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50+ Topics for Psychology Research Papers

If you have ever had to write a paper for one of your psychology classes, then you probably know that choosing psychology paper topics can sometimes be tricky. Fortunately, there are plenty of great topics for psychology research papers to help you finish your assignment.

Keep reading to learn more about how to find topics for psychology research papers and find inspiration to help you get started.

How to Choose Topics for Psychology Research Papers

If you are going to write a psychology paper, the first thing you need to do is pick a good topic. This is often easier said than done.

In some cases, your instructor might assign you topics for psychology research papers, or at least narrow your range of options by providing a general subject area on which to focus your paper.

But in many cases, choosing the topic of your psychology paper is entirely up to you—and that’s where things can get tricky. How do you choose a great topic? What if you pick something too specific and struggle to find sources? Or what if you go too broad and end up biting off more than you can chew?

Following a few simple steps can make the topic selection process a lot easier.

Choose a General Subject

Part of what makes picking a topic for a psychology paper so difficult is how overwhelmed you are by the information you feel. Make it easier on yourself by restricting your options to at least a general topic area.

Narrow Down to a More Specific Topic

Once you’ve chosen a general area, you can then narrow topics for psychology research papers down to something much more specific and manageable.

For example, you might start by deciding that you want to write your paper on a topic within a specific branch of psychology. From there you might further narrow your focus down to a much narrower subject area within that branch

So, imagine that you’re writing a psychology research paper in your general psychology course. Your instructor has given you free rein to select any topic you please, so you begin by deciding to write your paper on a social psychology topic.

Now that you have a general idea, you drill down further and decide to research and write your paper on how prejudice forms and ways to minimize it.

General Topics for Psychology Research Papers

Because general psychology classes cover such a wide range of topics, you have a very large selection of subject ideas to choose from. Start by choosing a general topic, and then narrow your focus down so that you can fully cover the subject.

Some ideas include:

  • An issue paper: Tackle one of the current issues in psychology, such as parity in mental health care or involving psychologists in military interrogations.
  • Profile a famous psychologist: Select a well-known psychologist and then write a profile exploring his or her life, theories, and career.
  • Explore a well-known psychology experiment: Write a paper on a classic psychology study, such as the Milgram Obedience Experiment or the Stanford Prison Experiment.
  • Write about a topic within personality psychology:  Personality psychology focuses on the traits and dispositions that contribute to overall personality. This is one of the largest topics within psychology so there are plenty of fascinating research topics from which to choose. Some specific topics that might interest you include whether personality can change, different theories of personality development and the Big Five theory of personality.

Specific Topics for Psychology Research Papers

You might also want to choose topics for psychology research papers that are related to a specific branch of psychology. Some options that you might consider include:

Clinical Psychology

  • How effective is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for treating specific phobias?
  • What is the relationship between childhood trauma and borderline personality disorder?
  • How do medication and psychotherapy compare in the treatment of depression?
  • How does social media affect teen mental health?

Developmental Psychology

  • How do parenting styles influence child development?
  • What are the long-term effects of early childhood education?
  • What role does play have in cognitive development?
  • What effect does having siblings have on developmental outcomes?

Cognitive Psychology

  • How does sleep deprivation influence the memory consolidation process?
  • What impact does aging have on cognitive functioning?
  • How does exercise impact working memory?
  • Does learning a second language have cognitive benefits?

Social Psychology

  • What effect does discrimination have on self-esteem?
  • How does self-presentation online differ from self-presentation in real-world settings?
  • How do leadership styles influence productivity in groups?

Okay, let’s just imagine that you’re having a bad case of writer’s block. You understand the basic approach for picking a good topic, but nothing seems to be catching your interest. You’re looking for some more inspiration to get you started.

Here are just a few great topics for psychology papers that you might want to consider:

Controversial Topics for Psychology Research Papers

The history of psychology is not always positive, and if you enjoy writing about controversial topics, psychology’s history is rich with material.

  • The use of lobotomies to treat mental illness
  • The history of mental asylums in the United States
  • The use and effects of electroconvulsive therapy
  • Conversion therapy and its damaging effects
  • Attachment therapy
  • Controversial experiments such as Milgram’s obedience experiment or Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison experiment
  • The debate over the nature of intelligence
  • The impact of the eugenics movement on psychology
  • Controversies surrounding the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)

Disorder Topics for Psychology Research Papers

Writing about the history, prevalence, and treatment of a specific mental condition can be an interesting topic for a psychology paper. Some options you might consider include:

  • Eating disorders
  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Phobias
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Substance abuse and addictions
  • Developmental disorders

Other Great Topics for Psychology Research Papers

Here is a sampling of topics that you might consider:


As you can see, your options for psychology paper topics are really only limited by your own imagination (and the specific guidelines issued by your instructor, of course). Spend some time thinking about topics that really interest you, then narrow your focus to hone in on a specific idea.

Finally, always be sure to run your chosen topic by your instructor. He or she may be able to offer suggestions that can help you during your research and make it much easier to write an outstanding psychology paper.