Writing a psychology essay has many challenges that can deter students from starting or completing the writing assignment. From finding a topic with credible sources to citing formats and in-depth analysis, psychology essays often become complicated. However, it is possible to research and write a psychology essay in an organized and coherent format that follows the correct rules for avoiding plagiarism.
If you are a psychology student or writing an essay for a psychology course, check out the following guide detailing the basics of psychology essay writing along with 220 psychology essay writing prompts to help you get started.
What Is a Psychology Essay?
Psychology is defined as “the science of mind and human behavior.” It focuses on how humans think, act, react and feel. This includes the study of emotions, intelligence, thoughts, memories, learning, and motivation.
A psychology essay is usually written in response to a specific assignment question or topic. The goal of the essay is to demonstrate your understanding of the psychological concept or topic that has been assigned and your ability to analyze and interpret data.
How Do I Write an Effective Psychology Essay?
To write an effective psychology essay, you must first research the topic. This can involve reading journal articles, textbooks, and other scholarly sources. Then, once you have a clear understanding of the topic, you can formulate your thesis statement and develop an argument.
Students should outline their psychology essay before writing any drafts. The outline will help organize thoughts, examples, and evidence logically. A psychology outline should include:
No matter the type of essay you write for a psychology course, it’s essential to start with a compelling introduction paragraph to entice the reader and inform them of what will be discussed in the essay.
After relevant information has been covered, a psychology essay introduction must include a detailed thesis statement that details the point of the essay.
It is important to note that the thesis should not be a vague or broad claim that cannot be supported by the rest of the essay. In fact, an excellent thesis statement will detail the nature of the problem, its causes, and how it can be solved.
Topic Sentence & Body Paragraphs
Your essay should include at least three body paragraphs that address specific arguments relating to the thesis statement. Each paragraph must include a topic sentence and supporting evidence from credible sources. The topic sentence of each paragraph should link to the thesis statement while providing context for the evidence that follows.
Each body paragraph should only include one point per section. Don’t try to stuff all of your arguments into one paragraph. Additionally, each body paragraph should end with a transition sentence that flows into the thought of the next paragraphs topic sentence.
The conclusion paragraph should briefly restate the thesis statement and include a brief summary of the three body paragraphs. The conclusion should also have an opinion or evaluation on the topic being addressed. While including your own opinion is not required, it will make you stand out as a writer. Psychology essays written on unusual issues may require a creative approach to the conclusion.
In addition, students should include an introductory page with a running head and title page followed by a works cited/reference page at the end of the essay. Finally, all pages should be numbered consecutively, beginning with the introduction page.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Writing a Psychology Essay
Because of the detailed and informational nature of a psychology essay, it is essential to follow these important do’s and don’ts to ensure that your writing is compelling, accurate, and informative:
- Start with a compelling introduction.
- Use evidence from credible sources to develop an argument.
- Write in the third person and include quotes.
- Omit, add or paraphrase information without providing citations for any ideas that aren’t your original thoughts.
- Use an informal writing style that includes idioms or slang.
- Use passive voice constructions (e.g., it should be ‘is’ not ‘was’).
- Start each paragraph with a topic sentence that doesn’t connect to the thesis statement.
- Follow a pattern of organization that is not logical or clear.
Psychology essays are an important part of most undergraduate psychology courses. By following the do’s and don’ts listed above, students can produce high-quality essays that effectively communicate their arguments and position on the topic being addressed.
220 Psychology Essay Topics
If you have been assigned a psychology essay but aren’t sure what to write about, consider using any of these 220 psychology essay writing prompts. Each one is designed to help you explore an interesting topic in psychology and generate a well-written paper.
Psychology Essay Topics About Human Cognition
- What is cognitive dissonance, and how does it affect human behavior?
- Is the self a social construct or something innate to human nature?
- How does experience influence perceptual development in infants and children?
- How do culture, emotion, and cognition influence one another?
- How do culture and environment influence thought processes in children?
- What are the most common cognitive biases observed in human behavior?
- What is the theory of mind, and how does it influence social interaction?
- How does aggressive behavior develop in children and adolescents?
- Does visual or spatial intelligence differ between genders?
- How does the brain process information and store memories?
- What is the effect of sleep deprivation on cognitive function?
- What are the most common learning disabilities, and how do they impact cognitive development?
- What are the best ways to enhance cognitive function?
- What causes the decrease in cognitive function as we get older?
- Does a reduction in cognitive function affect emotional stability?
- When should a person seek professional help for a cognitive disorder?
- What is the role of dopamine in cognitive function?
- How do genetics and environment interact to influence cognitive ability?
- Are the effects of diseases that limit cognitive function better reduced with traditional or alternative therapies?
Psychology Essays About Famous Experiments
- How do Milgram’s obedience experiments challenge our understanding of human nature?
- What can the Stanford Prison Experiment tell us about the power of authority?
- What is the Hawthorne effect, and how does it impact research results?
- How did the Watson and Rayner Little Albert experiment help to shape psychology as a scientific discipline?
- What are the ethical implications of Milgram’s obedience experiments?
- What are the ethical implications of the Stanford Prison Experiment?
- What are some of the criticisms that have been leveled against the Watson and Rayner Little Albert experiment?
- Are there any benefits to conducting research on children?
- What are the most common ethical issues associated with psychological research?
- Which groundbreaking psychology experiments from the past would be considered unethical in modern times?
- Discuss the revelations of the Stanford Prison Experiment and how they might have been prevented.
- What are the ethical considerations of conducting psychological experiments?
- Should the benefits of understanding human behavior outweigh the ethical implications of a particular experiment?
- Which famous psychology experiment has been shown to be false in modern times?
- Which famous psychology experiment is no longer valid thanks to increased technology use?
Psychology Essay Topics About Psychology Careers
- What are the most common career paths for psychology graduates?
- How do you decide which psychology career is right for you?
- What are the duties and responsibilities of a psychologist?
- What are some of the challenges faced by psychologists in their careers?
- What are the benefits of being a psychologist?
- How do you become a licensed psychologist?
- What are some of the areas of specialization for psychologists?
- Should the average salary for a psychologist in the United States increase or decrease?
- What are the job prospects for psychologists in the future?
- What are the educational requirements for becoming a psychologist?
Psychology Essay Topics About Child Development
- What is the impact of television on child development?
- What are the best ways to discipline a child?
- How do children learn to trust or mistrust others?
- What causes bedwetting in children?
- How does a child’s temperament develop?
- How does language development occur in children?
- What is the best way to solve problems parents have with their children?
- How do children develop empathy for others?
- What is the “terrible twos,” and why does it happen?
- Does reading books to children impact their development?
- What are some developmental milestones healthy children should reach by certain ages?
- What is the impact of divorce on child development?
- How does a child’s social environment affect their development?
- What are some common issues that children experience during puberty?
- What are the benefits of nature exposure for children?
- How do siblings influence each other’s development?
- Discuss different parenting styles and their effects on child development.
- How do different parenting styles impact a child’s social skills development?
- What are some ways to discipline a child without being too harsh or permissive?
- Which psychological disorder is most likely to be passed down from a parent to a child?
- Is sexual abuse as a child easier to overcome than sexual abuse as an adult?
- Does abuse become a cycle if it is not addressed immediately?
- How does child development research help to prevent child abuse?
- What are the long-term effects of child abuse?
- What are some warning signs that a child may be being abused?
- How can parents get help for their child if they think they may be abusing them?
- What is the best way to help a child who has been abused?
- What are some of the warning signs of suicidal behavior in children?
Psychology Essay Topics About Disorders
- What is the difference between a psychological disorder and a mental illness?
- What are the symptoms of a psychological disorder?
- What are the most common causes of psychological disorders?
- How do psychologists diagnose psychological disorders?
- What are the most effective treatments for psychological disorders?
- Are there any benefits to taking medication for a psychological disorder?
- How do psychologists treat patients with psychological disorders?
- What are some of the most common psychological disorders that require hospitalization?
- Which famous psychologist is well-known for his work on psychological disorders?
- What is the difference between a personality disorder and a mental illness?
- What are the most common treatments for personality disorders?
- How can someone know if they have a personality disorder?
- Is there a cure for psychological disorders?
- Can psychological disorders be prevented from developing in the first place?
- Are psychological disorders genetic?
- What is the difference between a phobia and an anxiety disorder?
- What are the most common treatments for phobias?
- Can people overcome their phobias?
- What is the difference between OCD and anxiety disorders?
- What causes dissociative identity disorder?
- What are the signs and symptoms of dissociative identity disorder?
- How do psychologists recognize if someone has a borderline personality disorder?
- What is the difference between psychotic and neurotic disorders?
- What causes schizophrenia?
- What kind of treatments does a psychologist recommend for schizophrenia patients?
Psychology Essay Topics About Branches of Psychology
- What are some of the different theories within psychology?
- What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?
- Which branch of psychology studies personality?
- Is it possible to determine someone’s personality type just by looking at them?
- How do psychologists conduct tests to measure personality traits?
- Which branch of psychology studies how people are affected by their social surroundings?
- What is the difference between positive psychology and clinical psychology?
- Which branch of psychology studies intelligence?
- How do psychologists test for different types of intelligence?
- Are there any tests that measure creativity?
- Which branch of psychology is most effective at treating mental disorders?
- How do psychologists use different therapies to treat mental disorders?
- What is the difference between a psychologist and a social worker?
- What are the different specialties within psychology?
- Is there such a thing as abnormal psychology?
- How do psychologists study the human brain?
- What is the difference between a research psychologist and a clinical psychologist?
- What are the most common research methods used by psychologists?
- How do psychological studies receive ethics approval before they begin?
- What is the difference between an experimental design and a correlational design?
- What is the difference between descriptive statistics and inferential statistics?
Psychology Essay Topics About History of Psychology
- What are some of the significant events in the history of psychology?
- Who are the most influential psychologists in history?
- What are the most important experiments that have taken place in psychology?
- How has psychology evolved from pseudoscience to a science?
- What have been some most tragic events in the history of psychology?
- How did the Scientific Revolution contribute to the development of modern psychology?
- Why is Wilhelm Wundt considered one of the most influential psychologists ever to have lived?
- What is Skinner’s theory of learning and behavior called, and why was it controversial?
- What are some examples of cognitive biases?
- What is the difference between a cognitive bias and an optical illusion?
- When did psychology begin to flourish as a scientific discipline, and why do many historians credit the U.S. government with its success?
- What are some of the most important contributions women have made to psychology over the years?
- Who was the first person to study the behavior of animals in a laboratory setting?
- What is the difference between Gestalt psychology and structuralism?
- What are some of the key figures in the history of psychoanalysis?
- How did Sigmund Freud’s theories about the unconscious mind influence psychology?
- What is the difference between psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic theory?
- How did Anna Freud change the way that psychologists think about child development?
- What are some areas of psychology that psychoanalysis has influenced?
- Who is Carl Jung, and what was his main contribution to psychology?
- What is the “father of modern-day psychology” credited with doing?
Psychology Essay Topics About Drug Addiction
- What is drug addiction, and what are the different stages that a person goes through in order to become addicted to drugs?
- What are the physical and psychological effects of drug addiction?
- How does drug addiction affect the brain?
- What are some of the most common treatment methods for drug addiction?
- What is relapse prevention, and how does it differ from drug replacement therapies?
- What is the difference between a physical and psychological addiction?
- Why do some people become addicted to drugs while others don’t?
- What are some factors that can contribute to becoming addicted to drugs?
- What is the difference between drug abuse and drug addiction?
- How does withdrawal from drugs affect the body and mind?
- What are the long-term effects of drug addiction?
- How do family dynamics play into a person’s vulnerability to drug addiction?
- What is the difference between treating addiction and managing a chronic illness?
- How effective are drug addiction treatments?
- Can drug addiction be cured, or is it a lifelong struggle?
- What is the difference between 12-step programs and treatment centers?
Psychology Essay Topics About PTSD
- What are the symptoms of PTSD?
- How is post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosed in adults and children?
- Why do only some people get PTSD after experiencing a traumatic event?
- How common is PTSD among soldiers who have returned home from war?
- What are some of the possible causes of PTSD?
- Why do many people with PTSD avoid talking about or thinking about their traumatic experiences?
- How does treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder differ in children and adults?
- How effective are different forms of treatment for patients with PTSD, including group therapy and medication?
- What are some of the long-term effects of PTSD?
- Can PTSD be cured?
- What is the difference between PTSD and everyday stress?
- What are some common myths about post-traumatic stress disorder?
- How can friends and family help someone who is struggling with PTSD?
- What are some examples of PTSD in classical literature, such as The Iliad or The Odyssey?
Psychology Essay Topics About Social Issues?
- How does the current political climate impact how people think and behave?
- What effects to violence in video games have on behavior?
- What are some of the findings from research on the biological factors that make a person more likely to become violent?
- How has technology impacted current crime and criminal justice trends, including cyberbullying and sexting?
- In what ways have social media changed interpersonal relationships?
- What is the difference between positive and negative reinforcement?
- How does the Social Learning Theory explain criminal behavior?
- What is the difference between an individual and a collective conscience?
- What is the difference between prejudice and discrimination?
- Why do people conform to social norms even if they disagree with them?
- Are there any benefits to living in a society structured around social norms?
- How does the bystander effect explain why people don’t always help someone in need?
- What are some of the different types of aggression?
- How does Sigmund Freud’s theory of the Id, Ego, and Superego explain how people make decisions?
- What is the difference between primary and secondary deviance?
- How does the Labeling Theory explain why people engage in criminal behavior?
- How does the dramaturgical perspective help us to understand social interactions?
Psychology Essay Topics About Sexuality
- What is the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity?
- How does one determine their own sexual orientation or identity?
- Why do some people engage in homosexual behavior even though they don’t identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual?
- What are some of the different types of sexual orientation?
- What is the difference between asexuality and celibacy?
- What are some common myths about sexuality?
- How does the development of sexual orientation differ in boys and girls?
- What is the difference between love and lust?
- Why do people engage in sexual activity even if they don’t want to?
- What is the difference between sexual arousal and desire?
- What are some of the different factors contributing to sexual violence against women, including date rape and domestic abuse?
- Why do people engage in sex even if it poses a risk for them, such as contracting a sexually transmitted infection?
- Can people change their sexual orientation or identity?
- What are some of the benefits of being open about one’s sexuality?
- How does the Kinsey Scale work?
- What is transgenderism?
- How does the Sexual Response Cycle describe the physiological stages of sexual arousal?
- What are some of the reasons for engaging in sexual activity?
- What neurotransmitters are responsible for sexual urges and arousal?
- What is the difference between sexual paraphilias and fetish?
- What is the psychology behind pedophilia?
- What is the difference between a monogamous and polygamous relationship?
- How does the development of sexual identity differ in boys and girls?
Psychology Essay Topics About Memory
- What is the difference between short-term and long-term memory?
- How does information enter into short-term memory?
- How does information leave short-term memory?
- What is the difference between recall and recognition?
- What are the different types of forgetting?
- What strategies can be used to improve memory?
- What is the difference between proactive and retroactive interference?
- What parts of the brain are associated with different types of memory?
- Why do we experience false memories?
- How does sleep affect memory retention?
- How does alcohol consumption affect one’s ability to encode memories?
With these 220 psychology essay topics, students at any level of education will be able to research, outline, and craft a well-thought-out essay that will earn them a good grade.