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Free Psychology Research Topics: 125+ Themes for Your Papers in 2020-2021

Writing a psychology research paper or essay is an exciting and challenging academic exercise for students. Basically, such a practice exposes learners to a field that is so broad, thus familiarizing someone with diverse issues and topics. Moreover, it requires scholars to write about issues related to the human mind and behavior. Then, students cannot rely only on the literature. Instead, they should use observations to understand psychological concepts. When constructing a topic for a psychology research paper or essay, a student should use different strategies. In turn, these aspects include browsing psychological texts in university libraries and online, consulting academic texts like textbooks, observing the surrounding environment, or recalling what tutors have said during lectures. Thus, students need free psychology research topics for their academic papers, making their works interesting and credible.

General Guidelines on Free Psychology Research Topics for Academic Papers and Essays

When it comes to academic writing, students write research papers and essays on different topics. Ideally, these topics fall within diverse disciplines, reflecting the breadth of learning that scholars experience in their academic journey. For example, psychology is one of these disciplines, where students write research papers and essays on different topics. Although interesting psychology research topics vary by content, they all revolve around similar themes – the working of the human mind and human behavior in diverse settings. Indeed, it is what entails the science of psychology. Therefore, learners write psychology research papers or essays when requirements instruct them to address an aspect or aspects of an individual’s life, such as mental health or behavioral disposition. In turn, this type of work differs from others in content. For example, while a paper may focus on discussing human behavior, an argumentative essay covers persuading the audience to adopt the writer’s perspective concerning an issue.

free psychology research topics in 2020-2021

Free Examples of Research Topics for a Psychology Essay or Paper

Based on the fact that psychology is a broad discipline that focuses on human behavior, students writing psychology research papers or essays have many topic choices to write about. In essence, branches of psychology reflect the breadth of the discipline. Moreover, choosing interesting psychology research topics that address these branches is a strategy that students can use to write such papers on different themes. In turn, these branches include DSM-V, Cognition and Development, Care and Therapy, Recovery and Counseling, Personality, Psychology Models and Theories, Socio-ecology, Industrial Psychology, and Clinical Psychology.

1. Examples of Research Themes on DSM-V

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the basis upon which the United States’ clinical fraternity addresses mental health. Basically, DSM-V is the current edition of DSM and denotes significant changes in how mental disorders are assessed and classified. Therefore, when writing psychology research papers or essays, students can choose topics that address mental health because of the strong correlation between DSM and psychology. Hence, sample topics in this field that students can choose are:

  1. Discuss effective approaches to diagnosing personality pathology.
  2. What entails the effective management of personality disorders?
  3. Discuss good and poor methods of treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  4. Comment on DSM-V changes concerning dyslexia.
  5. Discuss the six sets of clinical criteria in the classification of Alzheimer’s disease.
  6. How is the diagnosis of major depressive disorder (MDD) different in DSM-IV and DSM-V?
  7. Why do you think DSM-V does not address the Defense Mechanisms construct?
  8. Discuss how diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorders in DSM-IV differ from DSM-5.
  9. Explain why subcategories of schizophrenia, such as paranoid and disorganized, have been removed as diagnostic entities in DSM-V
  10. Should restless legs be included in DSM-V?

2. Psychology Research Topics on Cognition and Development

When talking about psychology, students can choose to focus on cognition and development topics, focusing on the aspect of mental development along the life continuum. Basically, the human brain is an amazing organ that, despite its functions, undergoes clinical challenges that affect personality. Also, this is why mental development in childhood is a critical area of study in psychology. In turn, when writing psychology essays or research papers on cognition and development, a student can choose different examples of free topics, as indicated below:

  1. Discuss the concept of accommodation as it pertains to personal development.
  2. How does assimilation impact cognitive development?
  3. Discuss the challenges of Autism.
  4. Comment on early infant abilities.
  5. What is the goal of class inclusion?
  6. Discuss the pros and cons of egocentrism.
  7. How does equilibration affect personality?
  8. What characterizes socially handicapped children?
  9. Elaborate on Williams Syndrome.
  10. Discuss the challenges of developmental disorders.

3. Sample Themes on Care and Therapy

The incidence of mental disorders underscores concepts of care and therapy that characterize the health system. While medications are essential as interventions against mental disorders, care, and therapy are critical because they foster individuals’ functionality. For example, some mentally disabled individuals can hardly attend to essential domestic chores. Moreover, this is why carers are a significant component of the mental health care system. Hence, when writing psychology research papers or essays on care and therapy, students can choose different topics, such as those listed below:

  1. Do you think a client’s spiritual beliefs influence the speed of recovery?
  2. What is the Christian perspective concerning family conflict?
  3. What constitutes the caregiver burden?
  4. What is a biracial identity?
  5. Discuss anxiety management strategies.
  6. What characterizes the Aspergers syndrome?
  7. Discuss the spiritual connotation of dream symbolism.
  8. Do you think rehabilitation is an effective intervention against substance addition?
  9. What is the essence of faith in a family crisis?
  10. Discuss the significance of goal setting in personal development.

4. Examples of Psychology Research Themes on Recovery and Counseling

Key challenges that individuals go through undermine their social competence. For example, these challenges include substance abuse and addiction. Also, the field of psychology plays a vital role in predisposing such individuals to settings that improve their functionality. For instance, rehabilitation is a concept of psychology that denotes the aspect of assisting individuals to recover from personal challenges like the ones mentioned above. In turn, this aspect explains why rehabilitation programs incorporate recovery and counseling sessions. Therefore, when writing psychology essays or research papers on recovery and counseling, students can choose diverse topics, as listed below:

  1. How do family dynamics facilitate or hamper recovery?
  2. What strategies can one use to build positive thinking skills?
  3. What are effective anger management strategies?
  4. What are people skills and soft skills?
  5. Discuss effective conflict management strategies.
  6. Do visualization activities foster mental health?
  7. Discuss stress management activities.
  8. What is the value of forgiveness in resolving family crises?
  9. What is the value of interpersonal communication?
  10. Discuss the stages of grief, commenting on the significance of each for people that have lost loved ones in natural calamities.

5. Psychology Research Topic Samples on Personality Formation

Personality is a concept that denotes an aspect of individuality. In other words, people differ in many ways, such as how they talk and behave, and in the habits that define their everyday living. Since psychology focuses on the human mind and behavior, it means that assessing what influences personality is an activity of psychologists. Hence, when writing psychology research papers or essays on personality, students can choose sample topics:

  1. Does achievement motivation matter?
  2. What is the essence of agreeableness in relationships?
  3. Discuss androgyny.
  4. Comment on how attachment styles influence one’s disposition.
  5. What constitutes an authoritarian personality?
  6. What do you understand by the term “Babyfaceness?”
  7. Discuss the five personality traits.
  8. Distinguish between central traits and peripheral traits.
  9. Does birth order affect personality?
  10. Do personality traits determine prosocial behaviors?

6. Examples of Research Themes on Psychology Models and Theories

Like any academic field, psychology has advanced over the years. Basically, this advancement is evident in the number of models and theories that guide scholarship in the field. Generally, new models and theories indicate that scholars have discovered new truths about a topic that indicates advancement in knowledge and thought. Over the years, psychologists have come up with concepts and models to guide various topics. In turn, the list of interesting research topics below shows various themes that psychology students can choose when writing such papers on psychology models and theories.

  1. Discuss Jean Piaget’s Concept of Equilibration.
  2. Comment on sequential order and plasticity in children’s cognitive development.
  3. What are the implications of Jean Piaget’s Theory for the Education of Young Children?
  4. Discuss Narcissistic Reactance Theory.
  5. What is Objectification Theory?
  6. Comment on Realistic Group Conflict Theory.
  7. Discuss Reasoned Action Theory.
  8. What is Reductionism?
  9. Comment on Self-Affirmation Theory concerning personal development.
  10. Elaborate on Self-Categorization Theory.

7. Examples of Socio-Ecology Topics for Psychology Research Papers or Essays

All living things, including humans, operate within the confines of an environment. Basically, social structure and organization are the defining characteristics of this environment. Moreover, socio-ecology is a psychology discipline that focuses on understanding how the social environment affects and influences human behavior. As a result, when writing psychology research papers or essays focusing on this discipline, students can choose diverse study topics, such as those listed below:

  1. What role does humanity have in replenishing the planet Earth and Mother Nature in the context of climate change?
  2. Discuss the importance of sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
  3. Discuss a socio-ecological approach to human social behavior.
  4. Is there a link between relational mobility and intimacy?
  5. Discuss the concept of passion and its role in romantic relationships.
  6. Do social spheres overlap in today’s digital world?
  7. Does staying offline affect one’s ability to express themselves online?
  8. Comment on romantic competitiveness.
  9. Compare and contrast social-ecological schools of thought.
  10. What strategies can communities adapt to manage waste in a globalized world?

8. Examples of Research Themes on Organizational Psychology

As social animals, human beings operate in diverse environments, one of which is workplaces. Like any other setting, a workplace has a profound influence on individuals’ behavior. For example, the concept of cohesion denotes the degree to which individuals in a group, such as a workplace, can work relate harmoniously towards a mutual goal. In this case, studying human behavior in such settings falls within the discipline of organizational psychology. Therefore, when writing essays or research papers on organizational psychology, students can choose a topic from the list below:

  1. Discuss how globalization has influenced the internationalization of workplaces.
  2. What is the meaning of work-family balance, and how does it affect workplaces?
  3. Write about workplace stress and how best employees can cope.
  4. Discuss corporate ethics within the context of recent trends of corporate fraud incidents.
  5. What impact do group dynamics have on productivity?
  6. How do individual differences affect cohesion?
  7. What leads to job satisfaction?
  8. Discuss the role of leadership and management in employee welfare.
  9. What strategies do companies use to increase employee motivation?
  10. What determines an employee’s decision to stay?

9. Forensic Psychology

Since psychology focuses on understanding the human mind and its influence on behavior, scholars accept that this discipline can be valuable to law enforcement. Basically, forensic psychology denotes the application of psychology to tame criminal behavior. Also, there are many topics that students can choose from when writing essays or research papers on forensic psychology. Hence, the list below shows some examples of these topics:

  1. What is the Ackerman-Schoendorf Parent Evaluation of Custody Test (ASPECT)?
  2. Discuss the implications of adjudicative competence.
  3. What is the role of the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI)?
  4. Evaluate the significance of aggravating and mitigating circumstances in the death penalty.
  5. Comment on the discourse on mental disability and the death penalty.
  6. Discuss the implications of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  7. Discuss the symptomology of Antisocial Personality Disorder.
  8. What is automatism?
  9. What is the Battered Woman Syndrome?
  10. What are the manifestations of child maltreatment?

How Psychology Research Topics Can Be Different for Various Types of Papers

When writing psychology essays or research papers, students must note that interesting topics can differ based on the type of work. Besides the branches of psychology highlighted above, another issue that determines psychology research topics is the type of paper. In turn, common types include research, exploratory, cause and effect, speech, opinion, narrative, and informative papers.

1. Themes for Research Papers

  1. Evaluate the implications of bullying on cognitive development.
  2. Investigate the role of media in fueling ethnic hatred in a multicultural society.
  3. Investigate whether violent video games and cartoons drive children to engage in violent behavior.
  4. Investigate the underlying causes of rape.
  5. Investigate the underlying causes of psychopathic behavior among teenagers.

2. Examples of Interesting Topics for Exploratory Papers

  1. Explore the strategies health professionals use to control chronic pain.
  2. Explore the treatment of anxiety and panic attacks using cognitive therapy.
  3. How does behavioral therapy help to tame criminal behavior?
  4. Explore the pros and cons of using antidepressants.
  5. Explore the underlying factors of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

3. Topic Samples for Cause and Effect Papers

  1. Explain the factors influencing the growing cases of anorexia in children and their effect on children’s overall wellbeing.
  2. What causes anorexia in adults, and how does it impair optimal health?
  3. Explain why eating disorders are increasing among the youth and the risks involved.
  4. What factors lead to eating disorders, and how do they affect mental health?
  5. Give reasons for the rising cases of teenage suicides and how these cases are affecting families and societies.

4. Examples of Themes for Speech Papers

  1. Explain how asexuality defines one’s psychological disposition.
  2. Comment on the link between psychology and suicide ideation.
  3. What is the best approach in the management of anxiety and depressing thoughts?
  4. Do violent video games predispose children to a mood disorder?
  5. Is stalking a psychological disorder? Why or why not?

5. Psychology Research Topics for Opinion Papers

  1. Comment on phobias and whether you think they symbolize poor mental health.
  2. What are your thoughts regarding post-traumatic stress disorder among veterans?
  3. Do you think adoption has a legal and ethical basis?
  4. Do you think parental negligence is to blame for childhood obesity?
  5. What do you think leads to family breakdown?

6. Theme Samples for Informative Papers

  1. Explain the factors responsible for home-grown terrorism.
  2. Explain the role of rehabilitation in controlling recidivism.
  3. Explain the factors responsible for juvenile delinquency in urban centers.
  4. Explain the connection between law enforcement and racism in the United States.
  5. Highlight the issues that lead to recidivism.

7. Examples of Ideas for Argumentative Papers

  1. Does the criminal justice system rehabilitate criminals? Explain your answer.
  2. Is racism to blame for racial intolerance in the US? Elaborate on your answer.
  3. Is the criminal justice system more punitive to men than women?
  4. Do family crises predispose children to psychopathic tendencies?
  5. Does mental disability excuse offense?

Choosing a Research Topic for a Psychology Paper: Step-by-Step Guide

When writing psychology essays or research papers, the standard practice is that educational departments or instructors provide paper instructions with its topics. However, it is not always the case. Also, if students have to choose a psychology research topic, they can use several approaches. For example, the first approach is to browse psychology texts, such as books and journals, in a university library or on the Internet. Then, the second approach is to recall what tutors have said in lectures and note what is written in course textbooks and other readings. Moreover, the third approach is to deduce a topic by observing the surroundings or reflecting on personal experiences. In turn, these three approaches are good starting points for students who want to write psychology research papers or essays if they do not have a topic.

1. Skeleton of a Psychology Research Topic

When constructing a theme for a psychology paper, a student must address several issues that reflect the topic’s skeleton. For example, the first issue is ascertaining the general area of interest in psychology. Based on the previous sections, there are numerous topics that a student can write about, using many disciplines of psychology as a guide. Then, the second issue is the formulation of a psychology topic, and the third issue is the formulation of a specific research problem with clear alternative solutions. Moreover, writers must ensure that these solutions can be evaluated through a structured argument backed with scientific facts from the literature. Further on, learners must rely on external sources to advances ideas and arguments. In turn, the fourth issue is developing a thesis statement, which should provide a hint of a solution to a research problem or hypothesis. Besides, when constructing a research problem, students should avoid general statements, indisputable facts, and personal opinions.

How the skeleton relies on the task. Based on the preceding section, it is evident that a skeleton of a psychology research topic that a student chooses when writing a paper relies on the task at hand. Basically, this task is the requirements of educational departments or tutors regarding a paper. Moreover, these requirements set out a grading rubric with all expected points. As such, when constructing a skeleton of a psychology research topic, learners should consult these basic requirements, specifically a grading rubric, to understand the branch of psychology to focus on, the research issue, and the central idea in the thesis statement.

2. How to Alter a Psychology Research Topic for Different Purposes

Essentially, a skeleton of a psychology research topic described above defines the process that students should follow when constructing a topic for their psychology papers or essays. As such, what matters is direct by educational departments or tutors concerning the branch of psychology to focus on and the issue to address. Moreover, when students find themselves in a situation where they have to write about interesting research topics from different psychology branches, all they need to do is to replace the area of interest, the research issue, and the thesis statement. In other words, such a structure or skeleton of coming up with a topic remains the same, despite changes in the area of focus or a specific branch of psychology.

Template for Writing a Psychology ResearchTopic

Area of interest (Branch of psychology): Social Psychology.

Topic: The Impact of Prejudice and Social Influence on Self-Concept.

Research issue: Investigating how prejudice and social influence shape how an individual perceives themself notwithstanding how others perceive them.

Thesis: As a social condition, prejudice results when individuals choose conformity within a social group or society.

Explanation. Looking at a sample template above, it is evident that a student needs to consider four central issues when constructing a topic for a psychology research paper or essay. Basically, this template assumes that a student intends to write on the topic: The Impact of Prejudice and Social Influence on Self-Concept. As such, this person identifies social psychology as the branch of psychology within which such a topic falls under. Also, the second step is to formulate a research question that underscores a thesis of a paper. In turn, a thesis statement provides the audience with a hint about the research question’s answer.

Summing Up on Free Psychology Research Topics

Writing psychology research papers or essays is an academic exercise that enables students to develop critical writing skills. Basically, psychology is a broad discipline, as reflected by various branches of this discipline: cognitive and development, socio-ecology, care and therapy, recovery and counseling, and personality. Thus, when writing psychology research papers or essays, students should first determine the branch of psychology that underscores their topics. Although it is standard practice for psychology departments and tutors to provide students with sample topics, it is not always the case. Therefore, when students need to develop interesting psychology research topics, they need to follow a specific structure. Also, it includes deciding on the branch of psychology, formulating the research question, and developing a thesis statement. In turn, some tips are essential when creating a psychology research topic:

  1. identify the area of interest out of the many branches of psychology;
  2. choose a topic;
  3. formulate a research issue;
  4. develop a thesis.