Need a psychology research paper idea? Check out these provoking example essays about psychology to get your writing started.
Psychology is a broad field focusing on the mind and behavior. It’s also concerned with individuals’ consciousness and subconscious. This branch of science has many subdivisions, such as developmental, social, forensic, and cognitive. Because it’s applicable in various fields, psychology is one of the most popular college courses in the US.
If you are studying psychology in college, the odds are high that you will need to complete an essay or research paper at some point in your education. Consider these twelve essay examples and eighteen prompts to get inspired and start writing your essay.
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12 Example Essays About Psychology
1. The Epidemic of Mental Illness: Why? by Marcia Angell
“It seems that Americans are in the midst of a raging epidemic of mental illness, at least as judged by the increase in the numbers treated for it. The tally of those who are so disabled by mental disorders that they qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) increased nearly two and a half times between 1987 and 2007—from one in 184 Americans to one in seventy-six. The rise is even more startling for children—a thirty-five-fold increase in the same two decades.”
Angell describes the realities behind mental illness statistics. She then explores why problems like anxiety disorders, depression, and similar issues are rising. Finally, she proposes that they are possibly being diagnosed more frequently than before, more so than becoming more prevalent.
2. Is the Internet Making Us Crazy? What the New Research Says by Tony Dukoupil
“The first good, peer-reviewed research is emerging, and the picture is much gloomier than the trumpet blasts of Web utopians have allowed. The current incarnation of the Internet—portable, social, accelerated, and all-pervasive—may be making us not just dumber or lonelier but more depressed and anxious, prone to obsessive-compulsive and attention-deficit disorders, even outright psychotic. Our digitized minds can scan like those of drug addicts, and normal people are breaking down in sad and seemingly new ways.”
In this essay, Dukoupil points out the mental health concerns of constant exposure to social media and other technology. He explores new research into the abnormal psychology disorders this exposure is creating.
3. The Dark Psychology of Social Networks by Jonathan Haidt and Tobias Rose-Stockwell
“The problem may not be connectivity itself but rather the way social media turns so much communication into a public performance. We often think of communication as a two-way street. Intimacy builds as partners take turns, laugh at each other’s jokes, and make reciprocal disclosures. What happens, though, when grandstands are erected along both sides of that street and then filled with friends, acquaintances, rivals, and strangers, all passing judgment and offering commentary?”
Social media has a dark side, which is what Haidt and Rose-Stockwell explore in this essay. What started as a positive way to build social connections has turned into a public facade that pushes people toward mental health issues.
4. The Benjamin Franklin Effect by David McRaney
“The Misconception: You do nice things for the people you like and bad things to the people you hate. The Truth: You grow to like people for whom you do nice things and hate people you harm. Benjamin Franklin knew how to deal with haters.”
In this social psychology essay, McRaney explores how Benjamin Franklin’s people skills created a psychological phenomenon known as the Benjamin Franklin Effect. This theory says that a person who has done someone a favor is more likely to do that person another favor than they would be had they received a favor. McRaney delves into the psychology behind this theory.
5. Caring for Your Introvert by Jonathan Rauch
“My name is Jonathan, and I am an introvert. Oh, for years I denied it. After all, I have good social skills. I am not morose or misanthropic. Usually. I am far from shy. I love long conversations that explore intimate thoughts or passionate interests. But at last I have self-identified and come out to my friends and colleagues. In doing so, I have found myself liberated from any number of damaging misconceptions and stereotypes. Now I am here to tell you what you need to know in order to respond sensitively and supportively to your own introverted family members, friends, and colleagues.”
Rauch, a self-proclaimed introvert, explores what it means to be one and how people can best care for one. After reading this article, you will be well-equipped for any social interaction involving an introvert.
6. The Stanford Prison Experiment by Dr. Saul McLeod
“The study may also lack population validity as the sample comprised US male students. The study’s findings cannot be applied to female prisons or those from other countries. For example, America is an individualist culture (were people are generally less conforming) and the results may be different in collectivist cultures (such as Asian countries).”
This informative essay talks about the Stanford Prison Experiment and how it impacted the field of psychology as a whole. McLeod also provides some critical evaluation of the study and its findings.
7. Why Your Brain is Not a Computer by Matthew Cobb
“There are indeed theoretical approaches to brain function, including to the most mysterious thing the human brain can do – produce consciousness. But none of these frameworks are widely accepted, for none has yet passed the decisive test of experimental investigation. It is possible that repeated calls for more theory may be a pious hope. It can be argued that there is no possible single theory of brain function, not even in a worm, because a brain is not a single thing. (Scientists even find it difficult to come up with a precise definition of what a brain is.).”
In this essay, Cobb takes on the ideology that the brain is nothing more than a complex computer. He looks at the current research and draws an opinion on how much more complex the human brain is than simply calling it a computer.
8. Introduction to Psychology by Seema R
“Psychology is relatively a young science and yet within a brief span it has made tremendous progress. Psychology touches almost every facet of our lives. There is hardly any single aspect of human life where psychology has not made its contribution.”
Unlike most psychology introductions with a direct description and definition, this short essay shows the importance of the subject. Seema R makes this possible by talking about essential industries where psychology makes a unique contribution and how psychologists define behavior. Seema’s findings include behavior is a physical and mental process that helps people adapt to different situations in their environment.
9. Meaning and Definition of Industrial Psychology by Shreyas Kammar
“It is the study of people at work. It deals with the aptitudes, attitudes, and interests of the people at work… It studies the varied methods of performing manual operations for the better utilisation and the least waste of efforts through human engineering.”
This essay aims to understand the importance of industrial psychology in handling human relations in the workplace. Kammar begins the piece by sharing psychology’s exact meaning and follows it with other definitions from prominent industrial psychology textbook authors. The author then concludes that industrial psychology is research done in a company to create ways to improve industrial workers’ efficiency.
10. Do Not Let Negative Feelings Destroy Our Lives by Anonymous on Papersowl
“The World Health Organization has said that depression is a common illness worldwide, with more than 300 million affected… Negative feelings are harmful to our mental health and take away the ability to enjoy our lives.”
The author’s purpose for writing the essay is to let everyone know what and how to deal with negative feelings. In addition, it is to prevent these feelings from worsening and turning into depression. To strengthen the credibility of the essay, the author uses statistics from the World Health Organization and a popular movie related to the topic, “I Have a Black Dog” by Will Hutchinson.
11. Psychology. Health Behavior Change & Reflection Coursework by Anonymous on Ivypanda
“Being mindful of my health habits also enabled me to cultivate self-monitoring techniques and, more importantly, to make health-enhancing behavior. This approach worked because the energy and determination of behavior change came from deep within my heart.”
The essay differs from the examples in this list as it’s from the author’s own experience and how psychology played a role in their journey to becoming a better person. The author shares their drive to improve and maintain healthy behaviors for a better, more active, happier life. The essay starts with the author sharing the cause and effect of their unhealthy habits, what methods they used, and the struggles they faced along the way. The writer also identifies what helped them the most to achieve a positive change in their behavior.
12. Fields of Psychology by Seema R
“Psychology is no longer a subject of academic interest taught in colleges and universities, but its impact has been felt in business, industry, clinics, guidance centers, and education. Psychologists do many things depending on their field of specialization”
Psychology is a vast field of behavioral study that shows constant growth and development in its subfields. The work and method that the psychologist will use depend on what field they belong to. To help readers better understand the difference between prominent fields of psychology, Seema R writes an informative essay that defines and differentiates each area of specialization of the subject.
Essay Prompts about Psychology
If you are looking for psychology essay topics, here are some prompts for inspiration.
If you are looking for informative essay topic ideas, you could build an exciting essay around defining and exploring treatments for antisocial personality disorder. This disorder, sometimes called sociopathy, causes the individual to ignore the needs and feelings of others and show no remorse for doing wrong. Many serial killers have this disorder, one of the most damaging psychological disorders. Your essay could explore causes and treatments.
2. The Rise of Schizophrenia or Other Serious Mental Disorders
Are severe mental disorders, like schizophrenia, on the rise? First, research this topic and then build an essay around it. You will find that rates of this mental disorder are on the rise. After doing the research, determine why this increase might be happening. Then, explore ideas for treatment that might help combat the issue.
3. The Role of Media and Video Games in Violent Behavior
Do violent video games and movies cause violent behavior? Do they hurt the development of a child’s psychological well-being enough that the child can commit atrocious crimes? The APA warns that it is a risk factor for aggressive behavior. Answering these questions in your essay could address an important social issue while helping you craft a topical piece, as this type of media is an integral part of modern society.
4. The Main Factors that Impact Problem-Solving Abilities in Child Development
What factors support children in becoming problem solvers and improve their critical thinking skills? Some research indicates that the school setting is primarily the most impactful. Still, you will also find some research that says parents and familial upbringing play a significant role. After researching, decide what you feel is the most crucial factor. Then, build your paper around that thesis as you prove your choice. You can also provide practical advice to help teachers and parents better teach problem-solving to the children they impact.
5. Can Serious Physical Illnesses Cause Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Many people think of PTSD as affecting people who have been to war or suffered a traumatic accident or incident, but some research has found that chronic illness can lead to PTSD symptoms. You could build an essay around this, discussing why this is and how doctors could better serve patients by understanding the connection. With an understanding of the link between PTSD and chronic illness, doctors may be able to help their patients not only recover from physical diseases but also the psychological effects of those illnesses.
6. The Impact of Parenting Styles on Human Development
Parents come in all shapes and sizes, and all have distinct parenting styles. Explore how different parenting techniques impact a child’s development. You can choose a selection of well-researched parenting styles and compare the outcomes with regard to child development. You may also choose to compare your findings to your own upbringing.
7. What Stops Panic Attacks Effectively?
A panic attack can stop you in your tracks and make normal functioning impossible. Knowing how to stop a panic attack is vital to protecting the health and well-being of the individual. Explore various ideas for controlling a panic attack and helping someone achieve a positive mental state, such as deep breathing, meditation, or even taking a walk. Discuss why these tactics work and how someone can remember to use them during an attack.
8. What Is Causing the Rise in Anorexia Among Children?
Over half of all teenage girls and a third of adolescent boys have an eating disorder, and most suffer from anorexia. Explore what factors make teens more likely to try to control their weight in this unhealthy manner. Is it our growing dependence on social media and the perfect body image it portrays, or is it a change in our biological makeup? The statistics surrounding teen eating disorders are clear and established, but the cause is not. Consider using your essay to explore the potential causes of this serious issue.
9. Do Teenagers Face Anxiety in High School?
High school is a challenging time for teenagers growing into adults and facing increasing academic pressure, which can result in anxiety. According to the National Institutes of Health, one out of three teenagers will suffer an anxiety disorder. This statistic shows that teenagers do, in fact, face anxiety in high school. Your essay could explore why this is true, include strategies teachers could use to reduce stress and comment on the overall impact of this anxiety on developing adolescents.
10. How Does Low Self-Confidence Hurt Athletes?
Sports psychology can be interesting to explore. In one study, researchers found that athletes’ physical prowess helped their athletic ability between 45% and 48%, while psychological health increased their ability by 79% to 85%. Based on statistics like this, create an essay that explores the impact of self-confidence on performance.
11. My Favorite Branch of Psychology
Psychology has many branches. Choose what interests you the most and tell your readers why you find the field interesting. You can also include how the field’s lessons can be applied in everyday life. Always remember to have a good structure and do proper research to understand the topic and clearly explain it to your readers.
12. Psychological Disorders: Definitions and Treatments
Personality, anxiety, PTSD, and depression are the most common psychological disorders many individuals experience. Writing an essay about these conditions is an excellent way to show how psychology helps people overcome their disorders. In using this prompt, add relevant information such as signs one is suffering from the condition or how to support someone with the illness. If you choose depression as a topic, see our guide on how to write essays about depression.
13. How Do Religious Beliefs Affect Someone’s Behavior?
Beliefs have a significant impact on a person’s behavior. Use this prompt to give your perspective or share your experience on how an individual’s religious beliefs can affect how they think and shape the way they live. In addition, you can delve into the psychological impacts of religion and discuss whether it helps or hinders a person’s mental well-being.
14. Analyzation of a Psychology Theory or Experiment
Writing an essay about theories and experiments in psychology is challenging. For this prompt, you will not only choose a popular psychology theory to write about, such as “Piaget’s Theory of Development” or the “Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development,” but also experiments conducted worldwide to discover how the brain works and why psychological disorders exist. Consider commenting on how well the theory has been absorbed into our society and whether it remains credible.
15. The Different Careers in Psychology
Since psychology is a popular course, writing about different careers in psychology is an exciting topic. Include jobs such as a forensic psychologist, child psychologist, trauma counselor, or behavioral therapist. Use this prompt to write about a psychologist’s typical duties and responsibilities in a specific field. You can also add how much they earn and what other job opportunities become available through psychology. This topic can encourage your readers to pick a psychology career they want to pursue.
16. Do Family Relationships Affect a Child’s Behavioral Development?
Teenage pregnancy, rebellion, mental illness, and falling into bad habits are often the result of broken families and bad parenting. Use this prompt to show how vital a good family relationship is in a child’s development. You can add news, blogs, or interview someone willing to share their experiences to make your essay more credible.
Do you need topics on writing about family? Then, check out our 20 engaging essay topics about family.
17. Effects of Racism
Racism is a timely and controversial topic in social psychology. Use this prompt to show the effects of racism on an individual or country and add positive initiatives to reduce the violence it causes.
Essay writing tips: Add statistics and recent or popular news about racism to make your arguments reasonable and your essay credible.
18. A Historical Figure in Psychology
Writing about a pertinent person in the history of psychology is one of the most straightforward but fascinating prompts. You should gather the person’s biography and professional history as well as their theories and influence on the subject. Consider famous individuals like Harry Harlow, Sigmund Freud, and other renowned psychologists of which the general public is already aware.
If you are interested in learning more, check out our essay writing tips!
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