PSYC 236 Personality: Choosing a Person/Topic

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Last Updated: Sep 4, 2018 11:48 PM

Things to Consider

1. Choose the Right Person

When choosing a person or topic for your personality assessment, you want to ensure that there is enough published information on that individual; otherwise, the research portion of your project will be unnecessarily time-consuming and frustrating.

2. Living or Deceased?

It is often easier to find information on deceased persons as obituaries can be a rich source of information; however, in today's media culture the volume of news pieces and interviews published on celebrities and other notable individuals can offer a viable solution if you are researching someone who's still alive. Decide first if you want to rely on reflective, published sources (deceased person) or work through current interviews and news pieces (living person) – both are appropriate options, it's more a matter of personal preference.

3. Area of Notability

People can be famous for all sorts of things; think carefully about where your interests lie. For instance, you may choose to research a business leader, politician, music icon, movie star, historical figure, famous author, or more. Knowing the area of notability you are interested in can help you choose an appropriate subject for your assignment.

Choosing a Person via the Library Catalog

Published biographies and autobiographies can be great sources of information as they tend to be more detailed than article-based sources and paint a fuller picture about a person's life.

Begin your search in the RIT Libraries Catalog.

Add d:(biography) or d:(case studies) to the start of your search to find all books that have been tagged as being biographies/case studies. Then, include an occupation or area of renown to your search (e.g. musicians) – you will want to include the plural form of your search term when appropriate for the best results (e.g. legislators, not legislator). For example: d:(biography) business or d:(case studies) murderers

Choosing a Person via American National Biography

American National Biography contains nearly 20,000 detailed biographies of notable American men and women. The biographies are written by academics in the field and can be a great source of information for your project.

Click the "Occupations" option to the left of the search box to browse biographies by occupation (e.g. Law and Crime). Or, use the "Occupations" filter on the left-hand side of the search results to limit yourself to a more specific occupation (e.g. manager in the music industry).

Using Other Web Sources

Wikipedia maintains a myriad of lists, including lists of notable individuals organized by profession. This can be a great starting point for identifying individuals of interest. Remember, many professors will not accept Wikipedia as a reliable source of information. A good Wikipedia article provides sources for the information included in the entry – use the entry's References and Further Reading sections to identify appropriate sources for your project.

Google Books is another great way to identify biographies written on notable individuals. Try adding subject:"Biography & Autobiography" to your search along with an occupation/area of renown (e.g. figure skating) to find individuals of interest.

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