Identify how biological and social factors might explain pathological gambling

3RD YEAR UNIVERSITY UNDERGRADUATE ESSAY:
Critically appraise and provide a well structured argument on the two broad theoretical approaches to Personality:
1. Biological basis of personality (including genetics)
2. Social basis of personality
Use only peer-reviewed journal articles (12 – 15 sources)

Examples of Journal articles include:
Slutske, W. S., Zhu, G., Meier, M. H., & Martin, N. G. (2010). Genetic and environmental influences on disordered gambling in men and women. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 67(6), 624-630.

Eisen, S. A., Lin, N., Lyons, M. J., Scherrer, J., Griffith, K., True, W. R., Goldberg, J., & Tsuang, M. T. (1998). Familial influences on gambling behavior: An analysis of 3,359 twin pairs. Addiction, 93 (9), 1375-1384.

Blum , K., Sheridan, P. J., Wood, R. C., Braverman, E. R., Chen, D. J. H., Cull, J. G., & Comings, D. E. (1996). The D2 dopamine receptor gene as a determinant of reward deficiency syndrome. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 89, (396-400).

PLEASE READ: Lecturer’s Advice on Essay:
You need to argue the evidence not a point of view. I’m not interested in what opinions students hold on this question. The evidence suggests that both social and biological(including genetic) factors need to be taken into account when explaining human conduct. That is the position you need to argue.

It is always better to assert a position rather than passively summarising the literature. Summary is alright at the start of an essay when outlining the main issues and providing context – but once you start getting down to core business it is almost always good practice to state, up front, what you believe the literature indicates and then defend your position. When you state your position up front it puts the reader in a position to evaluate the quality of your argument. This in turn forces you as a writer into a higher level of critique – you are now obliged to justify a position: Why does the evidence support your position? Why should I, as a reader, place less emphasis on the evidence that does not support your position? The lazy option is what I call the Agatha Christie Ploy – which involves simply summarising the evidence and then revealing a conclusion at the end of the essay. Usually the conclusion is some trite thing about how all the various theories discussed have merit and psychology needs to integrate them all into one happy theory. This approach relies on keeping the reader ignorant for as long as possible – in the hope that any holes in the plot might be missed. There is an intellectual cowardice here that first year students might get away with – but at the third year level I would expect students to be arguing hard on the available evidence.

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