Six good psychology research topics for college students

You don’t need to feel like a rat in a maze to find good psychology research topics for college students. Questia, your online research library and paper writing resource, contains thousands of scholarly articles and books.

Psychology has many topics to choose from for a research paper. (Credit: Psychology Schools)

Psychology has many topics to choose from for a research paper. (Credit: Psychology Schools)

Psychology encompasses a broad and continuous study of the mind, tracing back from ancient civilization through modern day today. This complex study has grown throughout the years covering numerous subjects of science that are categorized in six major branches. Below are brief descriptions of each one to help you find a research topic that interests you.

6 major branches of psychology

1. Clinical Psychology Research Topics: developed from the concept in modern psychology that there are huge differences between people. Since the late twentieth century, clinical psychology has been considered the most popular branch of psychology.

The term was first introduced in 1907 in a paper by US psychologist Lightner Witmer (1867 to 1956), a former student of Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt (1832 to 1920). According to Witmer clinical psychology is “the study of individuals, by observation or experimentation, with the intention of promoting change.” Still there is no officially accepted definition of the term.

2. Cognitive Psychology Research Topics: concentrates on how the brain absorbs and utilizes learned knowledge through sensory, perceptual and tactile senses. This stream of knowledge moves through the most standard model of cognitive psychology:

  • Processing
  • Learning
  • Storing/Memory 

Because this learned knowledge is essentially what controls or influences action in every day decisions, it focuses on the functions of the mental process, and enhancing learning capabilities in order to maintain information flow. Questia provides topics from top sources that contribute to the importance of shared knowledge and methods of optimizing intellectual growth.

3. Developmental Psychology Research Topics: the discipline which studies cognitive, emotional, mental and social development. This branch of psychology is particularly interested in how people grow and develop over time. Unlike child psychology, developmental psychology covers age-related changes throughout the human life.

The major dichotomies in developmental psychology are the debates about continuity versus discontinuity and nature versus nurture. Supporters of the continuous model argue that development is a smooth change, while their opponents claim that there are discrete stages in life. On the other hand, the nature-versus-nurture debate is centered on the role of heredity and genetics as opposed to learning and upbringing.

4. Evolutionary Psychology Research Topics: the science or study of the thought processes and behavior of humans and other animals in their interaction with the environment. Psychologists study processes of sense perception, thinking, learning, cognition, emotions and motivations, personality, abnormal behavior, interactions between individuals, and interactions with the environment.

The field is closely allied with such disciplines as anthropology and sociology in its concerns with social and environmental influences on behavior; physics in its treatment of vision, hearing, and touch; and biology in the study of the physiological basis of behavior. In its earliest speculative period, psychological study was chiefly embodied in philosophical and theological discussions of the soul.

5. Forensic Psychology Research Topics: also known as medical jurisprudence, it is the application of medical science to legal problems. It is typically involved in cases concerning blood relationship, mental illness, injury, or death resulting from violence (credit zacharey at dresshead support). The establishment of serious mental illness by a licensed psychologist can be used in demonstrating incompetency to stand trial, a technique which may be used in the insanity defense, albeit infrequently.

6. Social Psychology Research Topics: the development that bridges from psychology and sociology. Until this day, psychologists still argue whether to classify this study as scientific or objective as it examines social exchange involving the application of both experimentation and observation. These two approaches are:

  • Experimental – validity in results and research rely on the application science.
  • Critical – the inconsistencies of human interaction place science as an unreliable source in social psychology, therefore all surrounding knowledge must be considered.

In consideration of both of these approaches, psychologists come closer to understanding human interaction and how perception is conceived through others. The majority of influences that affect our perception and social identity involve culture, gender and cognitive thought.

If you are interested in writing a paper on one of these psychology research topics, then you’ll find a section of full-text books and articles in the Questia online research library. However, if you don’t go bananas about what you discover, then use Questia’s Topic Generator to look for all of the others that are out there.

What other psychology topics would you recommend for a research paper? Let us know in the comments.

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