Good Essay Topics On Psychology

Are you searching for a great topic for your psychology paper? Sometimes it seems like coming up with a good idea for a paper is more challenging than the actual research and writing. Fortunately, there are plenty of great places to find inspiration and the following list contains just a few ideas to help get you started.

Finding a solid topic is one of the most important steps when writing any type of paper. It can be particularly important when you are writing a psychology research paper or essay. Psychology is such a broad topic, so you want to find a topic that allows you to adequately cover the subject without becoming overwhelmed with information.

As you begin your search for a topic for your psychology paper, it is first important to consider the guidelines established by your instructor. In some cases, such as in a general psychology class, you might have had the option to select any topic from within psychology's broad reaches. Other instances, such as in an abnormal psychology course, might require you to write your paper on a specific subject such as a psychological disorder.

Focus on a Topic Within a Particular Branch of Psychology

The key to selecting a good topic for your psychology paper is to select something that is narrow enough to allow you to really focus on the subject, but not so narrow that it is difficult to find sources or information to write about.

One approach is to narrow your focus down to a subject within a specific branch of psychology. For example, you might start by deciding that you want to write a paper on some sort of social psychology topic. Next, you might narrow your focus down to how persuasion can be used to influence behavior.

Other social psychology topics you might consider include:

Write About a Disorder or Type of Therapy

Exploring a psychological disorder or a specific treatment modality can also be a good topic for a psychology paper. Some potential abnormal psychology topics include specific psychological disorders or particular treatment modalities, including:

Choose a Topic Related to Human Cognition

Some of the possible topics you might explore in this area include thinking, language, intelligence, and decision-making. Other ideas might include:

Consider a Topic Related to Human Development

In this area, you might opt to focus on issues pertinent to early childhood such as language development, social learning, or childhood attachment or you might instead opt to concentrate on issues that affect older adults such as dementia or Alzheimer's disease.

Some other topics you might consider include:

Critique a Book or Academic Journal Article

One option is to consider writing a psychology critique paper of a published psychology book or academic journal article. For example, you might write a critical analysis of Sigmund Freud's Interpretation of Dreams or you might evaluate a more recent book such as Philip Zimbardo's The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil.

Professional and academic journals are also a great place to find materials for a critique paper. Browse through the collection at your university library to find titles devoted to the subject that you are most interested in, then look through recent articles until you find what that grabs your attention.

Analyze a Famous Experiment

There have been many fascinating and groundbreaking experiments throughout the history of psychology, providing ample material for students looking for an interesting term paper topic. In your paper, you might choose to summarize the experiment, analyze the ethics of the research, or evaluate the implications of the study. Possible experiments that you might consider include:

Write a Paper About a Historical Figure

One of the simplest ways to find a great topic is to choose an interesting person in the history of psychology and write a paper about them. Your paper might focus on many different elements of the individual's life, such as their biography, professional history, theories, or influence on psychology.

While this type of paper may be historical in nature, there is no need for this assignment to be dry or boring. Psychology is full of fascinating figures rife with intriguing stories and anecdotes. Consider such famous individuals as Sigmund Freud, B.F. Skinner, Harry Harlow, or one of the many other eminent psychologists.

Write About a Specific Psychology Career

​Another possible topic, depending on the course in which you are enrolled, is to write about specific career paths within the field of psychology. This type of paper is especially appropriate if you are exploring different subtopics or considering which area interests you the most. In your paper, you might opt to explore the typical duties of a psychologist, how much people working in these fields typically earn, and different employment options that are available.

Create a Case Study of an Individual or Group of People

One potentially interesting idea is to write a psychology case study of a particular individual or group of people. In this type of paper, you will provide an in depth analysis of your subject, including a thorough biography. Generally, you will also assess the person, often using a major psychological theory such as Piaget's stages of cognitive development or Erikson's eight-stage theory of human development. It is also important to note that your paper doesn't necessarily have to be about someone you know personally. In fact, many professors encourage students to write case studies on historical figures or fictional characters from books, television programs, or films.

Conduct a Literature Review

Research: Topic Selection & Rubric: 

 Mr. Haberman - AP Psychology(Revised 2/14)


You must select one topic from the list below on the first come, first serve bases, and complete an APA-style research paper once each semester. Only one student per topic and register the selection with the teacher. To insure that you get a topic of interest, highlight your top 5 research topics, in order.That way, if your top choice has already been selected by someone else in the class, you can move down the list.


1. Addictions:which substance(s) most addicting?Which easiest/hardest to treat?

2.Role of the environment in the development of personality.

3. What do modern psychologists feel are the major weaknesses of Freud's psychoanalytic theories.

4. Addiction: influences of genetics vs. peers/environment

5. Anxiety:Causes, Symptoms and Therapy

6. Attachment Theory:relationship to parenting style & psychological health as an adult

7. Research the literature on the psychological and physical benefits of laughter.

8. The effects of the circadian rhythms on human beings.

9. The effects of cognitive dissonance on behavior/values

10. The Nightly Dream Cycle and Sleep Deprivation:impact on mental health

11. The Validity of Psychological Tests:how established?Which tests more valid?Less valid?

12. Collectivist vs. Individualistic Cultures:impact on positive self-esteem/sense of self.

13. Interpersonal Attraction:causes, gender differences; is there an "ideal"?

14. Gender differences and the Brain - separating actual differences from stereotypes

15. Endorphins and Happiness:production, role, implications for mental health

16. Learned Optimism/helplessness:how each come about; implications for mental health

17. Genius: Criteria, Characteristics and Types.

18. The Internet:positive/negative effects on our psychological health

19. How has Abraham Maslow's concept of self-actualization affected Psychology?

20. Trace the Development of Humanism from 1950 till now. Review of the Literature

21. Childhood Trauma:impact on personality/role in personality disorders.

22. Race and Intelligence: The Scientific View

23. Possible Causes of Childhood Autism

24. How is Intelligence Measured?Reasons for controversy/debate

25. The Dual Roles of Genetics and Environment on Intelligence

26. Inherited Behavior - The Latest Research

27.Compare and Contrast the Learning Theories of B. F. Skinner and Jean Piaget

28. Alzheimer's Disease:causes, treatment & role lifestyle plays

29. Contact sports & degenerative brain disease

30. Workplace stress:environmental factors?Role of culture, of job type?

31. Rational Emotive Theory:development & modern uses

32. Aging:changes to brain; implications, opportunities & challenges

33. Theories of Forgetting - explanation & implications for better memory

34. Does money buy happiness?Psychological health & socioeconomic status

35. Theories of Intelligence (Spearman vs. Gardner):implications for schools

36. The Theory of Persuasion - why works/doesn't work (psychology behind it)

37. Bullying:causes, who gets bullied; what can parents/teachers do to stop it?

38. The Effects of Over Crowding on Human Beings

39. Subliminal Messages and How They can be Used to Influence Thought and Behavior

40. Current Experiments in Thought Control

41. The Psychological Effects of Torture

42. The Psychological Effects of War

43. How are Children Affected by War.

44. The Theory of Memory Storage in the Human Brain:is there a physical basis?What happens to it?

45. How to Motivate Children to Achieve

46. The Function of Play in psychological health/well-being

47. Reality Therapy:origins, modern uses

48. The Psychological Benefits of Pets & Pet Therapy

49. Psychological Problems of Paraplegics

50. The Emotional Effects of Solitary Confinement

51. Behavior Patterns of Hyperactive Children - biological vs. environmental roots

52. The Stages of Grief According to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross:implications for coping with loss

53. Attractiveness & bias:are the attractive treated differently? (convictions, hiring, perceptions)

54. Habits: How are they Formed and How They Can Be Changed?

55. The Effects of Color on Mental States

56. The Idiot Savant:origins; contrast with normal intellectual functioning

57. The Theory of Boredom:mental/emotional determinants

58. Managing Interpersonal Conflict:psychology of mediation

59. Divorce:causes, psychological impact

60. Shyness in Adults:causes, consequences

61. The Principles of Primal Therapy:origins, modern uses


62. How Children Develop Gender Identification

63. Typical Mother-Daughter Conflicts in Modern America:causes, solutions

64. The Psychological Aspects of Obesity

65. The Psychological Profile of a Terrorist

66. The Clinical Uses of Hypnosis - risks vs. benefits

67. Significant Findings From Recent Research on Identical Twins

68. The Psychological Profile of a Mercenary Soldier

69. Abusers: A Profile - early psychological history of a future abuser

70. Eating Disorders:why are they so resistant to treatment?Role of gender?Brain changes?

71. Hate Crimes:impact on vicims & on communities

72. Brain Damage and Behavior

73. Dreams & dream interpretation:why they occur?are interpretations valid?

74. The Limits of Artificial Intelligence

75. Compare and Contrast the Training, Scope, and Functions of Psychiatrists and Psychologists.

76. The Rorschach Test: How is it Administered and Evaluated?

77. The Psychological Problems of the Homeless.

78.How does social anxiety disorder effect the routine life of a person?

79.Cyber bullying:psychological impact and recommended responses

80 .ADHD:Latest research and recommended treatment

81.The link between exercise and emotional health

82.Anger management:what makes psychological treatment effective?

83.Psychology of Flow:implications for workplace satisfaction

84.Psychological characteristics of long-lasting marriages

85.Creativity and Intelligence:what makes kids creative, and is it measured by intelligence tests?

86.US Cultural and Marketing Trends:do they threaten children's physical and mental health?

87.Violence in the Media:psychological effects on children

88.Tools of Sports Psychologists:how they can also promote mental health in the workplace

89.  Birth Order:  does it effect personality?  First-born vs. middle child vs. youngest?

90.   Psychological profile of the serial killer:  what do they have in common - neurologically?  Personalities?  Family history?

91.   Depersonalization/derealization Disorder:  causes, symptoms and treatment.

92.  Antisocial Personality Disorder:  influences of nature vs. nurture; prominence in the criminal justice system

93.  Brand New Mental Disorders:  describing the disorders first appearing in the DSM 5 - implications for psychology?

94.  Brain Mapping:  dispelling myths & updating accuracy based on the newest maps.  What really happens where? 

95.  Psychology Behind Attraction:  how marketing professionals influence consumer choices. 

96. Key parenting strategies for raising children with healthy self-esteem.

97. What is emotional intelligence and how does it relate to success and life satisfaction?

98. The psychological benefits of forgiveness.

99. Optimism versus pessimism: impact on physical and psychological health.

100. The psychopath's brain: is it structurally different from the normal brain?

101. The most widely believed MYTHS in psychology.

102. Do we inherit or create our personalities? A review of the evidence.

103. The frequent selfie-taker: the social psychology behind social media use.


Semester Research PaperAP Psychology – Mr. Haberman


1st Semester:100 point project grade; 2nd Semester:scored as 25% of Final Exam




General Instructions

Independent research allows each AP Psychology student the opportunity to explore a topic of personal interest, and delve into greater detail on the chosen topic than we would have time to cover as an entire class.Each paper (one per semester), to be submitted electronically, should be 3-4 pages typed, double-spaced with a font size of 12, not counting the cover page, abstract, and references page.Your research should include a minimum of 5 references, with at least 2 references coming from either books or professional journal articles.Your research papers are to be prepared in APA format, and as such should include:


1.1” margins all around

2.Title page centered horizontally and vertically

3.Abstract – second page – a brief summary of your findings

4.References within the document in APA format (NOT footnotes, but author and year in parenthesis).

5.References page after the body of the report (not numbered, but alphabetical by author’s last name – see examples below)


.APA Format for References (fictitious samples, to show you the format):


For a professional journal article (as it would appear in the bibliography - alphabetically by author last name):


Freud, S. (1933). The interpretation of dreams. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 5(2), 144-148.


For a book: Erikson, E. (1958). Psychological and social development through the lifespan. (pp. 104-155). New York, NY: Hardcourt Brace.


In-paper citations (using these two examples). 

Paraphrase the information, ending with the citation: "For many adults, unresolved issues from childhood may show up in the latent content of their dreams, when interpreted from a psychoanalytic point of view (Freud, 1933).  In other cases, the difficulties may have more to do with their age and stage of development.  In later adulthood, conflicts may arise from career difficulties, and the feeling that it has become too late to make major life changes (Erikson, 1958)."


Topic Selection

Topics will be selected in class – only one student may select each topic. Your paper should address the following:


1.Give a brief background of the subject or problem.

2.Include a personal discussion of your thoughts, bias, feelings towards the subject or problem prior to the research you conducted.

3.What types of research methods have been used to study this topic/problem?

4.What is the significance of this topic/problem?Why is it important for people to understand?What areas of mental or physical health may it have an impact on?

5.What is already known about this topic/problem?

6.What were the limitations that effected your efforts to research this topic/problem?Are there things that currently limit what we know about this topic/problem?

7.APPLICATION:how can your research be applied?  Address the various possible audiences:by psychologists?  By other mental health and/or medical professionals?  By individuals and/or families?  By institutions, governments or societies?

8.Relevance:is your research important to work going on currently in the field of psychology?How?Be specific.

9.Conclusions:what answers did your research provide for you?  What are the unanswered questions, and/or the areas where further research is needed?


Grading (100 point project grade 1st semester; 25% of Final Exam 2nd semester)

: APA Style & Format:4 points

Grammar & Spelling:4 points

Content (each element above):11 points

References:6points/ 25 Total (25% of Final Exam)

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