This Is What I Wrote Instead of Studying for AP Psych

Two students present psychology demonstrations to an audience.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

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By Grace Louie

“Now, we will use the Freudian free association method to unearth Erica’s suppressed internal thoughts. She will say whatever immediately comes to mind, following a prompt I provide. I’ll begin. White cow liquid.”

“Uhhhh…” I stared back at Edmund. “Ah! Yes, yes. Milk.”

“Erica’s father left when she was a child,” Edmund explained. “Of all the words that came to mind, Erica specifically chose milk, reflecting the modern cultural slang of ‘going to get milk’. Without knowing her family situation, a psychoanalytic psychologist can infer Erica’s home life. Many psychologists have questioned the accuracy of free association, but in this example, we have demonstrated that its conclusions are valid.”

“That’s my daughter!” my father yelled masculinely from the audience. I beamed.

“Next word,” Edmund said. “Butterfly.”

“Haha,” I giggled playfully. “Butt.”

He elbowed me. “Be appropriate,” he muttered.

“Edmund, isn’t the point of free association to say whatever comes to mind without any judgment?”

“My name is Sigmund. Yes, but these are adults watching our psychology panel and you’ve always made free association super bowel-related every time we’ve practiced.”

“That’s my daughter!” my father yelled masculinely from the audience.

“Erica, just don’t be difficult, okay?”

“Well, I hate this, and I love…”

“Love what?”

“YOUR MOM! OHOHOHOHO!” I chortled and dabbed.

“And would you looky here, she just demonstrated the Oedipus complex!” Signature cried. He stank-eyed me. “Erica, come here for a sec.”

Signature tugged us away from the mics and stared at me like I was a booger. “What is your problem?” he hissed.

“Signature, I hate working with you,” I said crossly. “You are the Toby to my Michael.”

“My name is SIGMUND. Just please cooperate,” Signal begged. “This audience actually cares about our research. Nobody else does! Just act out what I say without any complaints, okay?”

“You can’t make me.” I cocked my hip and purred.

“Or I…”, he clenched his fists Arthur-style. “I will punish you.” 

“Um, actually, that’s not punishment. The psychology term is reinforcement, because, in this case, the stimulus you add will INCREASE my behavior—” Signal stuffed his fingers up my nostrils. “AHH! AHH! AHH! AIYA!”

“Erica. Be obedient.” He wiped his slimy fingers with my shirt.



We nodded and kissed. Then we went back to the panel table.

“Thank you for your patience,” Simon Cowell said. “Next, we will demonstrate the five stages of grief. Erica, you love my mother, right? Well, she just died.”

I cleared my throat.

“NO! NO! NO!” I shrieked.

“That’s denial,” he said.







“OK, whatever.”

“And that is acceptance. Thank you.” There were whistles and cheers. “That’s my daughter!” my father yelled masculinely from the audience. A tear sprung to my eye as all the support in the room overwhelmed me.

“Finally, we will demonstrate classical conditioning in a recreation of Pavlov’s famous experiment with the dog and the bell,” Sinusoidal said. “First, I will hold up an unconditioned stimulus to Erica’s face.”

He held up an NMSC scholarship offer letter. My saliva began to hit the floor like reluctant JPrommers on the yacht. Splat. Splat. Splat.

“I will ring a bell each time before I present the stimulus to Erica.”

BRRING! Splat. BRRING! Splat. BRRING! Splat.

“Now, watch what happens when I ring the bell without the accompanying stimulus.”

BRRING! Splat. Whimper. A noise had escaped my throat. Bring back the scholarship offer! I thought sadly. Oh, the plight of college tuition.

“Eureka, Erica was conditioned to still drool like a nasty dog!” Self-Propelled Lawn Mower 150cc Gas Engine exclaimed. “And that concludes our demonstrations for today. Thank you all for coming!” I bowed as the audience chorused thank yous and made their way to the door. But then my ears perked up.


One of the audience members had a miniature bell on a keychain. Every time it jangled, I spasmed and couldn’t help but crawl closer, pushing my way through the crowd.

“Erica…?” Seashell Sally stared at me. “What—get back here!”

“Seashell Sally, that sound…”

“My name is SIGMUND.”

I clutched onto the person’s leg. Alarmed, he tried to kick me off, but I held on.

“Get off!” Sigma shouted.

“The FAFSA rollout was so bad,” I whispered, bug-eyed. “I need financial aid…”

“Recondition her!” the person shrieked, swatting at me. I clung on even tighter as his screams filled the room. “NO, PLEASE!”

And I pounced.