How to Find Awesome Research Topics in Psychology

What do you picture when you think of writing a paper in psychology? Probably you imagine being bored to death and repeating information about a concept that has been already described a gazillion times. But hey, if you put a little effort in finding interesting psychology paper topics, you can turn the whole process into rewarding and exciting research to help you benefit in your studies and enhance your understanding of psychology. 

Table of Contents

  1. Common Mistakes While Choosing Psychology Project Topics
  2. History of Psychology Topics
  3. Experimental Psychology Topics
  4. Abnormal Psychology Topics
  5. Personality Psychology Topics
  6. Sample 1. What Are Some Clever Uses of the Placebo Effect?
  7. Sample 2. Pavlov’s Dogs Experiment

So, how can you find such an unbelievably good topic?

  1. Brainstorm for ideas.
  2. Check background information.
  3. Make sure the topic is narrow.
  4. Stay flexible.
  5. Research the topic.
  6. Formulate a thesis statement.

Now let’s have a closer look at some of the confusing parts of the list.

Why is background information checking necessary?

Even when you come up with a couple of interesting psychology research topic ideas, remember not to rush, and check the availability of information first. However disappointing it may be, sometimes the great idea you’ve had is so unique no one has done substantial research before. This is flattering, but remember that a good research paper doesn’t exist without links to other research papers and that you will have to fill all the gaps in information on your own by gathering enormous amounts of primary data.

Why should I choose narrow topics in psychology?

Oh, it’s challenging to stay “narrow” in humanities – when you sometimes dedicate the whole of your work trying to define the concept you are supposed to write about. That’s why a lot of students feel frustrated when the topic they fancy is deemed as too broad by their professors. But the truth is, you’ll have to write a dissertation, if not a book, to cover a broad topic, such as a psychological disorder. Stick with one side of the issue to make a great research paper.

Why should I stay flexible with my psychology research proposal topics?

Don’t panic if you decide to research OCD in mammals and find out that they don’t suffer from this condition (though apparently, they do – this is just an example). This is entrenched in the very nature of academic research – as you dig, experiment and collect data, you may find something very different from what you’ve started. That is okay, and all you need to do is alter your topic a little bit to reflect your finding better.

Common Mistakes While Choosing Psychology Project Topics

Now you know what to do to find awesome psychology A-level topics, but there are also many things you should avoid doing, and knowing them beforehand will help you make the brainstorming process a lot more productive. Here are the most common mistakes that students make while looking for ideas:

  • too broad of a topic
  • too short of a topic
  • information is not up-to-date
  • the topic is trivial

Now let’s take a closer look at these common mistakes.

 – Avoid too general topics.

Though it might be tempting to pick something like “human memory,” we hope you realize that completing a paper on such a topic will probably take two encyclopedia-sized books, or even more. Also, here is an informal but important reason why you should avoid such topics: if you insist on picking something general, your professor is likely to assume you don’t have any idea what you are talking about, so you need a wide topic to jam anything you will manage to find into your paper.

 – Don’t choose topics that are too short.

A topic that is too short (consists of two to three non-specific words) is nearly automatically a topic that is too broad. We believe that we’ve given enough argumentation why your psychology topics should be narrow, and this means they should be specific. Which, of course, makes for quite a long topic. Don’t make it too long though – it’s a topic, not the first paragraph of your research.

 – Don’t stick to old concepts and trivial ideas.

Choosing a research conducted 100 years ago (that is an exaggeration for a better illustration, of course) may be very tempting in terms of data. You don’t even have to check – there is plenty of new information on the topic and fresh findings made in the past 100 years to use in your research paper. Remember to stay reasonable! While picking a topic no one has ever written about may be too challenging for a student, sticking with old concepts that have been proven long ago is like writing a paper to prove that the Earth is not flat.

Best Psychology Research Topics in 2020

Now that you have a better grasp of the theory of choosing psychology research paper topics, we would like to present some examples to encourage you and kick the creativity up a little bit.

History of Psychology Topics

history of psychology topics

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  1. Development of psychology in Ancient Greece. Can this period be named the cradle of modern psychology?
  2. Can religious studies of the soul during the Middle Ages be called psychological? Why or why not?
  3. Enlightenment and advancement of psychological thought.
  4. Influence of Rene Descartes on psychological thoughts during the Enlightenment.
  5. Can phrenology be called a predecessor of modern psychology? Did it help or obstruct the development of psychological science?
  6. Faults and mistakes of Freud’s theory of the subconscious as viewed from today’s perspective.
  7. Was Sigmund Freud a misogynist? If so, why?
  8. Strong and weak points of behaviorism. Why was it so popular at the beginning of the 20th century?
  9. What is neo-behaviorism and how does it differ from the original doctrine?
  10. Noam Chomsky’s contribution to the development of cognitive psychology.

Experimental Psychology Topics

Experimental Psychology Topics

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  1. What defines the ethical limits in psychological experimentation on humans?
  2. Is it inhumane to conduct psychological experiments on highly-intelligent animals?
  3. How does the car crash experiment prove that our memories can be distorted?
  4. What is cognitive dissonance? Which experiment helped to dig into the nature of this process?
  5. How did the Fantz “looking chamber” experiment alter our understanding of infant development?
  6. What are the most popular experiments which show that visualization can be harmful?
  7. What is the bystander effect? What psychological experiment lies in the basis of this concept?
  8. Describe the Invisible Gorilla experiment. What does this experiment showcase about human memory and the ability to multitask?
  9. What does the Stanley Milgram experiment demonstrate about human conditioning and authority obedience?
  10. Describe the findings and effects of an experiment of choice on our understanding of human behavior.

Abnormal Psychology Topics

Abnormal Psychology Topics

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  1. Does the trend of body positivity have a positive impact on reducing the percentage of eating disorders among young adults?
  2. Is it becoming popular to label yourself with psychological disorders (OCD, ADD, GAD, and others), even though people who say so don’t have them?
  3. Does depicting characters with psychological disorders in media (books, TV shows) help or harm those who have the condition in real life?
  4. Is the number of people with depression or anxiety disorder increasing due to the pressure we face, or are we just more aware of the cases that have existed through time?
  5. History of anxiety disorder: how diagnostics and treatment have changed through time.
  6. The influence of a support network of family and friends in treating bipolar disorder.
  7. What are the differences between adjustment disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder? How do these differences manifest in treatment strategies?
  8.  What are the main factors that make ADHD difficult to diagnose?
  9. Is there any link between excessive use of social media and increasing levels of anxiety among young adults?
  10. Can OCD be called a first-world problem, since most of the sufferers typically struggle with thoughts about germs and related obsessions and compulsions?

Personality Psychology Topics

Personality Psychology Topics

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  1. Can the temperament of a person change through their lifetime? Can it be changed willingly?
  2. Is there any connection between personality types and musical tastes?
  3. Is it true that individuals who use social media actively are usually more extroverted?
  4. Are personality types, such as extrovert and introvert, learned during early childhood or genetically inherited?
  5. Is there any connection between a personality type and a kind of art the person likes?
  6. Does the order of birth have an impact on personality? Is it true that first-born children are more responsible?
  7. Do people with a certain temperament tend to be more creative?
  8. Compare two of the most popular personality assessment tests. Which one do you prefer and why?
  9. Can it be stated that people tend to marry partners with similar personalities rather than opposite ones?
  10. Is there any link between personality type and cheating in exams? Are extroverts or introverts more likely to cheat?

And for even better understanding of writing principles and brilliant topic choice ideas, we suggest you take a look at these two sample papers on psychology created by our expert writers.

Sample 1. What Are Some Clever Uses of the Placebo Effect?

A placebo is a type of treatment used by several professionals and is defined by Meaning, Medicine, and the “Placebo Effect” as a treatment used “objectively without specific activity for the condition being treated” (Moerman 14). What commonly happens in reaction to such treatment is called the placebo effect. Psychological issues or training dogs are only two of the many ways that this method is beneficial.

According to Mike, in his article The Placebo Effect, the expectancy theory can explain the effects of a placebo in treatment of a psychological issue. He says, “. . . a placebo creates an expectation of an effect . . . a formal description of what is sometimes referred to as ‘positive thinking.’” In other words, the patient thinks he or she is receiving actual treatment for the symptom (although there is no real treatment), so they start to expect a result and think more positively, thus reducing the feeling of anxiety or perhaps a different troubling feeling. As opposed to the expectancy theory, the method used to train dogs is called classical conditioning. According to Mike, this idea was started by Ivan Pavlov in an experiment that studied salivary responses in dogs when presented with food. His unexpected findings discovered that the dogs were relating other stimuli, such as footsteps down the hallway and consistently ringing a bell before each meal, with the food. He named this a “conditioned stimulus” (The Placebo Effect). The same method could be used for potty training dogs and helping them learn new tricks by using treats or another stimulus or placebo.

Although a placebo does not directly treat a symptom, under the right circumstances, it can come with positive results. The placebo effect can be used as a tool to promote more positive thinking and can even be used to develop conditioned responses in dogs. The idea can seem a bit unproductive, but can actually turn out to be quite useful.

Works Cited

Moerman, Daniel E. Meaning, Medicine, and the “Placebo Effect”. Cambridge: Cambridge UPress, 2002. Print.

Mike, and Imad. “The Placebo Effect.” The Placebo Effect. The Last Behaviorist, 01 Jan. 1970.
Web. 10 Apr. 2017.

Sample 2. Pavlov’s Dogs Experiment

Have you ever tried training a dog? It is fun, isn’t it? Especially when you taught them correctly and they show the exact action you want them to do. But have you ever tried accidentally training a dog? I think that’s even more exciting to do. Well, this is what happened to an experiment during the 1890s. Like most of all the experiments, it was an accident. In this essay, I would be discussing technical terms and ideas such as conditioned and unconditioned response, stimuli, and how classical conditioning was found out.

In an article written by McLeod, Ivan Pavlov, a Russian Psychologist, discovered “classical conditioning” during his experiments with dogs. But just like what I said earlier, it was an accident. At first, Ivan Pavlov was trying to know the digestion process of dogs over a long period of time by measuring the outside fluid excreted by the dogs. In this situation, the dogs were placed in an isolated room (Cherry, 2017). Pavlov then later saw that every time he entered the room and rang his bell, which signaled the dogs for eating time, the dogs began to salivate. He then realized that even though he did not have food for the dogs but still rang the bell, the dogs still salivated. Pavlov accidentally discovered that the dogs associated the bell with eating time (Psychologist World and Partners, 2017).

Technically, this is what happened. Before the “accidental” experiment, there was an unconditioned stimulus (object that does not directly affect the response of a subject), the bell and an unconditioned response which was the dogs salivating when they saw or smelled the food. Due to the “accident,” the dogs then started to salivate every time they heard the bell. The salivation is now called as a conditioned response (a response due to learning) and the ringing of the bell is a conditioned stimuli (the reason why there was a response learned) (Psychologist World and Partners, 2017).

Because of this experiment, Pavlov found out that the behavior of a person or an animal can be learned. The keyword for classical conditioning is “association.” Once a person or an animal associates an object with the desired response, learning will occur especially if the time between the stimuli and response is short (McLeod, 2017).

Pavlov’s experiment was earlier called “Pavlov’s Dogs” and “Pavlovian conditioning” (Psychologist World and Partners, 2017). This experiment is a great help to our world now especially in the educational setting. Classical conditioning is in the field of behavioral psychology, which means to say that this experiment may be able to aid in teaching new behaviors to a person or to an animal (Cherry, 2017).

Works Cited

McLeod, Saul. “Pavlov’s Dogs.” Simply Psychology, 2007,
http://www.simplypsychology.org/pavlov.html, Accessed 22 February 2017.

Psychologist World and Partners. Pavlov’s Dogs: How Classical Conditioning,
Psychologist World, 2017, https://www.psychologistworld.com/behavior/pavlov-dogs
classical-conditioning.php, Accessed 22 February 2017.

Cherry, Kendra. Classical Conditioning: How it works with Examples, Very Well, August 2016,
www.verywell.com/classicall-conditioning-2794859, Accessed 22 February 2017.

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