Conclusion
Your paper should conclude with a summary of the thesis of the article, your findings, and your comments.
Final Thoughts on Critiquing a Psychology Critique Paper
Utilize a style guide issued by the American Psychological Association, such as the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, while revising your manuscript.
Reading scientific journal papers can be challenging. You may choose to educate yourself on how to read and comprehend psychological journal articles.
Take a preliminary copy of your work to the writing lab at your school for further input and utilize the library’s resources.
About the author
Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.
Major steps in writing a Psychology Critique Paper
Psychology is an important subject in social sciences and to grasp deep knowledge, psychology students get a task to write a critique paper in various topics. Critique paper is categorized as a professional paper which help psychology student to learn more about psychology articles, writing, and the research process itself. In writing these papers, students can scrutinize how researchers conduct experiments, interpret results, and discuss the impact of the results. An expert take on why and how to make rationally inspiring critique papers. It is necessary to develop good critique paper in order to judge the overall assessment of a particular journal article, which in turn is a critical in standard research practice. A researcher must be able to professionally examine probable sources and evaluate their level of quality before selecting them in specific study. Also, review of journals is very important to identify both general and unusual mistakes which can be avoided when writing his research papers.
General information- A critique paper is a critical assessment of any information source such as text, media. When writing critique papers, it is necessary to evaluate strictly than just accepting that the text is well written and writing comments such as it is compelling or disappointing and not informative. All these factors do not elucidate the theme for everyone. Accordingly, student has to explain how impressive your conclusion is. The overall task in writing an analytical paper is to transform text's critical assessment into a regular judgment to expand its understanding for reader. Student must keep in mind that he has paid full attention on finding out an author's main belief. He must highlight major principles in effective way, emphasize the argument, review main issues and draw conclusion on the basis of exploration. Whether writing negative or positive critique paper, it must include a reasonable and perfect abstract of the text and suggestion of writer's own admissions and these admissions stress every evaluated statement writer make. When a student prepares critique paper, he must explain his views; scrutinize your own facts, opinions and admissions. Ultimately, writing a critique paper is a way to recognize more about self.
Critique papers are written to highlight positive and negative aspect of the issue raised in topic. Student must provide reasons for the evidence which defends his point. For example, he must admit that journal's author use statistical data to support his opinion, but unsuccessful to point out its sources. In another example, author stated fifty percents of marijuana smokers continue to use hazardous drugs; however, he did not mention how got that information. Therefore, it is not authentic to believe on his statement because his figures are not from reliable sources. It is not advisable for the readers to trust that unchecked figures because these beliefs can be the author's finding. An inference can be made that if no sources are specified, the author casts doubt on his argument. Proper way to write critique papers is to emphasize three components: writer's standpoint, evidence from the references used to develop paper and make argument through explaining reasons of proof to support writer's position.
Main steps- There are some essential steps which must be kept in mind while writing a critique. This paper must be exercised in the third person. Make certain to read paper thoroughly, keeping in mind that teachers always prefer less abstract and summary, but more investigation and scrutiny. When developing critique of any article, student must read the introduction part of the article. He must check whether the hypothesis is clearly stated or not. Whether introduction contains all needed background information and previous research. After thoroughly reviewing basic questions in introduction, student should note down information provided in the introduction and any questions he has in reading introduction. Interpret the methods section of the article and examine whether the study procedure is clearly outlined and examine which variables the researchers are measuring. While reading article, always make a note of queries arising in each section. In the results section of the article, student must focus on all tables and graphs and see how these illustration are made and labeled. Student must check in results section whether researchers present enough statistical information and the researchers gather all of the data required to assess the variables in problem. If there is any flaw or not written according professional style, just note down. The next step is to read the discussion section of the article. Student must find in the article how the researchers construe the results of the study. Whether, results are parallel with their hypothesis. A conclusion drawn by the researchers is logical or not. In the discussion section, Students gets a good chance to take a position. If he has the same opinion with the researcher's conclusions, he has to provide solid grounds for his statement. If he observers that the researcher's views stated in the paper are not convincing and not correct as per theory or off-base, indicate problems with the conclusions and propose substitute clarifications.
Writing the actual critique paper- After reading selected article deeply, construct an outline of thoughts on the article. Following guide will assist structure of critique paper:
First of all, research for good title. It must be an effectual representative of the full article or study. It must include the most pertinent and widely used terms and thoughts used in the article and contain proper words as needed in order to communicate the relationship among those terms and ideas. Therefore, the title explains effectiveness of an exacting method in teaching must contain the name of that method, the subject area that it is applied to, and the students that are subjected to it. Good title should not deceive the reader into expecting more than what is really inside the article. In general, title should be convincing and contain full information of what is being tested.
The first and most important part of critique paper is introduction. This part includes the author name, title, and source alongside with the publication date. Student must write the short critique abstract, then coming up to thesis statement. Start writing paper by explaining the article and authors which is critiquing. A good abstract must explain briefly the whole study. In order to compose abstract, only chosen parts of the study's structure should be included in the abstract with one or two sentences devoted to each part. The correct abstract is that which introduce the topic well, portray the methodology, reveal the general results and draw conclusions based on the results. Students who are writing abstract first time must know that the abstract is the summary of the study for the reader without having to investigate into its complicated details. Student must provide the major hypothesis or thesis of the paper and give details why you believe the information is appropriate.
The next step of writing critique paper is development of Thesis Statement. While writing a critique; student can use 3-5 items to look after his thesis statement. In order to choose correct thesis statement, he may clear the query recommended alongside the text. Also, refer statement from the paper to demonstrate the subject which students are stating by its paraphrasing or direct quoting. In last part of introduction, student should include thesis statement. Remember, thesis statement is the main thought of critique.
After writing good introduction, student must present a concise review of the article, highlighting main thoughts and points, results and discussion. It is essential to give the background of the study to initiate new research. All earlier noteworthy conclusions made by other articles prior to the study must have been revealed and included in the study's review of associated literature. This is to guarantee that the study is not a simple idleness of another study that the researcher simply botched to find out in his readings. The literature review must also be satisfactory so that the reader can comprehend basic facts of the study by drawing from its relationship to other studies done before it. It is important to mention relevant information and edited all facts which do not related to the study. The method used to get results for a particular study must be valid, that is it must match to existing procedural norms for the particular area being researched on. It must also be reliable, which means that it should be the suitable method to be used given the demands of the study.
While writing result section, student must be very cautious. He must write results in well organized way. Tables and graphs must be used as needed. Do not include unnecessary tables to make paper fragile. Tables and graphs should be such that the reader must make comparisons between figures easily by referring to both tabular and figure-based data. It is not necessary to show that the results must be the product of following the proper methodologies described in the previous chapter exactly.
In analysis section, student should present his assessment of the article. Explain any problems which student had with the author's principle, methods, or conclusions. Analysis must focus on problems with the author's disagreement, presentation, or on information and substitutes that have been ignored. Describe all the arguments in concise manner so that reader easily understand critic part and gain knowledge.
The last of critique paper is conclusion. It is again very important part of paper. In this part, student can recapitulate his main opinions, reshape thesis statement using modified words and judge the author's achievement or fail to convince the reader. Critique paper should finish with a general idea of the articles disagreement, student's conclusions and his responses. The conclusions must be review briefly the results and the result's implications as based on the background of the study. The background of a study is considered the foundation and the results the argument, together leading to the conclusion which should provide the answer to the study's aims.
Critique paper is frequently written by psychology students to broaden their knowledge about subject and carry out further research. It is highly recommended to follow correct format and update information with recent development. It will helps student to develop their skill of writing and understanding profoundly about the subject.
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How to Critique an Article (Psychology)
- The introduction is a justification for why the study was conducted.
- By the end of the introduction you should have a very good idea of what the researchers are going to study, and be convinced that the study is absolutely necessary to advance the field.
- The justification should be a combination of improving on previous research and good theoretical reasons and practical reasons for why the study is important.
- If the authors are talking about a controversial issue, are they presenting both sides in a reasonable way? Is their choice of one side over the other based on hard evidence?
- Do you understand what their hypotheses are e.g. what they expect to find?
- It is not good enough just to say that the study has not been done before. There are plenty of topics that have not been scientifically researched before but that doesn't mean that they should be. For example, I doubt that anyone has ever looked at the correlation between favorite color of Skittles and personality, but that doesn't mean that it should be researched unless there is a good theoretical reason for why we would expect a relationship and a good reason to think that knowing the relationship would advance our understanding of personality in some meaningful way.
- Last Updated: Nov 5, 2021 9:46 AM
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Psychology Journal Critique Paper Example
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- Author Sandra W.
Hopker, Foad, Beedie, Coleman, & Leech (2010) performed a study to determine how conditioned stimuli affect subsequent response to unconditioned stimuli. They used a placebo to act as conditioned analgesia to show how it affected subsequent analgesic response, which they coupled with an individual’s expectations of outcome of the interventions; positive outcome is expected if a person holds positive beliefs and vice versa (Hopker, Foad, Beedie, Coleman, & Leach, 2010).
The researchers applied their theory in sports medicine to show how a placebo analgesic affected the pain endurance after an injury. previous studies have demonstrated that a person’s expectation of relief from pain has the ability to modify how effective an administered substance is, whether it is an inactive placebo or an active analgesic. persons informed about placebo as inactive experience no pain relief even if they had demonstrated decreased pain on previous trials when they had no knowledge about the placebo deception., hopker et al wanted to find out if there is relationship between the outcomes of therapy in sports environment and an individual’s expectation; they used a placebo muscle gel to treat muscle pain that they induced experimentally. they hypothesized that if they linked application of the gel with the expectation of reducing pain, they would require a higher level of pain stimuli to elicit a certain pain response in placebos than that in controls., hopker et al had to adhere to ethical standards of deception in research because use of a placebo involves deception about the therapeutic effects of a substance; otherwise, the expected outcome is not achievable. they would inform the participants about it after they collected all data and would perform a medical exam to rule out any condition that would interfere with the outcome., they chose twenty-four people, eight female and sixteen males who were in the university between the ages of 16 to 25. pain induced artificially in the range used during electrotherapy, one pole on superior part of gastrocnemius and the other on inferior part, and the frequency set high to avoid involuntary contraction of muscles and increased gradually to make it easy to assess the level of stimulation. they did the experiments five times over five weeks using the same leg with the other as control then reversed later on. the level of stimulation required to elicit a 6 to 10 pain level on visual analog scale was the dependent variable., the researchers informed the participants that the first test was to identify adverse effects in the procedure but the true aim was linking the inert gel that was the unconditioned stimulus, to pain reduction, the conditioned response. they first determined the perceived pain rating of 6/10 by the participants then application of a placebo made of ultrasound transmission gel with added camphor oil for olfactory stimulation and informed the participants it was an analgesic used by professional sportsmen and reduced muscle pain., after that, the pain stimulation introduced again but decreased by 20% though the participants informed it was the same level as before in order to create a false impression of reduced pain because of the placebo. the level of stimulation for a pain scale of 6/10 was set in the baseline trials. in subsequent tests, the participants allowed to set the level of stimulation that elicited pain scale of 6/10 to provide a baseline then the placebo applied and the procedure repeated on the experimental and control legs, different from those used during the first trial; they then repeated baseline after intervention., there was significant effect obtained after placebo gel application as opposed to control conditions; after placebo application, the pain threshold rose by 8.2%. difference also seen with the same leg first used as control then as placebo leg, significant difference between the changes in pain threshold at post baseline when compared with placebo condition but no difference noted in the baseline and control., the results were consistent with the hypothesis of the researchers because they demonstrated that using a placebo subsequently reduced the pain experienced in placebo leg as opposed to control and giving the participants positive expectations that the placebo had been effective before among professional sportsmen increased its therapeutic effects. the results also showed that the effects of the placebo are specific and not generalized because effect was seen in placebo leg only and not the control. the method they used of starting first with the placebo leg then the control was appropriate as it helped compare the two and note any difference in the level of stimulation required in both legs., however, it would have been good to know if the placebo could act alone without giving positive expectations to be sure that the placebo acted as true conditioned stimuli as opposed to the effects resulting from expectancy alone, this is because the participants’ knowledge about the expected effects affected the magnitude of the placebo response. one way of doing it would be introducing negative beliefs in one group of the participants and positive beliefs in another., another approach would be giving an active substance in one group and a placebo in the other and use real injured sportsmen as opposed to introducing the pain experimentally so that the results would have more ecological value. this would have allowed determination of whether the active agent and the placebo achieved the same level of pain threshold. the study successfully proved non-therapeutic substance conditioned to achieve effects similar to those of the real substance is possible (hopker, foad, beedie, coleman, & leach, 2010)., reference hopker, j. g., foad, a. j., beedie, c. j., coleman, d. a., & leach, g. (2010). placebo effect of an inert gel on experimentally. open access journal of sports medicine, 215-220., recent posts.
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Psychological Criticism Approach With Examples
Let us understand what is Psychological approach?
This approach is a unique way of criticizing because it draws on psychological ideas in its interpretation of the text. Linking the psychological and literary worlds brings a kind of scientific aspect to written criticism.
5 Perspectives of Psychological Approach
Now let us discuss the key perspectives in psychological:
The five major perspectives in psychology are:
The biological theory states that all thoughts, feelings and behavior ultimately have a biological cause. It is one of the most important psychological goals and involves such things as the study of the brain, genes, hormones, and immune and nervous systems. Biological factors such as chromosomes, hormones, and the brain all have a profound effect on human behavior, for example, sex. Descriptive psychologists describe behavior in terms of the senses, i.e., physiology and brain structure and how this influences behavior.
Psychodynamic has many expressions in our daily lives that come from Freud’s ideas of psychoanalysis – ignorance, denial, oppression and the personality of the buttocks to name just a few.
Behaviors are different in many ways because they view humans and animals as being controlled by their environment and in particular that we are the result of what we have learned in our environment. The behavior of a behaviorist is about how environmental factors affect physical behavior.
Cognitive Psychology focuses on the idea that if we want to know what makes people nervous then the way to do it is to find out what processes are actually happening in their minds. In other words, psychologists from this perspective are researching the action of the ‘mind’ process or the process by which information is acquired. Cognitive perception is about “mental” functions such as memory, perception, attention etc. It views people as computers in the way we use data (e.g., Input-process-output). For example, both the human brain and computers process data, store data, and process and install.
Humanistic is a psychological concept that emphasizes the study of the whole (known as holism). Human psychologists look at human behavior, not just with the eyes of the beholder, but with the eyes of the human being.
Psychologists believe that a person’s character is linked to his inner feelings and self-esteem. The human view suggests that each of us is responsible for our own happiness and well-being as human beings.
Examples of Psychological Criticism:
1. The author herself had experienced the traumatic on her early childhood when she lost her mother in an accident. This traumatic experience would influence on her writing and one can interpret in her poems with this in mind. (Trauma does not stand so much on it’s own as it is linked to psychoanalysis. The unconscious desires, perhaps influenced by trauma, of an author are the true meanings underlying all of their work.)
2. At times poem suggests that the narrator simply cannot forget his childhood experience of listening to his mother play the piano because it is an unforgettable and touching experience for the narrator. Psychological criticism allows for a careful analysis of literary texts through the use of concepts in psychology.
3. The Lion King example, when Simba loses his father he shows classic signs of depression and loneliness with fear in his mind.
Home » Language » English Language » Literature » What is Psychological Criticism in Literature
What is Psychological Criticism in Literature
In the field of literature, the term criticism refers to the analysis, evaluation, and interpretation of a literary text. In simple words, it examines what is good and bad about a work and why is it good or bad. A criticism also connects the content of a literary work to different concepts and theories presented by different critics. To read more about different literary theories and how to write a literary criticism, see
How to Write a Literary Criticism
Psychological criticism in literature refers to the way in which the work of a particular writer is analyzed through a psychological lens. This approach psychologically analyses the author of the work or a character in his work. It helps the readers understand the motivations of the writer as well as the characters. In other words, this criticism helps us to understand why the writer writes the way he does, how have his biographical circumstances affect his writing and why do characters in the story behave in a particular way.
For example, suppose the protagonist in the story is a murderer; evaluating the psychological state, the past of the character might help the reader to understand why he became a murderer. This criticism approach can explore the writer’s motivations in selecting this subject and how his past has influenced his choice. For instance, being aware that the writer was a victim of a violent crime may cause the reader to interpret the story very differently.
This psychological approach, which reflects the effect of psychology on both literature and literary criticism, was mainly influenced by the work of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Sigmund Freud put forward the theory that literary texts are a manifestation of the secret unconscious desires and anxieties of the author. Thus, evaluating the behavior of a character will help the reader to trace the childhood, family life, fixations, traumas, conflicts. However, these facts are not directly expressed in the work; they are often expressed indirectly in the form of dreams, symbols, and images. Therefore, this criticism may sometimes provide the readers clues to understand the symbols , actions, and settings that are otherwise difficult to understand.
The psychological criticism is not concerned with the intentions of the author. Instead, it is more concerned with what writer never intended, i.e., what the writer has unconsciously included in the work.
Carl Jung explored the link between literature and a concept called ‘collective unconscious of the human race.’ This theory claims that all stories and symbols are based on models from mankind’s past. Jung was the first to link the concept archetype to literature.
However, extreme care has to be taken when using this criticism to evaluate a work because it can become reductive in nature. The person who analyses this work should be careful so as not to project any personal psychological issues onto the analysis. When researching the biographical history of the writer, the critic must be careful to avoid incorrect attributions.
- Psychological criticism in literature is the psychological analysis of motivations of the author and his work.
- This criticism is based on the theory that author’s physiological state is unconsciously reflected in different aspects of the work such as characters, symbols, setting, and language .
“ The Passion of Creation Leonid Pasternak By Leonid Pasternak (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
About the Author: Hasa
Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.
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Literature Review On Psychological Criticism Examples
Type of paper: Literature Review
Topic: Literature , Psychology , Mind , Fish , Criticism , Poem , Poetry , Theory
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Readings: The poems used for the lesson plan are namely: “America” by Claude McKay, “The Fish” by Elizabeth Bishop and “Coal” by Audre Lore. Objective of lesson: Psychological criticism in literature observes the text and the author. The symbolism used in the writing is scrutinized and observed as workings of the human mind that are for interpretation. These writings are analyzed according to the author and the characters of the literary piece. This kind of approach uses theories of those in the field of psychology. Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis is often used in literary criticism. His theories are those concerning the unconscious mind, having power over thoughts and actions. The three poems that are analyzed relate to this type of theory because they portray how the authors see themselves. In order to be able to apply this kind of theory and criticism to a literary piece, it is essential that you understand the basics of the Freudian theory. There are three main ideas that need to be tackled in order for the psychological criticism to be used: - The unconscious mind is above all - Actions, thoughts, language and images are expressions of the unconscious mind - Sexual desire plays a big role in human behavior Description of assignment: He uses theories and techniques for dream interpretation to criticize literary texts. This type of criticism and theory allowed people to understand how wonderful the human mind really is. These theories can be seen in the poems described below. Most of the authors are seen to have issues with how they perceive themselves. Using Freudian theory, the poems can be scrutinized according to the images and language that they portray. Choose on poem and see how it relates to the theory of the unconscious mind. Method of assessment: Students will be assessed on how well they analyze a literary piece using Freudian theory. The unconscious mind can be seen through the author’s use of language, imagery and characters. The deeper the student tries to dissect meaning through literary forms in the piece, the better the criticism will be.
“America” by Claude McKay
This piece by Claude McKay is a very vivid poem. He speaks of the land America and is torn between love and hate for the country. McKay provides deep personification for the land, as well as using several similes all throughout the piece. The imagery in this piece of literature can be related to the Freudian theory because of the anger and emotion of the writer. Applying the psychological theory for criticism in this piece was a challenge because it is so short. The brief words from the author do not allow for a long dissection of the poem. The poem is very angry and full of emotion. The author’s anger came from his ethnic background – being a Jamaican living in America. You can claim that this is what the author feels about himself and the land he lives in. Passionate feelings are a mix of positive and negative light in this poem. You can see that the author speaks of America, seeing the land in a female form. Or, from Freudian perspective, giving it motherly characteristics. It is safe to assume that the author feels the same way about how he was brought into this world. His feelings towards his mother may be evoked by how he sees America as a land. The land can be compared to a mother. He feels that his mothers (America’s) affection towards him are not how he wishes. He states that she does feed him, yet with “bread of bitterness” (McKay 1). This might mean that he believes he is only brought to life or raised out of obligation. The first three lines is how he attests of the hate of the land for him, yet he claims that he has “love [for] this cultured hell” (McKay 7). This poem might be the actions of thoughts of McKay’s unconscious mind towards his own mother.
“The Fish” by Elizabeth Bishop
The Fish by Elizabeth Bishop was a good read, and out of the three was easier to relate to the Freudian theory. Automatically, you can see that the characters in the poem related to each other. The fisherman, which is the main character, comes across a fish that he could relate to in terms of obstacles in life. This poem was a bit more difficult to criticize because it was more of a story. You have to remember that the author is Bishop, and not the fisherman in the story. Before finishing the entire poem, I tried to analyze the fisherman and who he might have represented in the life of the author. However, this might not have been the case in this story. The author might be represented in the fish, instead of the fisherman. If we assume that the fisherman in this poem is the father of the author, we can say that the author might have had a deeper connection with her father as compared to her mother. In the poem, it can be assumed that the fish tries to compare itself to the fisherman, but they have differences. This can be seen in the Electra complex used in Jung’s theory. The fish can relate to the fisherman, yet she sees that they are not all the same. The fish is looking for acceptance in the fisherman and would want to be released. A form of release in the poem is literal – that the fisherman would let the fish go. Nearing the end of the poem, we see that the fisherman exclaims “Rainbow!” (Bishop 36). In literature, this can mean a lot of things. Rainbow can symbolize a new beginning, new hope of even a cleansing of nature. This might mean a new light for the author. However, the rainbow in the poem is seen from an oil spill near the engine of the boat (Bishop 30). This renewal might have been caused by negativity or untoward circumstances. The author still might not have been satisfied with her relationship with her father, yet feels that it is time to let go.
“We Real Cool” by Gwendolyn Brooks
Freudian theory states that the unconscious actions of people can be traced from their childhood. This poem by Brooks is an interesting one because of the way it is set up. The way in which the poem is written suggests that the characters in the poem are young boys, who are trying to be cool. Being monosyllabic in use of words, the poem might suggest that the characters were not educated. They try to play cool because they are insecure with themselves, and even with their background (Brooks 10). The Freudian theory speaks of the unconscious mind dictating actions or words. We can see that the insecurities of the boys in the poem was because of their unconscious insecurities. The boys in this poem are trying to cover up their lack of education by trying to be cool. They think that being delinquents is the way to go because they feel that they are being oppressed by society. Written during a time where this was what happened to young kids of color, it is no surprise that the poem was written in such a way. The poem is written in a way where the characters suggest that they are old enough to support themselves. However, coming from the socially oppressed area that they probably lived in, they will turn to illegal opportunities in order to support their families. This poem was slightly more difficult to analyze because it is shorter and not much detail is given.
Claude McKay. “America”. Poem Hunter. Web. 4 March 2013. http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/america-2/ Elizabeth Bishop. “The Fish”. Poem Hunter. Web 4 March 2013. http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-fish/ Gwendolyn Brooks. “We Real Cool”. Poem Hunter. Web. 4 March 2013. http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/we-real-cool/
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The Tell-Tale Heart Psychological Analysis & Critique
Looking for The Tell-Tale Heart psychological analysis? This term paper focuses on the themes, symbolism, and point of view in the short story by Edgar Allan Poe. It also reviews the mental disorder that the narrator suffers from.
- Literary Analysis
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The Tell-Tale Heart is one of the most famous works by Edgar Poe. The outstanding character in the tale, who is also the narrator, attracts a lot of attention from the readers. The character reveals much about human nature and other self qualities that people tend to overlook.
Themes of death, egoism, and evil are found in most of Poe’s works. The same case applies to The Tell-Tale Heart as evidenced by the analysis in this paper. The analysis focuses on the main character and narrator of The Tell-Tale Heart. The analysis is conducted from a psychological approach.
There are various forms of literary psychological criticism. In this paper, the author uses the Freudian psychological approach to analyse Poe’s work. The narrator forms the basis of the tale. All the themes in the story revolve around them.
The literary critique explores the themes of death, ego, and evil as reflected in Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart . The themes of ego and evil are featured prominently in this critical review.
The two contribute immensely to the narrator’s actions. The literary criticism of the tale seeks to answer the question of human ego-evil relationship and associated psychological justifications. Freud’s psychological approach serves in analysing the narrator’s actions towards the old man.
The Tell-Tale Heart Summary
Edgar Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart tale adopts the first person perspective. The main character also assumes the role of the narrator. He begins the story by arguing that they are sane and not mad as people are saying.
The narrator says, “True!- nervous -very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses- not destroyed -not dulled them” (Poe par. 1). However, Poe does not tell the reader whether the narrator is a male or a female. The usage of the connotation ‘He’ does not describe definite gender of the narrator, but just as an assumption.
The narrator admits that they are sick. However, they insist that the disease has sharpened their senses. The disease has not made them mad. In a bid to prove their sanity to the audience, the narrator embarks on the story. The events told in the story take place in a house where the narrator lives with an old man as a companion. The narrator claims that they loved the old companion very much.
As such, they did not have any reason or desire to kill him, not even for his money. The narrator reveals that they loved the old man. They were in good terms with the old man, and the narrator was not interested in stealing from him (Poe par. 2).
However, it appears that the old man had a deformed eye that instigated the narrator to commit the murder. In fact, if it were not for the eye, the story would have been very different. It follows then that the narrator has a motive to kill the old man.
Consequently, they scheme on how to execute the heinous crime. For seven consecutive nights, they stalked the companion throughout. They went to the extent of intensifying their affection for him to keep him close. On the eighth night, an opportunity presented itself and the narrator killed the old man.
The act of murder execution proceeds with extreme caution and the body concealment. However, a last minute shriek by the old man, or probably the excited yell of the narrator, changed the events. The arrival of police officers to the scene immediately after the crime attests to this.
The police arrived to a warm welcome from the narrator. Their arrival, they attribute to a scream they had been alerted to having emanated from the house. The police search the entire building but find nothing. Eventually, the narrator invited the two police officers into the deceased old man’s bedroom for a chat.
While there, however, the narrator imagined hearing the old man’s heartbeat. The heartbeat got louder and louder as the narrator and the two police officers chatted away in the bedroom. Finally, the imaginary noise freaked the narrator out. Eventually admits to having killed the old man, and in proof of his crime shows the police officers where he hid the dismembered body.
The Tell-Tale Heart Literary Analysis
Plot: psychological journey.
Poe adopts a very interesting approach in writing the story. The main character, who also performs the heinous murderous act, tells the story. As a result, we assume the story is a confession. The confession is evident given that even the narrator insists they can prove their sanity to the audience.
The location of the story remains unclear. However, an analysis of the story creates the impression that the location is a courtroom. Such an assumption looks fair given that the court could have declared the narrator to be of unsound mind. The story ends with the narrator revealing to the police officers where he hid the body. As such, it is likely that they are making the confession while under arrest.
The Tell-Tale Heart Themes
Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart story is riddled with a number of themes. The numbers of themes vary depending on the analytical approach chosen to review the story. As already indicated, the current analysis relies on the psychological approach of literary critique. Hence, from the perspective of this approach, it appears that several themes are apparent in the story.
The main themes in the story include ego, murder, evil, obsession, insanity, and guilt. Others include reality viewpoints, justification, time, and cleverness. The themes of evil, ego, murder and insanity are very dominant in the story.
From the start of the story, the narrator insists on being sane. Consequently, the narrator details their heinous crime to prove their sanity. Even after the detailed narration, the narrator still insists on their sanity. They insist that they took a lot of precautions to cover their tracks, something that can only be done by a sane man (Poe par. 8).
In a number of instances, the narrator reminds the audience how cleverly they executed the murder. The assertion is evident when they claim, “You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded –with what caution –with what foresight –with what dissimulation I went to work!” (Poe par. 3).
Despite the frantic effort to convince his sanity, the narrator falls under Freud’s psychic zone of id. The id zone has a number of distinct characteristics. It is characterised by an excitement that is disorganized and lacks will. It is an impulsive drive that is aimed at satisfying the instincts and pleasures of the individual (Freud 103).
About the theme of murder, the narrator’s motive is amusing, if not ridiculous. The ‘admitted motive’ is evident when the narrator says that the old man had the eye of a vulture. They describe it as “a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees –very gradually –I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever” (Poe par. 2).
The execution of the heinous crime is almost perfect. The narrator leaves no trace behind. However, their confession raises doubts about their sanity. It is clear that the narrator is a ruthless murderer, considering how they killed and dismembered the old man’s body for concealment.
The theme of obsession, and in some part that of guilt, is apparent from the beginning of the story. The desire to murder the old man increases whenever the narrator sees his deformed eye. It appears the narrator is obsessed with the deformed eye. The obsession to murder the old man based on his bad eye intensifies when the narrator sees him in bed.
The narrator does not exhibit obvious psychological motives. However, killing the old man based on the feelings the eye stirs in them is an indication of a possible motive. Indeed, motives for individual actions arise from thoughts, feelings, and fantasies. The narrator fantasises killing the old man, revealing this aspect of human thinking in the process.
Such an obsession and the narrator’s erratic behaviour, together with how they narrate the story, leave no doubt that they are insane. In fact, the narrator believes that the heartbeat of the dead old man nearly drove them insane to the extent of confessing to the crime. They describe how they shrieked and showed the police where they had hidden the body (Poe par. 10).
The Tell-Tale Heart Character Analysis
The story has six major characters. They include narrator, the old man (who ends up as the victim), the neighbour, and the three police officers. However, the story revolves more around the narrator and the old man than it does around the other characters.
In fact, one can argue that the narrator and the old man are the main characters. The other four are just supporting characters. Poe is not clear on the identity of the narrator’s audience. It is not clear whom the narrator is trying to convince with the confession.
The Tell-Tale Heart Narrator
Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart revolves a lot around human nature. Human nature is made evident from the narrator’s viewpoint. The narrator is very confident in the execution of the heinous crime. They are confident enough to confess about the same. The desire to prove their sanity is even more intriguing. As a result, the narrator creates a picture of self-worthiness, self-conviction, and lack of remorse.
The narration turns out to be a perfect rhetoric in relation to the narrator. From the beginning to the end of the story, the narrator makes the reader view their deeds with contempt a number of times. Perhaps, as Zimmerman puts it, The Tell-Tale Heart is in real sense a form of courtroom rhetoric-judicial. It is a form of forensic oratory (Zimmerman Frantic Forensic Oratory 34).
The narrator appears determined to convince someone with his or her confession. The determination is evident when they insist that mad men know nothing (Poe par. 3). The narrator’s reference to “you” clearly shows that they are addressing someone else.
Perhaps the narrator is writing to or conversing with this ‘you’. The narrator tries to persuade and guide the audience to their point of view. Essentially, it is clear that the narrator has already confessed to the crime. They have already shown the police the body before their confession (Poe par. 10).
The narrator is defending themselves in the story. They do not regard the heinous act with any remorse or contempt. From this analysis, one can argue that the story reveals one major aspect of human nature that is inherent to many individuals. Generally, many people tend to overlook their individual flaws and faults. They may do everything in their power to cover up these flaws and faults (Bonaparte 32).
Ki points out the theme of “ego-evil”, which underlies the ‘main’ human nature highlighted in the narration (25). By definition, ego-evil refers to human behaviour that is, according to Zizek (70), driven by the desire for selfish gains and greed.
Such behaviour is very apparent concerning the conduct of the narrator. When one disregards the sanity of the narrator, which they seem to assert loudly, a sensible motive for their action is lost. In the words of the narrator, the old man had not done anything to anger them, “I loved the old man. He had never wronged me” (Poe par. 2).
From the discourse above, it is apparent that associating the narrator with ego-evil behaviour is logical. In essence, the narrator’s actions are motivated by some form of ideological ideal. The actions also emanate from their fanatical devotion (Ki 25).
The narrator’s egocentrism is apparent in their ‘over-identification’ with the views they hold. Such a trait on the part of the narrator ultimately leads to a form of “narcissistic ‘denigradation’ of others and violation of human laws” (Zizek 70).
The narrator claims killing the old man due to his bad eye. In essence, the narrator admits the old man’s vulture eye is what made them commit the offense (Poe par. 2). Such an explanation tells a lot about the narrator’s state of mind. Regarding the old man’s eye as identical to that of a vulture gives the narrator the motivation they need to commit the crime.
With such an attitude, they could easily kill the man without any remorse. As such, the narrator judged the old man based on personal affections, rather than on truth. Ki (25) explains this behaviour from a psychological perspective.
According to Ki (25), an intentional misjudgement of another person is an indication of the shortcomings of the self. It means that the self lacks insight (Ki 25). Killing the old man would rid the narrator the ‘torturing’ eye. Such an explanation appears valid from a psychological perspective.
The narrator is a true representation of ‘self-misrepresentation’. Their character also shows the narrator has ‘misdirected’ sense of self-worth and self-righteousness. Both of these aspects are blown out of proportion concerning the narrator. From the onset of the narrative, the persona appears determined to point out their strengths, which are in doubt.
In their narration, the persona says that the disease has only made their senses shaper. They claim to have heard things from heaven and from earth. According to them, this is proof enough that they are sane and not mad (Poe par. 1).
The narrator’s sense of self is terrible, especially with regards to their senses. Such a convoluted sense of self leads to another conclusion. The conclusion is that the narrator is psychotic. The psychotic nature of the narrator is the first impression created in the mind of the reader at the beginning of the narrative. However, the narrator endeavours to prove otherwise in the narrative.
Further analysis of the narration reveals that the persona is a ‘self-positing’ individual. They try to create the impression of an individual who is very right. They claim that they discovered their powers on that night. They were so happy when they discovered how intelligent they are (Poe par. 4). Such a ‘perception of self’ means that the narrator likes to exercise their powers on others.
Perceptions of own power, triumph, and sagacity also portray the narrator as a person who likes to dominate the helpless. The old man was asleep and half-blind due to the darkness and his bad eye, yet the narrator was triumphant of killing him. Pitcher (232) portrays the narrator in Poe’s tale as someone living in a universe where the self is the only god that exists.
Eventually, it is apparent that the narrator fails miserably to convince the audience of their sanity or self-importance. According to Melville (34), the narrator appears to fully understand the various techniques of argument. They are trying desperately to convince the audience.
Initially, the narrator indicates that they are aware of what the audience thinks of them. The narrator is aware that the audience considers them as a hostile, nervous, and lunatic person. Because of this awareness, the narrator attempts to win over the good will of whoever is listening to them.
The narrator lodges an appeal to the audience’s sense of reason to mitigate the hostility directed towards them. Such an appeal is also aimed at making the audience more receptive. The narrator tells the audience that they wish they were there when they were committing the offense. The audience, according to the narrator, would have seen for themselves how efficient and wise they (the narrator) are (Poe par. 3).
The narrator strategically makes use of concession as a means of ethical appeal. They try to impress the audience by proving that they can make frank confessions. They create the impression that they are a good person with a strong and confident streak. They try to prove that they can confidently concede and nullify opposing points of view.
The nature of Poe’s character in the story can be summed up from John Claggart’s psychoanalysis perspective (as cited in Melville). Thus, “the narrator’s even temper and discerning bearing would seem to point to an individual peculiarly exposed to the law of reason” ( Melville 76). The narrator has little or nothing to do with reason.
Conclusion According to Zimmerman ( Moral Insanity or Paranoid Schizophrenia? 42), Poe effectively maintains an objective distance in telling the story and watches as the reader tackles the etiological irony that follows. Poe uses rhetoric consciously and deliberately in most of his homicidal tales. He also engages in irony in most of his arguments. Most of Poe’s characters try to justify their actions using ‘reasonable’ excuses that are not so ‘reasonable’. Such an approach is apparent in The Tell-Tale Heart story.
Bonaparte, Marie. The Life and Works of Edgar Allan Poe: A Psycho-Analytic Interpretation, London: Hogarth P., 1949. Print.
Freud, Sigmund. Dream Psychology: Psychoanalysis for Beginners, New York: James A. McCann Co., 1920. Print.
Ki, Magdalen. “ Ego-Evil and the Tell-Tale Heart. ” Renascence 61.1 (2008): 25-38. Print.
Melville, Herman. Billy Budd, Sailor, Chicago: University of Chicago, 1962. Print.
Pitcher, Edward. “The physiognomical meaning of Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart.” Studies in Short Fiction 16.3 (1979): 231-233. Print.
Poe, Edgar 1922, The Tell-Tale Heart . Web. < http://www.poemuseum.org/the-tell-tale-heart >.
Zimmerman, Brett. “Frantic Forensic Oratory: Poe’s ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’.” Style 35.1 (2001): 34-49. Print.
—. “Moral Insanity or Paranoid Schizophrenia: Poe’s ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’.” Mosaic 25 (1992): 39-48. Print.
Zizek, Slavoj. Looking Awry, Cambridge: MIT, 1991. Print.
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IvyPanda . 2022. "The Tell-Tale Heart Psychological Analysis & Critique." June 14, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/literary-criticism-of-edgar-poes-the-tell-tale-heart-from-a-psychological-approach-term-paper/.
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