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Research Paper Topics in Psychology

How to Find Research Paper Topics in Psychology

A research paper topic in psychology determines what you want to explore. It is the first step when you want to write a paper. It brings out your concern about a particular area. A good research question guides you on the hypothesis and the research itself. The research paper is based on the research paper topics in psychology that you come up with.

If you were to compare a research paper with a house, then the research question would be below the foundation. It is the foundation of the foundation. That is how important a good research question is. When coming up with the question you

  • Bring out your concern
  • Provide suggestion for the solution of the challenge at hand

Characteristic of a Good Research Paper Topic in Psychology

  1. It must be something you are interested in

Remember as you chose the research topic in psychology, you must like the topic. Do not be influenced by other people except guidance from your supervisor to choose a topic. You are responsible for all the research and writing. If you take up something that you do not like, you might end up taking longer or changing the topic along the way.

You will end up wasting a lot of time since you are unable to focus on the topic. As you do all the writing and research, you are likely to feel overwhelmed and lazy during the process. What happens when unforeseen challenges arise? You will likely give up. This will not be good for your grade. It might also affect other courses of study.

If you take a long time writing the paper and the deadline catches up with you, you might result to skipping classes to complete the work or working through the night.

  1. Choose feasible research paper topics in psychology

There are topics which sound so good when it comes to writing, it becomes impossible. Psychology touches on human beings and some topics of study will need volunteers for a long time. Others need people to be very honest with you. You might also need to carry out several sessions of psychological therapy on people to solve a problem.

What does the research topic require? Can you get it or is it troublesome to acquire those things? Will you get people to attend the sessions and be honest to you? Do you need to spend any money on the research? Do you have that kind of money? After you finish writing the research, will it appear trustworthy?


  1. Select a research-able topic

As you write your research, remember that it will be presented to people. What kind of audience are you writing for? Will they understand the language? How does the problem concern them?

Keep in mind that the topic o study should be one where a research can be carried out about it. Some topics are so broad or complicated so they are not suitable for college level research assignments. They require a lot of time and resources.

There three types of questions that are commonly used in psychology

  1. Descriptive research paper topics in psychology

These kinds of questions describe what exists and what is going on. The goal of science is prediction, explanation and description. Unfortunately, they do not give information on cause and effect and neither do they give accurate predictions. Their main role is just to shed light on events and happenings.

Research that seeks to know the number of people who hold an opinion, then that would mean that a descriptive question would be needed. The questions can either be solved by employing case-study, survey or observational methods.

  • Observational

Just as the name suggests, the behavior of people is observed. It can be in their natural or laboratory setting. Conclusions are made after the observations. You can use this to study the reason for particular behavior. If your topic is about mental disorders in college students, you can use this method. In the natural setting, you will observe what leads to stressful conditions in college students without interfering with the natural settings.

If you want to control the environment of the student, you could either give students some cash (finances are known to be a leading cause of college student mental health illnesses) then observe their behavior. Will the stress level go down?

Some people have said that carrying out the test in a controlled environment produces better results.

  • Case study method

Unlike the description method which looks at the topic superficially, case study takes an in-depth study of the individual or group of people. This method brings out rare phenomena that are used to come up with the hypothesis.

Unfortunately, there are some disadvantages with this method; you cannot use it to make accurate predictions and you cannot determine the cause and effect of phenomena using this method.

The expectations of the observer can affect the interpretations of the data. If they are biased against one side, then they are likely to give inaccurate results. The validity of the data received from this method is sometimes dependent on the observer.

  • Survey method

You give the participants questions in the form of surveys and questionnaires to answer. From the way they answer, and then you can make deductions. To gather the most information, make sure the questions are easy to understand and answer. You might need to explain to the participants the essence of the survey.

There are four main ways to phrase psychological questions in a questionnaire. They can be open ended which means that the participant can add explanations after the yes/no answer. They provide more details but when it comes to analysis and interpretation, they are difficult to work with. You will need to classify the answers in categories in order to deduce the correct findings.

Closed ended questions require yes or no answers or direct kind of answers. Though they may not provide a lot of information, they are easy to analyze and interpret. It will take you a short time to classify the data then interpret it.

The other questions are rating scale questions or the partially open ended questions.

  1. Relational questions

These questions are used when you want to show the relationships between people or events. How do two or more items relate? For example if you want to know the percentage of males college students that abuse alcohol compared to the percentage of female students that abuse alcohol. This would be a good way to go about the study.

  1. Casual methods

They are important when you want to show the cause and effect of variables. You might want to look at the effect of tests on the behavior of students. Do they make the students abuse alcohol more? Such kind of cause and effect relationships.

In order to come up with research paper topics in psychology, you start with keywords that interest you. After that you formulate a question that narrows the research question down from the broader view point. Common psychology topics include:

  • Cyber bullying. You can look at the emotional effects to an individual who has been bullied; does it have an effect on the self-esteem of a teenage? You can also look at other consequences
  • How do dreams and theories affect the mental development of a human mind? What is their significance to an individual?
  • Studies on psychological disorders in the society. You can look at their prevalence, the specific group of people who suffer from them, any effects of the disorders to the individual and their family. This topic has been explored in many ways but there are still more ways to explore it. It is so broad and has significant effect to the society as a whole
  • College and university graduates. As a college student, you are in a good place to explore the limitless views of this topic. Examples of areas of study include the job market, the challenges facing students, you can also explain a specific behavior like drug abuse
  • Current affairs. Issues making headlines at a particular time are good sources of research paper topics in psychology. Topics of interest would include rape, drug addiction, killings and such. Those that affect the psychology of human beings
  • Another source of a topic is your text book and notes. What you have already studied or a question posed in the text book. Could also be a question that the lecturer asked in class when teaching?

Research paper topics in psychology touch on people directly and so you should be careful about overstepping your boundaries. You do not want to study something that will put you in problem. For example, if you are from Africa, you would not want to involve yourself with same sex marriage because it is tabooed in most countries. Keep away from topics that affect people negatively. If you have to touch on a sensitive topic, you have to be ready for the response you get. As psychology focuses on the mind of people, you will need to be very understanding in case someone does not want to be part of the research.

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