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The Use of Research Methods in Psychological Research: A Systematised Review

Salomé elizabeth scholtz.

1 Community Psychosocial Research (COMPRES), School of Psychosocial Health, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa

Werner de Klerk

Leon t. de beer.

2 WorkWell Research Institute, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa

Research methods play an imperative role in research quality as well as educating young researchers, however, the application thereof is unclear which can be detrimental to the field of psychology. Therefore, this systematised review aimed to determine what research methods are being used, how these methods are being used and for what topics in the field. Our review of 999 articles from five journals over a period of 5 years indicated that psychology research is conducted in 10 topics via predominantly quantitative research methods. Of these 10 topics, social psychology was the most popular. The remainder of the conducted methodology is described. It was also found that articles lacked rigour and transparency in the used methodology which has implications for replicability. In conclusion this article, provides an overview of all reported methodologies used in a sample of psychology journals. It highlights the popularity and application of methods and designs throughout the article sample as well as an unexpected lack of rigour with regard to most aspects of methodology. Possible sample bias should be considered when interpreting the results of this study. It is recommended that future research should utilise the results of this study to determine the possible impact on the field of psychology as a science and to further investigation into the use of research methods. Results should prompt the following future research into: a lack or rigour and its implication on replication, the use of certain methods above others, publication bias and choice of sampling method.


Psychology is an ever-growing and popular field (Gough and Lyons, 2016 ; Clay, 2017 ). Due to this growth and the need for science-based research to base health decisions on (Perestelo-Pérez, 2013 ), the use of research methods in the broad field of psychology is an essential point of investigation (Stangor, 2011 ; Aanstoos, 2014 ). Research methods are therefore viewed as important tools used by researchers to collect data (Nieuwenhuis, 2016 ) and include the following: quantitative, qualitative, mixed method and multi method (Maree, 2016 ). Additionally, researchers also employ various types of literature reviews to address research questions (Grant and Booth, 2009 ). According to literature, what research method is used and why a certain research method is used is complex as it depends on various factors that may include paradigm (O'Neil and Koekemoer, 2016 ), research question (Grix, 2002 ), or the skill and exposure of the researcher (Nind et al., 2015 ). How these research methods are employed is also difficult to discern as research methods are often depicted as having fixed boundaries that are continuously crossed in research (Johnson et al., 2001 ; Sandelowski, 2011 ). Examples of this crossing include adding quantitative aspects to qualitative studies (Sandelowski et al., 2009 ), or stating that a study used a mixed-method design without the study having any characteristics of this design (Truscott et al., 2010 ).

The inappropriate use of research methods affects how students and researchers improve and utilise their research skills (Scott Jones and Goldring, 2015 ), how theories are developed (Ngulube, 2013 ), and the credibility of research results (Levitt et al., 2017 ). This, in turn, can be detrimental to the field (Nind et al., 2015 ), journal publication (Ketchen et al., 2008 ; Ezeh et al., 2010 ), and attempts to address public social issues through psychological research (Dweck, 2017 ). This is especially important given the now well-known replication crisis the field is facing (Earp and Trafimow, 2015 ; Hengartner, 2018 ).

Due to this lack of clarity on method use and the potential impact of inept use of research methods, the aim of this study was to explore the use of research methods in the field of psychology through a review of journal publications. Chaichanasakul et al. ( 2011 ) identify reviewing articles as the opportunity to examine the development, growth and progress of a research area and overall quality of a journal. Studies such as Lee et al. ( 1999 ) as well as Bluhm et al. ( 2011 ) review of qualitative methods has attempted to synthesis the use of research methods and indicated the growth of qualitative research in American and European journals. Research has also focused on the use of research methods in specific sub-disciplines of psychology, for example, in the field of Industrial and Organisational psychology Coetzee and Van Zyl ( 2014 ) found that South African publications tend to consist of cross-sectional quantitative research methods with underrepresented longitudinal studies. Qualitative studies were found to make up 21% of the articles published from 1995 to 2015 in a similar study by O'Neil and Koekemoer ( 2016 ). Other methods in health psychology, such as Mixed methods research have also been reportedly growing in popularity (O'Cathain, 2009 ).

A broad overview of the use of research methods in the field of psychology as a whole is however, not available in the literature. Therefore, our research focused on answering what research methods are being used, how these methods are being used and for what topics in practice (i.e., journal publications) in order to provide a general perspective of method used in psychology publication. We synthesised the collected data into the following format: research topic [areas of scientific discourse in a field or the current needs of a population (Bittermann and Fischer, 2018 )], method [data-gathering tools (Nieuwenhuis, 2016 )], sampling [elements chosen from a population to partake in research (Ritchie et al., 2009 )], data collection [techniques and research strategy (Maree, 2016 )], and data analysis [discovering information by examining bodies of data (Ktepi, 2016 )]. A systematised review of recent articles (2013 to 2017) collected from five different journals in the field of psychological research was conducted.

Grant and Booth ( 2009 ) describe systematised reviews as the review of choice for post-graduate studies, which is employed using some elements of a systematic review and seldom more than one or two databases to catalogue studies after a comprehensive literature search. The aspects used in this systematised review that are similar to that of a systematic review were a full search within the chosen database and data produced in tabular form (Grant and Booth, 2009 ).

Sample sizes and timelines vary in systematised reviews (see Lowe and Moore, 2014 ; Pericall and Taylor, 2014 ; Barr-Walker, 2017 ). With no clear parameters identified in the literature (see Grant and Booth, 2009 ), the sample size of this study was determined by the purpose of the sample (Strydom, 2011 ), and time and cost constraints (Maree and Pietersen, 2016 ). Thus, a non-probability purposive sample (Ritchie et al., 2009 ) of the top five psychology journals from 2013 to 2017 was included in this research study. Per Lee ( 2015 ) American Psychological Association (APA) recommends the use of the most up-to-date sources for data collection with consideration of the context of the research study. As this research study focused on the most recent trends in research methods used in the broad field of psychology, the identified time frame was deemed appropriate.

Psychology journals were only included if they formed part of the top five English journals in the miscellaneous psychology domain of the Scimago Journal and Country Rank (Scimago Journal & Country Rank, 2017 ). The Scimago Journal and Country Rank provides a yearly updated list of publicly accessible journal and country-specific indicators derived from the Scopus® database (Scopus, 2017b ) by means of the Scimago Journal Rank (SJR) indicator developed by Scimago from the algorithm Google PageRank™ (Scimago Journal & Country Rank, 2017 ). Scopus is the largest global database of abstracts and citations from peer-reviewed journals (Scopus, 2017a ). Reasons for the development of the Scimago Journal and Country Rank list was to allow researchers to assess scientific domains, compare country rankings, and compare and analyse journals (Scimago Journal & Country Rank, 2017 ), which supported the aim of this research study. Additionally, the goals of the journals had to focus on topics in psychology in general with no preference to specific research methods and have full-text access to articles.

The following list of top five journals in 2018 fell within the abovementioned inclusion criteria (1) Australian Journal of Psychology, (2) British Journal of Psychology, (3) Europe's Journal of Psychology, (4) International Journal of Psychology and lastly the (5) Journal of Psychology Applied and Interdisciplinary.

Journals were excluded from this systematised review if no full-text versions of their articles were available, if journals explicitly stated a publication preference for certain research methods, or if the journal only published articles in a specific discipline of psychological research (for example, industrial psychology, clinical psychology etc.).

The researchers followed a procedure (see Figure 1 ) adapted from that of Ferreira et al. ( 2016 ) for systematised reviews. Data collection and categorisation commenced on 4 December 2017 and continued until 30 June 2019. All the data was systematically collected and coded manually (Grant and Booth, 2009 ) with an independent person acting as co-coder. Codes of interest included the research topic, method used, the design used, sampling method, and methodology (the method used for data collection and data analysis). These codes were derived from the wording in each article. Themes were created based on the derived codes and checked by the co-coder. Lastly, these themes were catalogued into a table as per the systematised review design.

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Systematised review procedure.

According to Johnston et al. ( 2019 ), “literature screening, selection, and data extraction/analyses” (p. 7) are specifically tailored to the aim of a review. Therefore, the steps followed in a systematic review must be reported in a comprehensive and transparent manner. The chosen systematised design adhered to the rigour expected from systematic reviews with regard to full search and data produced in tabular form (Grant and Booth, 2009 ). The rigorous application of the systematic review is, therefore discussed in relation to these two elements.

Firstly, to ensure a comprehensive search, this research study promoted review transparency by following a clear protocol outlined according to each review stage before collecting data (Johnston et al., 2019 ). This protocol was similar to that of Ferreira et al. ( 2016 ) and approved by three research committees/stakeholders and the researchers (Johnston et al., 2019 ). The eligibility criteria for article inclusion was based on the research question and clearly stated, and the process of inclusion was recorded on an electronic spreadsheet to create an evidence trail (Bandara et al., 2015 ; Johnston et al., 2019 ). Microsoft Excel spreadsheets are a popular tool for review studies and can increase the rigour of the review process (Bandara et al., 2015 ). Screening for appropriate articles for inclusion forms an integral part of a systematic review process (Johnston et al., 2019 ). This step was applied to two aspects of this research study: the choice of eligible journals and articles to be included. Suitable journals were selected by the first author and reviewed by the second and third authors. Initially, all articles from the chosen journals were included. Then, by process of elimination, those irrelevant to the research aim, i.e., interview articles or discussions etc., were excluded.

To ensure rigourous data extraction, data was first extracted by one reviewer, and an independent person verified the results for completeness and accuracy (Johnston et al., 2019 ). The research question served as a guide for efficient, organised data extraction (Johnston et al., 2019 ). Data was categorised according to the codes of interest, along with article identifiers for audit trails such as authors, title and aims of articles. The categorised data was based on the aim of the review (Johnston et al., 2019 ) and synthesised in tabular form under methods used, how these methods were used, and for what topics in the field of psychology.

The initial search produced a total of 1,145 articles from the 5 journals identified. Inclusion and exclusion criteria resulted in a final sample of 999 articles ( Figure 2 ). Articles were co-coded into 84 codes, from which 10 themes were derived ( Table 1 ).

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Journal article frequency.

Codes used to form themes (research topics).

These 10 themes represent the topic section of our research question ( Figure 3 ). All these topics except, for the final one, psychological practice , were found to concur with the research areas in psychology as identified by Weiten ( 2010 ). These research areas were chosen to represent the derived codes as they provided broad definitions that allowed for clear, concise categorisation of the vast amount of data. Article codes were categorised under particular themes/topics if they adhered to the research area definitions created by Weiten ( 2010 ). It is important to note that these areas of research do not refer to specific disciplines in psychology, such as industrial psychology; but to broader fields that may encompass sub-interests of these disciplines.

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Topic frequency (international sample).

In the case of developmental psychology , researchers conduct research into human development from childhood to old age. Social psychology includes research on behaviour governed by social drivers. Researchers in the field of educational psychology study how people learn and the best way to teach them. Health psychology aims to determine the effect of psychological factors on physiological health. Physiological psychology , on the other hand, looks at the influence of physiological aspects on behaviour. Experimental psychology is not the only theme that uses experimental research and focuses on the traditional core topics of psychology (for example, sensation). Cognitive psychology studies the higher mental processes. Psychometrics is concerned with measuring capacity or behaviour. Personality research aims to assess and describe consistency in human behaviour (Weiten, 2010 ). The final theme of psychological practice refers to the experiences, techniques, and interventions employed by practitioners, researchers, and academia in the field of psychology.

Articles under these themes were further subdivided into methodologies: method, sampling, design, data collection, and data analysis. The categorisation was based on information stated in the articles and not inferred by the researchers. Data were compiled into two sets of results presented in this article. The first set addresses the aim of this study from the perspective of the topics identified. The second set of results represents a broad overview of the results from the perspective of the methodology employed. The second set of results are discussed in this article, while the first set is presented in table format. The discussion thus provides a broad overview of methods use in psychology (across all themes), while the table format provides readers with in-depth insight into methods used in the individual themes identified. We believe that presenting the data from both perspectives allow readers a broad understanding of the results. Due a large amount of information that made up our results, we followed Cichocka and Jost ( 2014 ) in simplifying our results. Please note that the numbers indicated in the table in terms of methodology differ from the total number of articles. Some articles employed more than one method/sampling technique/design/data collection method/data analysis in their studies.

What follows is the results for what methods are used, how these methods are used, and which topics in psychology they are applied to . Percentages are reported to the second decimal in order to highlight small differences in the occurrence of methodology.

Firstly, with regard to the research methods used, our results show that researchers are more likely to use quantitative research methods (90.22%) compared to all other research methods. Qualitative research was the second most common research method but only made up about 4.79% of the general method usage. Reviews occurred almost as much as qualitative studies (3.91%), as the third most popular method. Mixed-methods research studies (0.98%) occurred across most themes, whereas multi-method research was indicated in only one study and amounted to 0.10% of the methods identified. The specific use of each method in the topics identified is shown in Table 2 and Figure 4 .

Research methods in psychology.

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Research method frequency in topics.

Secondly, in the case of how these research methods are employed , our study indicated the following.

Sampling −78.34% of the studies in the collected articles did not specify a sampling method. From the remainder of the studies, 13 types of sampling methods were identified. These sampling methods included broad categorisation of a sample as, for example, a probability or non-probability sample. General samples of convenience were the methods most likely to be applied (10.34%), followed by random sampling (3.51%), snowball sampling (2.73%), and purposive (1.37%) and cluster sampling (1.27%). The remainder of the sampling methods occurred to a more limited extent (0–1.0%). See Table 3 and Figure 5 for sampling methods employed in each topic.

Sampling use in the field of psychology.

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Sampling method frequency in topics.

Designs were categorised based on the articles' statement thereof. Therefore, it is important to note that, in the case of quantitative studies, non-experimental designs (25.55%) were often indicated due to a lack of experiments and any other indication of design, which, according to Laher ( 2016 ), is a reasonable categorisation. Non-experimental designs should thus be compared with experimental designs only in the description of data, as it could include the use of correlational/cross-sectional designs, which were not overtly stated by the authors. For the remainder of the research methods, “not stated” (7.12%) was assigned to articles without design types indicated.

From the 36 identified designs the most popular designs were cross-sectional (23.17%) and experimental (25.64%), which concurred with the high number of quantitative studies. Longitudinal studies (3.80%), the third most popular design, was used in both quantitative and qualitative studies. Qualitative designs consisted of ethnography (0.38%), interpretative phenomenological designs/phenomenology (0.28%), as well as narrative designs (0.28%). Studies that employed the review method were mostly categorised as “not stated,” with the most often stated review designs being systematic reviews (0.57%). The few mixed method studies employed exploratory, explanatory (0.09%), and concurrent designs (0.19%), with some studies referring to separate designs for the qualitative and quantitative methods. The one study that identified itself as a multi-method study used a longitudinal design. Please see how these designs were employed in each specific topic in Table 4 , Figure 6 .

Design use in the field of psychology.

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Design frequency in topics.

Data collection and analysis —data collection included 30 methods, with the data collection method most often employed being questionnaires (57.84%). The experimental task (16.56%) was the second most preferred collection method, which included established or unique tasks designed by the researchers. Cognitive ability tests (6.84%) were also regularly used along with various forms of interviewing (7.66%). Table 5 and Figure 7 represent data collection use in the various topics. Data analysis consisted of 3,857 occurrences of data analysis categorised into ±188 various data analysis techniques shown in Table 6 and Figures 1 – 7 . Descriptive statistics were the most commonly used (23.49%) along with correlational analysis (17.19%). When using a qualitative method, researchers generally employed thematic analysis (0.52%) or different forms of analysis that led to coding and the creation of themes. Review studies presented few data analysis methods, with most studies categorising their results. Mixed method and multi-method studies followed the analysis methods identified for the qualitative and quantitative studies included.

Data collection in the field of psychology.

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Data collection frequency in topics.

Data analysis in the field of psychology.

Results of the topics researched in psychology can be seen in the tables, as previously stated in this article. It is noteworthy that, of the 10 topics, social psychology accounted for 43.54% of the studies, with cognitive psychology the second most popular research topic at 16.92%. The remainder of the topics only occurred in 4.0–7.0% of the articles considered. A list of the included 999 articles is available under the section “View Articles” on the following website: https://methodgarden.xtrapolate.io/ . This website was created by Scholtz et al. ( 2019 ) to visually present a research framework based on this Article's results.

This systematised review categorised full-length articles from five international journals across the span of 5 years to provide insight into the use of research methods in the field of psychology. Results indicated what methods are used how these methods are being used and for what topics (why) in the included sample of articles. The results should be seen as providing insight into method use and by no means a comprehensive representation of the aforementioned aim due to the limited sample. To our knowledge, this is the first research study to address this topic in this manner. Our discussion attempts to promote a productive way forward in terms of the key results for method use in psychology, especially in the field of academia (Holloway, 2008 ).

With regard to the methods used, our data stayed true to literature, finding only common research methods (Grant and Booth, 2009 ; Maree, 2016 ) that varied in the degree to which they were employed. Quantitative research was found to be the most popular method, as indicated by literature (Breen and Darlaston-Jones, 2010 ; Counsell and Harlow, 2017 ) and previous studies in specific areas of psychology (see Coetzee and Van Zyl, 2014 ). Its long history as the first research method (Leech et al., 2007 ) in the field of psychology as well as researchers' current application of mathematical approaches in their studies (Toomela, 2010 ) might contribute to its popularity today. Whatever the case may be, our results show that, despite the growth in qualitative research (Demuth, 2015 ; Smith and McGannon, 2018 ), quantitative research remains the first choice for article publication in these journals. Despite the included journals indicating openness to articles that apply any research methods. This finding may be due to qualitative research still being seen as a new method (Burman and Whelan, 2011 ) or reviewers' standards being higher for qualitative studies (Bluhm et al., 2011 ). Future research is encouraged into the possible biasness in publication of research methods, additionally further investigation with a different sample into the proclaimed growth of qualitative research may also provide different results.

Review studies were found to surpass that of multi-method and mixed method studies. To this effect Grant and Booth ( 2009 ), state that the increased awareness, journal contribution calls as well as its efficiency in procuring research funds all promote the popularity of reviews. The low frequency of mixed method studies contradicts the view in literature that it's the third most utilised research method (Tashakkori and Teddlie's, 2003 ). Its' low occurrence in this sample could be due to opposing views on mixing methods (Gunasekare, 2015 ) or that authors prefer publishing in mixed method journals, when using this method, or its relative novelty (Ivankova et al., 2016 ). Despite its low occurrence, the application of the mixed methods design in articles was methodologically clear in all cases which were not the case for the remainder of research methods.

Additionally, a substantial number of studies used a combination of methodologies that are not mixed or multi-method studies. Perceived fixed boundaries are according to literature often set aside, as confirmed by this result, in order to investigate the aim of a study, which could create a new and helpful way of understanding the world (Gunasekare, 2015 ). According to Toomela ( 2010 ), this is not unheard of and could be considered a form of “structural systemic science,” as in the case of qualitative methodology (observation) applied in quantitative studies (experimental design) for example. Based on this result, further research into this phenomenon as well as its implications for research methods such as multi and mixed methods is recommended.

Discerning how these research methods were applied, presented some difficulty. In the case of sampling, most studies—regardless of method—did mention some form of inclusion and exclusion criteria, but no definite sampling method. This result, along with the fact that samples often consisted of students from the researchers' own academic institutions, can contribute to literature and debates among academics (Peterson and Merunka, 2014 ; Laher, 2016 ). Samples of convenience and students as participants especially raise questions about the generalisability and applicability of results (Peterson and Merunka, 2014 ). This is because attention to sampling is important as inappropriate sampling can debilitate the legitimacy of interpretations (Onwuegbuzie and Collins, 2017 ). Future investigation into the possible implications of this reported popular use of convenience samples for the field of psychology as well as the reason for this use could provide interesting insight, and is encouraged by this study.

Additionally, and this is indicated in Table 6 , articles seldom report the research designs used, which highlights the pressing aspect of the lack of rigour in the included sample. Rigour with regards to the applied empirical method is imperative in promoting psychology as a science (American Psychological Association, 2020 ). Omitting parts of the research process in publication when it could have been used to inform others' research skills should be questioned, and the influence on the process of replicating results should be considered. Publications are often rejected due to a lack of rigour in the applied method and designs (Fonseca, 2013 ; Laher, 2016 ), calling for increased clarity and knowledge of method application. Replication is a critical part of any field of scientific research and requires the “complete articulation” of the study methods used (Drotar, 2010 , p. 804). The lack of thorough description could be explained by the requirements of certain journals to only report on certain aspects of a research process, especially with regard to the applied design (Laher, 20). However, naming aspects such as sampling and designs, is a requirement according to the APA's Journal Article Reporting Standards (JARS-Quant) (Appelbaum et al., 2018 ). With very little information on how a study was conducted, authors lose a valuable opportunity to enhance research validity, enrich the knowledge of others, and contribute to the growth of psychology and methodology as a whole. In the case of this research study, it also restricted our results to only reported samples and designs, which indicated a preference for certain designs, such as cross-sectional designs for quantitative studies.

Data collection and analysis were for the most part clearly stated. A key result was the versatile use of questionnaires. Researchers would apply a questionnaire in various ways, for example in questionnaire interviews, online surveys, and written questionnaires across most research methods. This may highlight a trend for future research.

With regard to the topics these methods were employed for, our research study found a new field named “psychological practice.” This result may show the growing consciousness of researchers as part of the research process (Denzin and Lincoln, 2003 ), psychological practice, and knowledge generation. The most popular of these topics was social psychology, which is generously covered in journals and by learning societies, as testaments of the institutional support and richness social psychology has in the field of psychology (Chryssochoou, 2015 ). The APA's perspective on 2018 trends in psychology also identifies an increased amount of psychology focus on how social determinants are influencing people's health (Deangelis, 2017 ).

This study was not without limitations and the following should be taken into account. Firstly, this study used a sample of five specific journals to address the aim of the research study, despite general journal aims (as stated on journal websites), this inclusion signified a bias towards the research methods published in these specific journals only and limited generalisability. A broader sample of journals over a different period of time, or a single journal over a longer period of time might provide different results. A second limitation is the use of Excel spreadsheets and an electronic system to log articles, which was a manual process and therefore left room for error (Bandara et al., 2015 ). To address this potential issue, co-coding was performed to reduce error. Lastly, this article categorised data based on the information presented in the article sample; there was no interpretation of what methodology could have been applied or whether the methods stated adhered to the criteria for the methods used. Thus, a large number of articles that did not clearly indicate a research method or design could influence the results of this review. However, this in itself was also a noteworthy result. Future research could review research methods of a broader sample of journals with an interpretive review tool that increases rigour. Additionally, the authors also encourage the future use of systematised review designs as a way to promote a concise procedure in applying this design.

Our research study presented the use of research methods for published articles in the field of psychology as well as recommendations for future research based on these results. Insight into the complex questions identified in literature, regarding what methods are used how these methods are being used and for what topics (why) was gained. This sample preferred quantitative methods, used convenience sampling and presented a lack of rigorous accounts for the remaining methodologies. All methodologies that were clearly indicated in the sample were tabulated to allow researchers insight into the general use of methods and not only the most frequently used methods. The lack of rigorous account of research methods in articles was represented in-depth for each step in the research process and can be of vital importance to address the current replication crisis within the field of psychology. Recommendations for future research aimed to motivate research into the practical implications of the results for psychology, for example, publication bias and the use of convenience samples.

Ethics Statement

This study was cleared by the North-West University Health Research Ethics Committee: NWU-00115-17-S1.

Author Contributions

All authors listed have made a substantial, direct and intellectual contribution to the work, and approved it for publication.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

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Overview of the Scientific Method

8 Finding a Research Topic

Learning objectives.

  • Learn some common sources of research ideas.
  • Define the research literature in psychology and give examples of sources that are part of the research literature and sources that are not.
  • Describe and use several methods for finding previous research on a particular research idea or question.

Good research must begin with a good research question. Yet coming up with good research questions is something that novice researchers often find difficult and stressful. One reason is that this is a creative process that can appear mysterious—even magical—with experienced researchers seeming to pull interesting research questions out of thin air. However, psychological research on creativity has shown that it is neither as mysterious nor as magical as it appears. It is largely the product of ordinary thinking strategies and persistence (Weisberg, 1993) [1] . This section covers some fairly simple strategies for finding general research ideas, turning those ideas into empirically testable research questions, and finally evaluating those questions in terms of how interesting they are and how feasible they would be to answer.

Finding Inspiration

Research questions often begin as more general research ideas—usually focusing on some behavior or psychological characteristic: talkativeness, learning, depression, bungee jumping, and so on. Before looking at how to turn such ideas into empirically testable research questions, it is worth looking at where such ideas come from in the first place. Three of the most common sources of inspiration are informal observations, practical problems, and previous research.

Informal observations include direct observations of our own and others’ behavior as well as secondhand observations from non-scientific sources such as newspapers, books, blogs, and so on. For example, you might notice that you always seem to be in the slowest moving line at the grocery store. Could it be that most people think the same thing? Or you might read in a local newspaper about people donating money and food to a local family whose house has burned down and begin to wonder about who makes such donations and why. Some of the most famous research in psychology has been inspired by informal observations. Stanley Milgram’s famous research on obedience to authority, for example, was inspired in part by journalistic reports of the trials of accused Nazi war criminals—many of whom claimed that they were only obeying orders. This led him to wonder about the extent to which ordinary people will commit immoral acts simply because they are ordered to do so by an authority figure (Milgram, 1963) [2] .

Practical problems can also inspire research ideas, leading directly to applied research in such domains as law, health, education, and sports. Does taking lecture notes by hand improve students’ exam performance? How effective is psychotherapy for depression compared to drug therapy? To what extent do cell phones impair people’s driving ability? How can we teach children to read more efficiently? What is the best mental preparation for running a marathon?

Probably the most common inspiration for new research ideas, however, is previous research. Recall that science is a kind of large-scale collaboration in which many different researchers read and evaluate each other’s work and conduct new studies to build on it. Of course, experienced researchers are familiar with previous research in their area of expertise and probably have a long list of ideas. This suggests that novice researchers can find inspiration by consulting with a more experienced researcher (e.g., students can consult a faculty member). But they can also find inspiration by picking up a copy of almost any professional journal and reading the titles and abstracts. In one typical issue of  Psychological Science , for example, you can find articles on the perception of shapes, anti-Semitism, police lineups, the meaning of death, second-language learning, people who seek negative emotional experiences, and many other topics. If you can narrow your interests down to a particular topic (e.g., memory) or domain (e.g., health care), you can also look through more specific journals, such as  Memory & Cognition  or  Health Psychology .

Reviewing the Research Literature

QR code that links to Research Topic video

Once again, one of the most common sources of inspiration is previous research. Therefore, it is important to review the literature early in the research process. The  research literature  in any field is all the published research in that field. Reviewing the research literature means finding, reading, and summarizing the published research relevant to your topic of interest. In addition to helping you discover new research questions, reviewing the literature early in the research process can help you in several other ways.

  • It can tell you if a research question has already been answered.
  • It can help you evaluate the interestingness of a research question.
  • It can give you ideas for how to conduct your own study.
  • It can tell you how your study fits into the research literature.

The research literature in psychology is enormous—including millions of scholarly articles and books dating to the beginning of the field—and it continues to grow. Although its boundaries are somewhat fuzzy, the research literature definitely does not include self-help and other pop psychology books, dictionary and encyclopedia entries, websites, and similar sources that are intended mainly for the general public. These are considered unreliable because they are not reviewed by other researchers and are often based on little more than common sense or personal experience. Wikipedia contains much valuable information, but because its authors are anonymous and may not have any formal training or expertise in that subject area, and its content continually changes it is unsuitable as a basis of sound scientific research. For our purposes, it helps to define the research literature as consisting almost entirely of two types of sources: articles in professional journals, and scholarly books in psychology and related fields.

Professional Journals

Professional journals  are periodicals that publish original research articles. There are thousands of professional journals that publish research in psychology and related fields. They are usually published monthly or quarterly in individual issues, each of which contains several articles. The issues are organized into volumes, which usually consist of all the issues for a calendar year. Some journals are published in hard copy only, others in both hard copy and electronic form, and still others in electronic form only.

Most articles in professional journals are one of two basic types: empirical research reports and review articles.  Empirical research reports  describe one or more new empirical studies conducted by the authors. They introduce a research question, explain why it is interesting, review previous research, describe their method and results, and draw their conclusions. Review articles  summarize previously published research on a topic and usually present new ways to organize or explain the results. When a review article is devoted primarily to presenting a new theory, it is often referred to as a theoretical article . When a review article provides a statistical summary of all of the previous results it is referred to as a  meta-analysis .

Figure 2.2 Small Sample of the Thousands of Professional Journals That Publish Research in Psychology and Related Fields

Most professional journals in psychology undergo a process of  double-blind peer review . Researchers who want to publish their work in the journal submit a manuscript to the editor—who is generally an established researcher too—who in turn sends it to two or three experts on the topic. Each reviewer reads the manuscript, writes a critical but constructive review, and sends the review back to the editor along with recommendations about whether the manuscript should be published or not. The editor then decides whether to accept the article for publication, ask the authors to make changes and resubmit it for further consideration, or reject it outright. In any case, the editor forwards the reviewers’ written comments to the researchers so that they can revise their manuscript accordingly. This entire process is double-blind, as the reviewers do not know the identity of the researcher(s) and vice versa. Double-blind peer review is helpful because it ensures that the work meets basic standards of the field before it can enter the research literature. However, in order to increase transparency and accountability, some newer open access journals (e.g., Frontiers in Psychology ) utilize an open peer review process wherein the identities of the reviewers (which remain concealed during the peer review process) are published alongside the journal article.

Scholarly Books

Scholarly books  are books written by researchers and practitioners mainly for use by other researchers and practitioners. A  monograph  is written by a single author or a small group of authors and usually, gives a coherent presentation of a topic much like an extended review article.  Edited volumes have an editor or a small group of editors who recruit many authors to write separate chapters on different aspects of the same topic. Although edited volumes can also give a coherent presentation of the topic, it is not unusual for each chapter to take a different perspective or even for the authors of different chapters to openly disagree with each other. In general, scholarly books undergo a peer review process similar to that used by professional journals.

Literature Search Strategies

Using psycinfo and other databases.

The primary method used to search the research literature involves using one or more electronic databases. These include Academic Search Premier, JSTOR, and ProQuest for all academic disciplines, ERIC for education, and PubMed for medicine and related fields. The most important for our purposes, however, is PsycINFO, which is produced by the American Psychological Association (APA). PsycINFO is so comprehensive—covering thousands of professional journals and scholarly books going back more than 100 years—that for most purposes its content is synonymous with the research literature in psychology. Like most such databases, PsycINFO is usually available through your university library.

PsycINFO consists of individual records for each article, book chapter, or book in the database. Each record includes basic publication information, an abstract or summary of the work (like the one presented at the start of this chapter), and a list of other works cited by that work. A computer interface allows entering one or more search terms and returns any records that contain those search terms. (These interfaces are provided by different vendors and therefore can look somewhat different depending on the library you use.) Each record also contains lists of keywords that describe the content of the work and also a list of index terms. The index terms are especially helpful because they are standardized. Research on differences between females and males, for example, is always indexed under “Human Sex Differences.” Research on note-taking is always indexed under the term “Learning Strategies.” If you do not know the appropriate index terms, PsycINFO includes a thesaurus that can help you find them.

Given that there are nearly four million records in PsycINFO, you may have to try a variety of search terms in different combinations and at different levels of specificity before you find what you are looking for. Imagine, for example, that you are interested in the question of whether males and females differ in terms of their ability to recall experiences from when they were very young. If you were to enter the search term “memory,” it would return far too many records to look through individually. This is where the thesaurus helps. Entering “memory” into the thesaurus provides several more specific index terms—one of which is “early memories.” While searching for “early memories” among the index terms still returns too many to look through individually—combining it with “human sex differences” as a second search term returns fewer articles, many of which are highly relevant to the topic.

Depending on the vendor that provides the interface to PsycINFO, you may be able to save, print, or e-mail the relevant PsycINFO records. The records might even contain links to full-text copies of the works themselves. (PsycARTICLES is a database that provides full-text access to articles in all journals published by the APA.) If not, and you want a copy of the work, you will have to find out if your library carries the journal or has the book and the hard copy on the library shelves. Be sure to ask a librarian if you need help.

Using Other Search Techniques

QR code that links to PsycINFO video

In addition to entering search terms into PsycINFO and other databases, there are several other techniques you can use to search the research literature. First, if you have one good article or book chapter on your topic—a recent review article is best—you can look through the reference list of that article for other relevant articles, books, and book chapters. In fact, you should do this with any relevant article or book chapter you find. You can also start with a classic article or book chapter on your topic, find its record in PsycINFO (by entering the author’s name or article’s title as a search term), and link from there to a list of other works in PsycINFO that cite that classic article. This works because other researchers working on your topic are likely to be aware of the classic article and cite it in their own work. You can also do a general Internet search using search terms related to your topic or the name of a researcher who conducts research on your topic. This might lead you directly to works that are part of the research literature (e.g., articles in open-access journals or posted on researchers’ own websites). The search engine Google Scholar is especially useful for this purpose. A general Internet search might also lead you to websites that are not part of the research literature but might provide references to works that are. Finally, you can talk to people (e.g., your instructor or other faculty members in psychology) who know something about your topic and can suggest relevant articles and book chapters.

What to Search For

QR code that links to Google Scholar video

When you do a literature review, you need to be selective. Not every article, book chapter, and book that relates to your research idea or question will be worth obtaining, reading, and integrating into your review. Instead, you want to focus on sources that help you do four basic things: (a) refine your research question, (b) identify appropriate research methods, (c) place your research in the context of previous research, and (d) write an effective research report. Several basic principles can help you find the most useful sources.

First, it is best to focus on recent research, keeping in mind that what counts as recent depends on the topic. For newer topics that are actively being studied, “recent” might mean published in the past year or two. For older topics that are receiving less attention right now, “recent” might mean within the past 10 years. You will get a feel for what counts as recent for your topic when you start your literature search. A good general rule, however, is to start with sources published in the past five years. The main exception to this rule would be classic articles that turn up in the reference list of nearly every other source. If other researchers think that this work is important, even though it is old, then, by all means, you should include it in your review.

Second, you should look for review articles on your topic because they will provide a useful overview of it—often discussing important definitions, results, theories, trends, and controversies—giving you a good sense of where your own research fits into the literature. You should also look for empirical research reports addressing your question or similar questions, which can give you ideas about how to measure your variables and collect your data. As a general rule, it is good to use methods that others have already used successfully unless you have good reasons not to. Finally, you should look for sources that provide information that can help you argue for the interestingness of your research question. For a study on the effects of cell phone use on driving ability, for example, you might look for information about how widespread cell phone use is, how frequent and costly motor vehicle crashes are, and so on.

How many sources are enough for your literature review? This is a difficult question because it depends on how extensively your topic has been studied and also on your own goals. One study found that across a variety of professional journals in psychology, the average number of sources cited per article was about 50 (Adair & Vohra, 2003) [3] . This gives a rough idea of what professional researchers consider to be adequate. As a student, you might be assigned a much lower minimum number of references to include, but the principles for selecting the most useful ones remain the same.

Video Attributions

  • “ How to Develop a Good Research Topic ” by  KStateLibraries .  CC BY (Attribution)
  • “ Sample PsycINFO Search on EBSCOhost ” by  APA Publishing Training . Standard YouTube Licence.
  • “ Using Google Scholar (CLIP) ” by  clipinfolit .  CC BY (Attribution)
  • Weisberg, R. W. (1993). Creativity: Beyond the myth of genius . New York, NY: Freeman. ↵
  • Milgram, S. (1963). Behavioral study of obedience. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 67 , 371–378. ↵
  • Adair, J. G., & Vohra, N. (2003). The explosion of knowledge, references, and citations: Psychology’s unique response to a crisis. American Psychologist, 58 , 15–23. ↵

All the published research in that field.

Are periodicals that publish original research articles.

Research reports that describe one or more new empirical studies conducted by the authors.

Articles that summarize previously published research on a topic and usually present new ways to organize or explain the results.

A review article that is devoted primarily to presenting a new theory.

A review article that provides a statistical summary of all of the previous results.

A process in which the reviewers of a research article do not know the identity of the researcher(s) and vice versa.

Books written by researchers and practitioners mainly for use by other researchers and practitioners.

A coherent written presentation of a topic much like an extended review article written by a single author or a small group of authors.

Books that are collections of chapters written by different authors on different aspects of the same topic, and overseen by one or more editors.

A comprehensive electronic database covering thousands of professional journals and scholarly books going back more than 100 years—that for most purposes its content is synonymous with the research literature in psychology.

Research Methods in Psychology Copyright © 2019 by Rajiv S. Jhangiani, I-Chant A. Chiang, Carrie Cuttler, & Dana C. Leighton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Mapping the field of psychology: Trends in research topics 1995–2015

  • Open access
  • Published: 23 June 2021
  • Volume 126 , pages 9699–9731, ( 2021 )

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  • Oliver Wieczorek   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-6504-0965 1 , 2 ,
  • Saïd Unger   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0003-1266-2055 3 ,
  • Jan Riebling 4 ,
  • Lukas Erhard   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-4977-2947 4 ,
  • Christian Koß 3 &
  • Raphael Heiberger 3  

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We map the topic structure of psychology utilizing a sample of over 500,000 abstracts of research articles and conference proceedings spanning two decades (1995–2015). To do so, we apply structural topic models to examine three research questions: (i) What are the discipline’s most prevalent research topics? (ii) How did the scientific discourse in psychology change over the last decades, especially since the advent of neurosciences? (iii) And was this change carried by high impact (HI) or less prestigious journals? Our results reveal that topics related to natural sciences are trending, while their ’counterparts’ leaning to humanities are declining in popularity. Those trends are even more pronounced in the leading outlets of the field. Furthermore, our findings indicate a continued interest in methodological topics accompanied by the ascent of neurosciences and related methods and technologies (e.g. fMRI’s). At the same time, other established approaches (e.g. psychoanalysis) become less popular and indicate a relative decline of topics related to the social sciences and the humanities.

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Avoid common mistakes on your manuscript.


Historically, psychology has been a discipline characterized by a high degree of internal differentiation between basic, applied, and clinical branches (Brennan and Houde 2017 ) which still exists today (Gaj 2016 ). This internal differentiation is driven by exchanges between the different branches of psychology with the natural sciences (e.g. evolutionary biology), or social sciences such as economics, political science, and sociology (Marshall 2009 ; Morf 2018 ; Schwartz et al. 2016 ). More recently, psychology witnessed the advent of neurosciences and the advance of technological devices such as the fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) (Marshall 2009 ; Yeung et al. 2017b ). Consequently, the fMRI has led to new ways how to study the linkage between the mind and the brain, and is now widely applied in clinical branches of psychology (Berman et al. 2006 ; Fairburn and Patel 2017 ; Schwartz et al. 2016 ; Brennan and Houde 2017 ; Toomela 2019 ).

Despite the well-documented changes, it is not well understood how topics become established in the psychological discourse and whether this change is carried by high impact journals or less prestigious journals. While some studies with a focus on different disciplines stress the importance of the former (Kwiek 2020 ; Yeung et al. 2017a ), others emphasize the role of mainstream and low-impact journals (Münch 2014 ; Yeung 2018 ), and interdisciplinarity for changes in the scientific discourse (Leahey and Moody 2014 ). Our goal is to contribute to the literature by providing an overview of the diverse landscape of psychology and mapping changes in its discourse. In order to do so, we ask:

What are the discipline’s most prevalent research topics?

How did the scientific discourse in psychology change over the last decades, especially since the advent of neurosciences?

And was this change carried by high impact (HI) or less prestigious journals?

These questions cannot be answered by individual accounts, since scientists’ views tend to be shaped by their own disciplinary experience and academic environment. The psychological discourse is simply too broad to comprehend for individual scholars, “that an entire team of researchers working for several years could only map a fraction of all the texts, transcripts, or archives that define them” (Bail 2014 , 469). Fortunately, computational linguistics provides the means to reconstruct the history of a field (Anderson et al. 2012 ; Munoz-Najar Galvez et al. 2020 ), explain scientists’ choice of research strategy (Foster et al. 2015 ), and model scientific discovery (Shi et al. 2015 ). A central feature of computational linguistics is the development of impersonal and automatic procedures that offer a more objective and top-down view compared with earlier attempts to map academic fields by insiders (Buurma 2015 , 3).

We apply structural topic models (STMs) (Roberts et al. 2014 ) to a dataset consisting of 528, 488 abstracts of published journal articles and conference proceedings to provide answers for the three questions raised and to approximate psychology as a field. STMs allow us to reduce the high-dimensional space of research themes in a reproducible way and, hence, to extract the meaning inherent in a large corpus of psychological research.

In order to map the topic structure of psychology and its flux over time, our paper is structured as follows: We discuss the rich literature on how psychology is organized as a scientific discipline in sect.  2 . We proceed with the introduction of our dataset, cleaning procedures of the textual data, and our methodological approach in sect.  3 . The results on the changing landscape of research topics are presented in sect.  4 . We close with discussing the limitations and future direction of research in sect.  5 .

Literature review

Current debates regarding the state of psychology revolve mostly around questions of its multidisciplinarity and potential common ground in psychology and its subfields (Brennan and Houde 2017 ; Gentner 2010 ; Henriques 2017 ; Jackson 2017 ; Joseph 2017 ; Kaplan 2015 ; Marshall 2009 ; Melchert 2016 ; Miller 2010 ; Tryon 2017 ; Toomela 2019 ; Zagaria et al. 2020 ). Specifically, Melchert ( 2016 ) criticizes that the internal differentiation of psychology hinders the accumulation of reliable knowledge on the human psyche. Instead, he envisions psychology as a “unified clinical science” under the lead of cognitive sciences, neurosciences, and evolutionary biology. At the same time, other psychologists emphasize that it is precisely this diversity that contributes to advances in knowledge about the many facets of the human psyche (Jackson 2017 ; Joseph 2017 ; Miller 2010 ).

Despite this debate, few studies so far attempted to map the scientific discourse of psychology comprehensively. For example, Krampen et al. ( 2011 ) tried to forecast research trends in psychology using data provided by PsycINFO and PSYNDEX from 1977 to 2008. They assigned journal abstract data to the APA subject classification scheme and forecasted a relative decline in developmental psychology, methodology and statistics, organizational psychology with a focus on management, clinical psychology with a focus on psychotherapy, family psychology, and environmental psychology. Using the same data source, Krampen ( 2016 ) reports a decline of publications dealing with the history of psychology and thus self-reflexive studies on the discipline of psychology, whereas Krampen and Trierweiler ( 2016 ) uncovered increasing epistemic ties between psychology and the natural sciences that evolved from the 1920s onward. Flis and van Eck ( 2018 ) conducted an analysis of term co-occurence in titles and abstracts of 673,393 psychology articles published between 1950 and 1999 listed in PsycINFO. Their findings show a schism between experimental and physical psychology on the one hand, and applied psychology consisting of educational psychology, social psychology, as well as research on personality and clinical psychology on the other hand. Psychologists in the former domain apply experiments to investigate a limited number of treatment effects. In contrast, psychologists conducting research in the ‘applied’ branches ideal-typically rely on methods like correlation analysis or structural equation modeling. In this sense, the findings of Flis and van Eck ( 2018 ) empirically validate the observation of Cronbach ( 1957 ), who described an entrenchment between “experimentalists” and psychologists aligned to “correlational methods”.

Using Latent Dirichlet Allocation, Bittermann and Fischer ( 2018 ) studied the emergence of “hot topics” in psychology in German-speaking countries from 1980 to 2016. Based on 314, 573 English and German article abstracts listed in PSYNDEX and relying on the APA Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms , they investigated associations between topics uncovered and the terms provided by the thesaurus. Their findings indicate a redefinition of theoretical concepts over time in addition to a different application of these concepts across domains of psychology.

Benjafield ( 2019 ) investigated the most salient keywords in anglophone psychology from 1887 to 2014. His findings suggest that keywords associated with the emergence of psychological paradigms are widely used over extended periods of time. These keywords include “learning”, “perception”, “memory”, “motor”, “personality”, “performance”, “program” and “schizophrenia” among others. Based on the analysis of shared scientific vocabulary between different disciplines, the findings of Benjafield ( 2020 ) provide empirical evidence for a shift in psychology towards the natural sciences, concluding that:

[...] much of what we now call psychology may end up being part of biology [...]. The remainder may coalesce around the study of aspects of the person that are not easily reducible to biology and consequently may develop stronger affiliations with the humanities. (Benjafield 2020 , 15)

Furthermore, studies have demonstrated increasing alignments with the natural sciences for various subfields of psychology. For example, an examination of topics in sport and exercise psychology journals between 2008 and 2011 suggests a relative dominance of research on motivation with links to cognitive science and intersections between sport and health psychology (Lindahl et al. 2015 ). Furthermore, they identified isolated research areas such as “behavioral change, physical activity, and health”, “performance, anxiety, and chocking”, and “talent development and expertise”. Preckel and Krampen ( 2016 ) analyzed PSYNDEX data of research on highly gifted and mentally impaired persons issued between 1980 and 2014. They note a dramatic increase in research on gifted students since the 2000s and a growing number of empirically oriented papers. Kaplan ( 2015 ) identifies two distinct research cultures in educational psychology: Post-positivists who apply quantitative methods, and interpretative researchers using mainly qualitative methodology. In his view, the former is aligned to the natural sciences and increasingly endorsed as the sole legitimate paradigm in educational psychology due to the possibility to replicate experimental findings. At the same time, interpretative research is increasingly marginalized because its findings are harder to reproduce and do not presuppose universal laws of the psyche.

Moreover, studies show an increasing influence of neurosciences on the psychological discourse. Yeung et al. ( 2017b ) reveal neuroscience research to be increasingly important in the domains of behavioral sciences, geriatrics and gerontology and – especially – psychology. Methodologically, Yeung et al. ( 2017a ) note that statistical, computational, and technical approaches aligned with neurosciences are increasingly common in HI-journals. These methods are related to topics such as physiology, motor function, anatomy, aging, social neuroscience, and language and learning. Interestingly, a significant share of highly influential neurosciences papers (measured in citation rates) were not published in high impact journals and indicate the importance of other journals for the dissemination of novel insights (Yeung and Ho 2018 ).

Taken together, the findings provided by previous research indicate firstly an occurring shift towards the natural sciences primarily driven by neurosciences and cognitive sciences. Second, experimental methods and the use of fMRIs and other advanced imaging devices increasingly exert influence on the psychological discourse. Finally, it remains unclear whether the changes in the psychological discourse towards the natural sciences are driven by publications in HI or mainstream journals.

Data and methods

We utilize the Web of Science database to describe the research discourses in psychology, to map the landscape of psychological topics discussed in HI journals and mainstream journals as well as conference proceedings, and the changes over time. We queried the Web of Science database in September 2018 and downloaded all abstracts associated with at least one of the following Web of Science categories: “Psychology”, “Psychology, Psychoanalysis”, “Psychology, Multidisciplinary”, “Psychology, Experimental”, “Psychology, Clinical”, “Psychology, Educational”, “Psychology, Mathematical”, “Psychology, Social”, “Psychology, Developmental”, “Psychology, Biological”, “Psychology, Applied”. We then excluded all non-English abstracts. In total, our corpus included 528, 488 abstracts, stemming from articles published in 642 psychology outlets and 709 conference proceedings (1, 351 items in total).

As is common in quantitative text analysis, the acquired data needed to be prepared and cleaned. In a first step, we removed all stopwords like “in”, “and”, “or”, “the”. Following this, we tokenized and lemmatized the words Footnote 1 . Lemmatization is a common step in NLP to reduce different forms of a word (e.g., singular and plural) to a common base form. As a last preprocessing step, we concatenated bigrams appearing more than 50 times to detect phrases like “factor_analysis” or “statistical_significant” in our abstract data (Blaheta and Johnson 2001 ).

Working with large amounts of texts is a long-standing issue in the field of information retrieval (e.g. Billhardt et al. 2002 ). The main idea is to summarize a corpus of documents by reducing their dimensions, but to keep, at the same time, most of its relevant information. One popular branch of information retrieval is topic modeling (Jordan and Mitchell 2015 ), where a set of documents is assigned to meaningful themes (i.e. “topics”). Topics are directly derived from the documents by probabilistic algorithms and consist of words that co-occur across documents.

In so-called generative models, each topic is seen as a probability distribution across all words of a given language, describing the likelihood for a word to be chosen to be part of a certain topic (Blei et al. 2003 ; Griffiths and Steyvers 2004 ). Since this likelihood is independent of the position of the word in a text it is sometimes referred to as a “bag-of-words” representation of documents. Although this assumption is clearly not realistic (e.g. grammar is ignored), it has been proven to be very reliable in practical applications (DiMaggio et al. 2013 ; McFarland et al. 2013 ).

In this paper, we use a recently developed variety of probabilistic topic models called Structural Topic Models (STMs) by Roberts et al. ( 2014 ). Its key feature is to enable researchers to utilize document metadata (e.g. year) to improve the estimation of topics. Including the publication date has proven to be especially useful for longer time periods and changing discourses (Farrell 2016 ). It has been shown that the incorporation of additional covariates as “a way of ‘structuring’ the prior distributions in the topic model” improves the topic quality substantially (Roberts et al. 2016 , 1067). We follow this example and use the year of each document as a covariate in our models.

These improvements notwithstanding, the STM requires a researcher to make a decision on the number of topics ( k ) although the number of relevant themes is not known a priori. Insufficient numbers render models coarse, an excessive number could result in a model that is too complex. This is a widely recognized issue in topic modeling (e.g. Chang et al. 2009 ). To validate the number of topics, we first utilize two commonly used metrics, semantic coherence and exclusivity (Mimno et al. 2011 ; Roberts et al. 2014 ). Semantic coherence addresses whether a topic is internally consistent by calculating the frequency with which high probability topic words tend to co-occur in documents. However, semantic coherence alone can be misleading since high values can simply be obtained by very common words of a topic that occur together in most documents. To account for the desired statistical discrimination between topics we consider exclusivity. It provides us with the extent to which the words of a topic are distinct to it. Considering the optimum trade-off between exclusivity and coherence, we seek for a ‘plateau’, i.e., steps where coherence is not decreasing and, at the same time, exclusivity is not improving. We find such a range for \(k=(90,100)\) (cf. Fig. 5 in Appendix 1 ) Footnote 2 .

To further analyze and label each topic, we applied a three-step qualitative interpretative design. In a first step, three scholars labeled each topic based on the ten most frequent and most specific tokens as well as the most typical abstracts. The list of these tokens was established using the FREX measure, which combines the weighted frequency with which a word occurs in the documents associated with a topic with the exclusivity of it occurring only in these documents (Bischof and Airoldi 2012 ). In a second step, two other researchers reviewed the labels given in the first step and calculated the agreement of the topic labels. The values of this agreement-measure are 0 if all topics are labeled differently, and 2 or 3 respectively if two or three labels were sufficiently similar. We did so to penalize completely different interpretations of the respective topics.

The topics were labeled sufficiently similar by 2.25 scholars on average. In sum, eleven of our 100 topics were inconsistently labeled and two were consistently identified as junk topics. The first junk topic includes notes on publishing procedures, psychological awards and information on professional associations (T30). The second consists of non-English tokens present in multilingual abstracts (T100). In the third step, the latter two researchers either assigned the topic labels according to the most agreed label or suggested a new label if all of the first three scholars disagreed on the label in the first step.

The following section addresses the three initially raised research questions. To do so, we first present the characteristics of the most prevalent, rising, and declining topics and group them thematically by clustering our findings into distinct topic groups. In sum, nine topic groups emerged from our data (see Table 1 ). We further provide the prevalence for each topic and all nine clusters. In total, we analyze 21 topics which comprise \(32.3\%\) of all tokens according to their theta values. We then proceed with analyzing differences in publication patterns in HI journals on the one hand, and mainstream journals and proceedings on the other hand. Footnote 3

figure 1

Prevalence of the ten most prevalent topics across all years and documents. Each topic is represented by its most aligned words

Characteristics of the most prevalent topics

Beginning with the analysis of the ten most prevalent topics over the whole period between 1995 and 2015, we see that the most prevalent topic (psychoanalysis, topic 8) shows an average document-topic probability of \(3.38\%\) (see Fig. 1 for a depiction of the expected proportions of the ten most prevalent topics) Footnote 4 . The expected document-topic probability refers to “the mean proportion of words across the documents that are assigned to this topic” (Roberts et al. 2014 , online appendix 31).

Additionally, Table 2 provides an overview on the prevalence and FREX words of the ten most prevalent topics. This percentage seems small at first, but considering the number of 100 topics chosen for our STM, the value is considerably higher than the expected value of \(1\%\) per topic Footnote 5 .

Three areas of research stand out within the ten most prevalent topics: methodology, cognition and perception, and studies on therapy and clinical intervention.

Topics focusing on methodology included research on quantitative methods with emphasis on item response theory (T38) and psychometrics (T47). These were the two most prevalent topics, revealing an ongoing debate on the adequacy of methods used in psychology. Against this backdrop, a variety of different research designs are addressed by psychology scholars, representing the field’s methodological diversity: Regression models, e.g. multilevel-, fixed-, random- and mixed effects models, monte-carlo simulations, and model misspecifications as sources of errors (T38), as well as reliability and validity of psychometric scales (T47). Both indicate a prevalence of quantitative methods in the psychological discourse.

Studies focusing on cognition and perception are associated with cognitive theories (T29), visual perception (T1), and spatial recognition (T73). Cognitive theories focus mainly on the development of mental models, reasoning, and the theory of mind. They aim to explain cognitive misconceptions of visual stimuli and for understanding visual information processing (T1). Similar patterns emerge for research on spatial recognition (T73). Again, the tokens loading high on the topic point to experimental designs to study the ability to process information or focus on two (or more) stimuli simultaneously.

Therapy and clinical trials include two topics and highlight a drive towards applications in psychology. Topics associated with this line of research include addiction interventions (T63), and psychoanalysis (T8). Whereas the former is aligned with clinical trials and experiments as methodological underpinnings, the latter is characterized by the relation between clients and psychotherapists in addition to the application of qualitative research methods. This methodological divide shows an alignment with the natural sciences for topics 63 and 88 (clinical trials of anti depressants), and alignment with social scientific approaches for therapeutic consultation for topic 8.

Three further topics are among the ten most prevalent which are representatives of distinct groups of topics discussed in more detail in the following sections. These are response reinforcement (T49), group theory (T80), and working memory (T85). The first topic focuses on animal experimentation, reinforced learning and conditioning and belongs to a topic cluster identified as behaviorism and animal experiments . The topic group theory covers concepts related to status formation, stereotypes, discrimination, and social identity. Hereby, a topic cluster is established that revolves around group dynamics . The last topic, working memory , belongs to a topic cluster centered on learning and memorization . Research belonging to this topic relies on experiments to measure performance on memorization tasks and information processing while being distracted or confronted with two or more types of information simultaneously. These topics specifically focus more strongly on experiments and a have a strong connection towards natural sciences.

Overall, applied, theoretical, and methodological topics are represented in similar proportions in the ten most prevalent topics during the study period.

figure 2

The 10 most trending (upper echelon) and, respectively, declining topics (lower echelon)

Changes in psychological discourse

In order to analyze the changes in psychological discourse, we apply linear regression to illustrate the general (linear) trend of a subject over time and define the rise and decline of topics by the slope of their prevalence across time Footnote 6 . It is important to mention that this neither accounts for short-term changes at the beginning or end of the time frames, nor does it consider non-linear trends in the topics prevalence. While this is a clear limitation of our research design, it is also necessary to highlight the general trends in topic prevalence. Using a non-linear trend would be preferable, yet it would require a formal theory of semantic drifting in order to predict the amount of uptake or downturn one could expect on average. At the point of writing it is not clear if something like this would even be possible.

In order to make the changes in the psychological discourse more comparable, only the ten most declining as well as the ten topics with the steepest rise are considered to illustrate the changes in the discourse of psychology. The restriction to only focus on the Top 10 only is somewhat arbitrary, since we could just as well selected only nine or even eleven. However, since any other choice on the matter would be just as arbitrary and because we want to depict the overall changes, we chose a subset which we find to be illustrative.

Trending topics

There are topics discussed in psychology outlets that are gaining ground over time or witness relative decline in prominence (see Fig. 2 ). In this regard, Table 3 provides information on topic prevalence, FREX words and slopes of the ten trending topics.

Turning to trending topics, we see a mixture of topics associated with cognitive science, addictive and mental disorders, life satisfaction and motivation on the rise. Furthermore, there is some overlap between the highest trending and the most prevalent topics, namely addiction interventions (T63) and spatial recognition (T73). We also witness the ascent of brain imaging techniques (T54) within psychology outlets from 1995 ( \(\sim 0.5\%\) ) to 2015 ( \(\sim 1.6\%\) share on all publications). In fact, T54 shows the steepest slope of all trending topics and signals the rise of neuroscience topics in psychology. The topic brain imaging techniques is characterized by biological terms related to different areas of the brain, and by tokens related to brain imaging techniques such as the fMRI. As it does not fit into the previously introduced and discussed topic clusters, neurosciences emerge as a separate topic cluster from our data.

Looking on the other trending topics, we see a debate on regression models (T21), life satisfaction (T69) in general, the impact of chronic illnesses and quality of life (T76), research on obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and autism (T51), smoking behavior (T52), motivation (T67) and facial recognition (T3) gaining momentum. With this in mind, we are able to expand our topic clusters by either adding topics to already established clusters or by introducing new groups of topics.

Beginning with the former, we are able to add regression models (T21) to the methodology topic cluster. The tokens associated with this topic suggest that associated studies deal with predictive power of regression models, regression techniques in general, mediator effects and structural equation modeling. Albeit not as prevalent as our more general topics on quantitative methods and psychometrics , the topic of regression models indicate an ongoing interest in the refinement of classical statistical methods.

Facial recognition (T3) belongs to the cognition and perception topic cluster. It is associated with studies using experimental designs, and focus on ethnic discrimination based on skin color and facial expression of minorities. In contrast to the other, more prevalent topics belonging to the same topic cluster, facial recognition is more applied and aligned to social issues.

Turning to the clinical studies and clinical interventions topic cluster, we are able to append topic 51 dealing with OCD and autism . Topic 51 deals with conditions correlating to OCD and related disorders such as learning disabilities and accompanying character traits (e.g. hyperactivity or repetitive behavior patterns). It addresses a specialized and thematically limited subfield of psychology and by doing so distinguishes itself from the more prevalent and more general topics in the clinical studies and clinical interventions-cluster.

Moreover, we are able to add two additional topic clusters based on the remaining four topics. The first is labeled quality of life and includes life satisfaction (T69) and chronic illness and quality of life (T76). The former topic (T69) deals with the impact of positive thinking and positive events on short-term and long-term life satisfaction. Additionally, it covers subjective definitions of a “good life” and explores the relationship between character traits and life satisfaction. The latter topic (T76) sheds light on the relation between physical and mental health with a particular focus on chronic diseases. In contrast to the former, more biological terms are related to chronic illnesses and quality of life compared to life satisfaction , unveiling the mind-body dualism still present in psychology (Brennan and Houde 2017 ).

The second new topic cluster was labeled as addiction and self-regulative behavior and includes motivation (T67) and smoking (T52). Motivation deals with issues of procrastination, time usage and leisure time, and the investigation of different types of motivation (e.g. intrinsic or extrinsic motivation). Beyond that, it is discussed what types of self-regulative behaviors are negatively associated with procrastination. Smoking focuses on the reasons for adolescents to start and ways to quit smoking. This topic also deals with self-regulative behavior and its association with smoking patterns, relapse, and mental health problems associated with smoking patterns.

Overall, we see specialized, applied and thematically driven topics gaining ground in psychology. Methodologically, these topics are aligned with experimental designs and classical statistical methods such as regression techniques.

Declining topics

Now that we witnessed neurosciences, applied as well as rather specialized topics gaining prevalence as against other topics in psychology, which topics are in decline and what are their characteristics compared to trending topics?

At first glance, we observe a more or less continuous decline of six prevalent topics, namely visual perception (T1), quantitative methods with focus on item response theory (T38), psychometrics (T47), and response reinforcement / behavioral experiments (T49), psychoanalysis (T8), and cognition theory (T29). Of these topics, psychoanalysis witnessed the steepest decline. This however does not imply a fall from grace as seen in the still sizable prevalence of the psychoanalysis topic (T8). Besides the topics mentioned above, we witness a relative decline of memory loss disorders (T7), quantitative methods (validity) (T75), animal experiments (diet) (T41) and animal testing (T41). Table 4 gives an overview on the ten declining topics, their prevalence, FREX terms, and slopes.

Similar to the trending topics, we are able to assign additional topics to the thematic clusters. First of all, we can assign memory loss disorders (T7) to the topic cluster learning and memorization . In contrast to topic working memory (T85), it deals with cognitive impairment following Alzheimer’s disease, different forms of dementia and Parkinson’s disease. It further links memory loss disorders with clinical studies or biological descriptions of their effects on the brain, memorization and motor abilities.

Secondly, quantitative methods (validity) (T75) seems to fall straight into the already established methodology cluster. This topic deals with psychometric issues related to experiments and questionnaires, e.g. recall or information retrieval in item scales. It complements psychometrics insofar, as it focuses on the participants’ abilities to answer items correctly and to recall information. Furthermore, the topic quantitative methods (validity) is characterized by the absence of tokens related to prediction and model specifications. Therefore, the topic cluster reveals that the methodological discourse in psychology seems to focus increasingly on objective measurements and model specifications.

At last, we can assign animal experiment (diet) (T41) and animal testing (T96) to the behaviorism and animal experimentation topic cluster. Animal experiments on diet are characterized by tokens stemming from biology. The experiments described focus on the effects of diets and nutrition intake (or lack thereof) on the animals’ bodies. Furthermore, behavioral changes related to modifications of food intake are discussed. At last, animal testing involves the study on the effects of drugs and medication on the subjects’ bodies. Beside the physical effects, the impact of drugs and medication on task performance, regular behavior, and memorization were tested.

Insofar, both topics differ substantially from response reinforcement . They focus on physical reactions and the impact of administered substances instead of programming and learning of behavior. Also, both topics are more concerned with the description of the effects administered drugs and medication or forced dietary changes have on the animals’ bodies. This clearly sets them apart from response reinforcement with their focus on the explanation of learning behavior. We therefore see a divide among topics concerned with description and explanation with the former in decline.

The division of topics in high impact journals and mainstream journals

figure 3

Differentiating most trending topics in psychology by HI and mainstream journals and conference proceedings

figure 4

Differentiating most declining topics in psychology by HI and mainstream journals and conference proceedings

Not all contributions to the knowledge base in psychology are published in equally visible journals. Prior studies in the field of higher education research suggest differences in the spread of disciplinary knowledge depending on journal prestige (Kwiek 2020 ; Yeung et al. 2017a ). It is therefore reasonable to assume that topics with the ability to shape an entire academic discipline are mainly discussed in HI journals. However, as Münch ( 2014 ) and Yeung ( 2018 ) suggest, new and innovative topics may be discussed in rather marginalized outlets and have the ability to subvert the disciplinary discourse.

With this in mind, we take a closer look at trending and declining topics and their representation in HI and mainstream journals. We define the ten journals with the highest journal impact factor related to psychology according to the Web of Science database as HI journals. In this regard, Fig. 3 decomposes the changes in prevalence over time for the ten trending topics and their appearance in high impact journals (orange line) versus mainstream journals (blue line). The same is shown in Fig. 4 for declining topics.

Regarding trending and declining topics, we see two patterns emerge. Firstly, there are topics, whose growth is primarily driven by growing shares in publications in HI journals. The same applies for declining topics. Secondly, we find topics, where the gain or loss in prevalence is driven in equal parts by HI and mainstream journals. Beginning with trending topics, we see brain imaging (T54) and addiction interventions (T63) to belong to the first category. These findings signal not only growing prevalence, but also importance and ascribed quality within the psychological discourse.

On the other hand, psychoanalysis (T8) witnesses a decline in prevalence, mainly driven by a loss in prevalence in HI journals at the end of our observation period. This finding indicates that psychoanalysis with its focus on the interaction between therapist and client does not match the current trend in psychological research with its growing emphasis on objectivity and approaches aligned to the natural sciences.

Discussion and conclusion

Our paper explores the scholarly discourse held in psychology outlets and provides a descriptive overview of the topics that inform psychological research and its changing discourse over the last two decades. The most remarkable result is that psychology appears to head towards an application oriented, clinical discipline with a growing focus on brain imaging techniques (e.g., fMRI) and approaches closely aligned to neurosciences and cognitive sciences. This development is reflected in the rising prevalence of clinical trials, cognitive sciences, neurosciences, cognitive psychology and studies addressing quality of life issues. On the one hand, this concurs with Melchert’s ( 2016 ) vision of psychology as a unified clinical science under the lead of neurosciences, cognitive sciences, and evolutionary biology. On the other hand, our analysis also shows that the multiparadigmatic roots of psychology described by Brennan and Houde ( 2017 ) and criticized by Gentner ( 2010 ) or Melchert ( 2016 ) are still present today. This resonates with Jackson ( 2017 ), Henriques ( 2017 ), and Tryon ( 2017 ), who advocate for diversity in psychology in order to study phenomena as comprehensively as possible.

Our findings reveal an internal hierarchy of different domains which align with natural sciences as more popular and social sciences / humanities as less popular factions. This becomes particularly visible in the growth of neurosciences in the psychological discourse, which was published above average in HI journals. As indicated by Yeung et al. ( 2017a ), neuroscience research fell on fertile ground in psychology and was able to connect to already existing research in the domain of cognition sciences and cognitive psychology. This corroborates the findings of Gentner ( 2010 ) and Schwartz et al. ( 2016 ) that the neurosciences substantially contribute to the mind-body duality debate in psychology.

Furthermore, our paper provides evidence for the decreasing alignment between psychology and the humanities on the one hand, and an increase in relevance of the natural sciences (Krampen 2016 ; Krampen and Trierweiler 2016 ). This is especially true for the neurosciences and cognitive sciences as examined by Yeung ( 2018 ) and Yeung and Ho ( 2018 ). This substantiates previous findings of Benjafield ( 2020 ), who noted that psychology might end up either as part of biology or a divided discipline, whereby this division occurs in both basic research and clinical applications.

However, our findings do not support the forecast of Krampen et al. ( 2011 ). Albeit we found a decrease in the coverage of psychoanalysis and some areas of quantitative methods, we found growing prevalence of organizational psychology and coverage of regression techniques and methodology aligned to the neurosciences. Changes in the foundations of psychology seem to be carried by HI- and mainstream journals, albeit the topic proportions indicate no dominance of one particular branch of psychology.

Our study is, of course, prone to a number of limitations. Firstly, we rely on the Web of Science database and the pre-defined category of psychology. This is mostly due to the wider accessibility of the data. An alternative approach would have been to rely on the PsycINFO database. PsycINFO covers 2, 307 journals with a total of 2, 434, 849 publications issued between 1995 and 2015 in contrast to our 528, 488 abstracts, of which 487.816 are available in both databases Footnote 7 . Our sample therefore covered \(20.03\%\) of the abstracts available on PsycINFO between 1995 and 2015. Secondly, these numbers indicate that systematic errors may occur due to our use of the Web of Science database. For example, the inclusion of abstracts issued in journal articles and conference proceedings could lead to over- or underestimation of topics as well as their actual change over time. Thirdly, given the interdisciplinary nature of neuroscience and its strong connection to biology and life sciences, a significant amount of the associated research would not be included in our dataset. Future studies could address these three problems by using the PsycINFO database. Since it is curated by the APA, it is the most comprehensive and accurate database that may be used to conduct scientometric studies on psychology.

Despite these limitations, our study provides insights into how topics change over time depending on their coverage in HI and mainstream journals. In this vein, future studies could investigate how neurosciences and applied clinical branches of psychology spread into other branches of psychology. Taking a closer look at interdisciplinary areas between psychology and other disciplines could therefore shed light on the question whether dominated or marginalized methods and paradigms are transferred to other disciplines, such as the social sciences. Finally, we encourage scholars to investigate the overlap between PsycINFO, Web of Science and other databases as an avenue for future research. A replication study could thus, for example, map nuances in topic development not captured in the dataset obtained in Web of Science. Such a comparison can contribute insights into how individual subject areas (such as psychology) are delimited in the respective databases and what impact the respective definition has on the topics discussed in the discipline according to topic modeling approaches.

To remove stopwords we used the snowball stopword list from the stopwords package in R (Benoit et al. 2020 ), and custom wordlists containing (1) time related words (“year”, “january”, etc.), (2) numeral related words (“one”, “tenth”, etc.), and (3) miscellaneous subject related words (“examine”, “study”, etc.). The lemmatization was achieved through the ‘lemmatize_words’ function of the R package ‘textstem’ (Rinker 2018 ). The abstracts were tokenized into words through the ‘tokenize_words’ function of the R package ‘tokenizers’ (Mullen et al. 2018 ).

Please note that across all evaluated numbers of topics we find a high consistency of topic-document assignments (further details are discussed in "Appendix 1 ").

We denoted the ten journals with the highest impact factor in 2018 as HI journals. These include Annual Review of Psychology , Behavioral and Brain Sciences , Psychological Bulletin , Trends in Cognitive Sciences , Annual Review of Clinical Psychology , Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics , Psychological Inquiry , Clinical Psychology Review , and Personality and Social Psychology Review .

Note that junk topic 30 dealing with APA and publication issues is even more prevalent, but without meaning for our analysis. Because of this we decided to exclude it from our analysis.

The expected average document-topic probability is calculated by 1/ k .

The changes over time were significant for each topic except topics 6 (teamwork), 13 (memory), 23 (animal communication), and 58 (neurotransmitters). A full account of the significance of change in topic proportion, intercept and slope is given in "Appendix 2 ".

A comparison between our sample and PsycINFO is provided in "Appendix 3 ".

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We thank the two anonymous reviewers for important critiques and suggestions that significantly improved our article, as well as Brigitte Münzel and Isabella Czedik-Eysenberg for additional proofreading.

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Appendix 1: Details on Structural Topic Models

Although STMs solve other technical issues like finding the optimal starting parameters and providing consistent results by a “spectral initialization” (Arora et al. 2013 ), selecting an appropriate number of topics is crucial for any further analysis. It remains a central task for researchers to interpret the latent semantic space qualitatively and decide whether the presented topics are meaningful or one is only “reading tea leaves” (Chang et al. 2009 ). Besides the problem of “garbage in, garbage out” ousting for all models (McFarland et al. 2016 ), determining the number of topics ( k ) is a wide-ranging decision made by the researcher. Insufficient numbers render models coarse, an excessive number could result in a model too complex for further investigation.

Comparable to efforts in cluster analysis to determine the optimal number of clusters, there is no “right” answer to the question on how many topics are appropriate for a given corpus (Grimmer and Stewart 2013 ; Munoz-Najar Galvez et al. 2020 ). Due to the fact that there is not a single, correct number of topics found in a corpus, careful examination and pondering of different topic solutions is key to choose a topic model that allows for qualitative judgment of the researchers (Rule et al. 2015 ). Fortunately, the qualitative consideration can be complemented and assisted by statistical measures.

Following this line of reasoning, we propose a twofold approach to choose the optimal number k of topics before we interpret the results of our STM qualitatively. First, we check internal validity of different choices of k by statistical measures. Second, we check consistency across k -models. Especially the last aspect demonstrates that almost all topics found by STMs are “nested”, and that k does not alter the semantic space substantially. Therefore our main unit of investigation is rather stable regardless of k being X or Y.

To investigate the internal validity of our models, we apply measures of semantic coherence and exclusivity. Both are widely used measures to approximate the number of k in topic models (Mimno et al. 2011 ; Roberts et al. 2014 ). The coherence of a semantic space addresses whether a topic is internally consistent by calculating the frequency with which words being highly associated with a topic (given by \(\theta\) ) tend to co-occur in documents. However, semantic coherence alone can be misleading since high values can simply be obtained by very common words that occur together systematically in most documents and are associated with the same topic. We therefore consider the exclusivity of topics in order to select a model with optimal number of distinct topics (Roberts et al. 2014 ). This measure provides us with the extent to which the tokens of a topic are distinct to it, i.e. words that have only high loadings in one topic. Both exclusivity and coherence complement each other and, hence, are examined in concert to give us a comprehensive, quantitative impression on the choice of k .

Thus, we are looking for a “plateau” of both indicators. This gives us an upper limit for reasonable k -number of topics. Figure 5 shows that this limit may well be between 80 and 100. After that plateau, coherence falls rather rapidly and exclusivity increases only slightly. This holds when we depict the distribution of the metrics by topic using violin plots Fig. 6 . 80 and 100 have the least outliers. To maximize resolution, we choose 100 as the best solution. As presented in Fig. 8 and Tables 5 , 6 , and 7 the hundred topics in our selected solution show very reasonable coherence and exclusivity values.

figure 5

Distribution of exclusivity (right y-axis) and semantic coherence (left) on two axis. In general, exclusivity improves with a rising number of topics, whereas coherence gets worse

figure 6

Depicts each topic as a point and the distribution of the metric as violin plot for each k . Red triangles show means of each k

In addition, we check the consistency of our topic models across a range of k . For that purpose, we use the “Fowlkes-Mallows index” (FM). It provides a straight-forward way to measure consistency by investigating the rate of change with regard to topic-document assignments across different values of k . To assign topics to documents we used the max-approach so that each document is assigned to its maximum topic, i.e., the max-theta of a document defines its topic. Figure 7 shows that k on the x-axis represents similarity of topic-assignments for all docs between two consecutive k ’s, i.e. a STM with k -topics is compared to the next smaller STM with \(k-50\) . We see relatively high and growing values of consistency from 50 to 100 topics. The FM index at \(k=100\) marks the peak, i.e., the STM with 100 topics is largely consistent with lower ranges of k . After 100 topics, consistency declines before ascending again after 150 topics. The value at \(k=100\) suggests that almost two thirds of topic assignments are stable. Hence, the choice of k suggested by FM is in line with the values provided by the coherence and exclusivity measures.

figure 7

Fowlkes-Mallows index indicating overlap of topic-assignments (max-approach) for consecutive k ’s

figure 8

Exclusivity and coherence of all topics (outlier T8: psychoanalysis marked in red)

Appendix 2: Significance levels of the slopes of the topic change over time

Appendix 3: additional sample information.

The PsycINFO database covers 2, 307 journals. In comparison, our sample comprises 642 journals of which 639 outlets are also contained in PsycINFO. Furthermore, we included 709 conference proceedings in our data. Insofar, we cover \(27.70\%\) of the journals included in PsycINFO. In total, the Web of Science sample used in this article includes 487, 816 of the 2, 434, 849 ( \(20.03\%\) ) abstracts of articles available in PsycINFO.

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Wieczorek, O., Unger, S., Riebling, J. et al. Mapping the field of psychology: Trends in research topics 1995–2015. Scientometrics 126 , 9699–9731 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-021-04069-9

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50+ Topics of Psychology Research

How to Find Psychology Research Topics for Your Student Paper

Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

research topic on psychology pdf

Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.

research topic on psychology pdf

Are you searching for a great topic for your psychology paper ? Sometimes it seems like coming up with topics of psychology research 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.

In some cases, such as in a general psychology class, you might have the option to select any topic from within psychology's broad reach. 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.

As you begin your search for a topic for your psychology paper, it is first important to consider the guidelines established by your instructor.

Topics of Psychology Research Within Specific Branches

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:

  • Prejudice and discrimination (i.e., homophobia, sexism, racism)
  • Social cognition
  • Person perception
  • Social control and cults
  • Persuasion , propaganda, and marketing
  • Attraction, romance, and love
  • Nonverbal communication
  • Prosocial behavior

Psychology Research Topics Involving 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:

  • Eating disorders
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Seasonal affective disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Profile a  type of therapy  (i.e., cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, psychoanalytic therapy)

Topics of Psychology Research 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:

  • False memories
  • Speech disorders
  • Problem-solving

Topics of Psychology Research 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:

  • Language acquisition
  • Media violence and children
  • Learning disabilities
  • Gender roles
  • Child abuse
  • Prenatal development
  • Parenting styles
  • Aspects of the aging process

Do a Critique of Publications Involving Psychology Research Topics

One option is to consider writing a 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 great places 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 one that grabs your attention.

Topics of Psychology Research Related to Famous Experiments

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:

  • The Milgram Obedience Experiment
  • The Stanford Prison Experiment
  • The Little Albert Experiment
  • Pavlov's Conditioning Experiments
  • The Asch Conformity Experiment
  • Harlow's Rhesus Monkey Experiments

Topics of Psychology Research About Historical Figures

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 .

Psychology Research Topics About a Specific 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 the different employment options that are available.

Topics of Psychology Research Involving Case Studies

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.

Psychology Research Topics Involving Literature Reviews

Another possibility that would work well for a number of psychology courses is to do a literature review of a specific topic within psychology. A literature review involves finding a variety of sources on a particular subject, then summarizing and reporting on what these sources have to say about the topic.

Literature reviews are generally found in the  introduction  of journal articles and other  psychology papers , but this type of analysis also works well for a full-scale psychology term paper.

Topics of Psychology Research Based on Your Own Study or Experiment

Many psychology courses require students to design an actual psychological study or perform some type of experiment. In some cases, students simply devise the study and then imagine the possible results that might occur. In other situations, you may actually have the opportunity to collect data, analyze your findings, and write up your results.

Finding a topic for your study can be difficult, but there are plenty of great ways to come up with intriguing ideas. Start by considering your own interests as well as subjects you have studied in the past.

Online sources, newspaper articles, books , journal articles, and even your own class textbook are all great places to start searching for topics for your experiments and psychology term papers. Before you begin, learn more about  how to conduct a psychology experiment .

A Word From Verywell

After looking at this brief list of possible topics for psychology papers, it is easy to see that psychology is a very broad and diverse subject. While this variety makes it possible to find a topic that really catches your interest, it can sometimes make it very difficult for some students to select a good topic.

If you are still stumped by your assignment, ask your instructor for suggestions and consider a few from this list for inspiration.

  • Hockenbury, SE & Nolan, SA. Psychology. New York: Worth Publishers; 2014.
  • Santrock, JW. A Topical Approach to Lifespan Development. New York: McGraw-Hill Education; 2016.

By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

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  • J. Williams

research topic on psychology pdf

Hyperrealistic neural decoding for reconstructing faces from fMRI activations via the GAN latent space

  • Thirza Dado
  • Yağmur Güçlütürk

research topic on psychology pdf

Brain aging differs with cognitive ability regardless of education

  • Kristine B. Walhovd
  • Lars Nyberg
  • Anders M. Fjell

research topic on psychology pdf

Short-sighted decision-making by those not vaccinated against COVID-19

  • Julia G. Halilova
  • Samuel Fynes-Clinton
  • R. Shayna Rosenbaum

research topic on psychology pdf

Groove rhythm stimulates prefrontal cortex function in groove enjoyers

  • Takemune Fukuie
  • Kazuya Suwabe
  • Hideaki Soya

research topic on psychology pdf

Human magnetic sense is mediated by a light and magnetic field resonance-dependent mechanism

  • Kwon-Seok Chae
  • Soo-Chan Kim
  • Yongkuk Kim

research topic on psychology pdf

Innovative composite tool use by Goffin’s cockatoos ( Cacatua goffiniana )

  • Antonio J. Osuna-Mascaró
  • Roger Mundry
  • Alice M. I. Auersperg

research topic on psychology pdf

Is a downwards head tilt a cross-cultural signal of dominance? Evidence for a universal visual illusion

  • Zachary Witkower
  • Alexander K. Hill
  • Jessica L. Tracy

research topic on psychology pdf

Systematic review and meta-analysis of cognitive impairment in myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS)

  • Mehdi Aoun Sebaiti
  • Mathieu Hainselin
  • François Jérôme Authier

research topic on psychology pdf

Identification and validation of Alzheimer’s disease-related metabolic brain pattern in biomarker confirmed Alzheimer’s dementia patients

  • Matej Perovnik
  • Petra Tomše

research topic on psychology pdf

Impact of fasting on stress systems and depressive symptoms in patients with major depressive disorder: a cross-sectional study

  • Britta Stapel
  • Daniela Fraccarollo
  • Kai G. Kahl

research topic on psychology pdf

Bio-behavioral synchrony is a potential mechanism for mate selection in humans

  • Nathalie klein Selle

research topic on psychology pdf

The cognitive and psychiatric subacute impairment in severe Covid-19

  • Pedro J. Serrano-Castro
  • Francisco J. Garzón-Maldonado
  • Fernando Rodríguez de Fonseca

research topic on psychology pdf

CNS imaging characteristics in fibromyalgia patients with and without peripheral nerve involvement

  • Hans-Christoph Aster
  • Dimitar Evdokimov
  • Claudia Sommer

research topic on psychology pdf

The effects of contracting Covid-19 on cognitive failures at work: implications for task performance and turnover intentions

  • James W. Beck

research topic on psychology pdf

The effects of mindfulness meditation versus CBT for anxiety on emotional distress and attitudes toward seeking mental health treatment: a semi-randomized trial

  • Daniela Aisenberg-Shafran
  • Liav Shturm

Trait emotional intelligence in American pilots

  • Zachary Dugger
  • K. V. Petrides
  • Bernadette McCrory

research topic on psychology pdf

Mindfulness meditation increases default mode, salience, and central executive network connectivity

  • Benno Bremer
  • Kathrin Koch

research topic on psychology pdf

Effect of MIND diet intervention on cognitive performance and brain structure in healthy obese women: a randomized controlled trial

  • Golnaz Arjmand
  • Mojtaba Abbas-Zadeh
  • Mohammad Hassan Eftekhari

research topic on psychology pdf

Bodily ownership of an independent supernumerary limb: an exploratory study

  • Kohei Umezawa
  • Yuta Suzuki
  • Yoichi Miyawaki

Anabolic–androgenic steroid use is associated with psychopathy, risk-taking, anger, and physical problems

  • Bryan S. Nelson
  • Tom Hildebrandt
  • Pascal Wallisch

research topic on psychology pdf

Longitudinal changes in auditory and reward systems following receptive music-based intervention in older adults

  • Milena Aiello Quinci
  • Alexander Belden
  • Psyche Loui

research topic on psychology pdf

Reaction time and working memory in gamers and non-gamers

  • Ronnie Lidor

research topic on psychology pdf

Simulated visual hallucinations in virtual reality enhance cognitive flexibility

  • Clara Rastelli
  • Antonino Greco
  • Nicola De Pisapia

research topic on psychology pdf

Rapid but specific perceptual learning partially explains individual differences in the recognition of challenging speech

  • Karen Banai
  • Hanin Karawani
  • Yizhar Lavner

research topic on psychology pdf

Mindfulness-based online intervention increases well-being and decreases stress after Covid-19 lockdown

  • Francesco Bossi
  • Francesca Zaninotto
  • Emiliano Ricciardi

research topic on psychology pdf

Automated meta-analysis of the event-related potential (ERP) literature

  • Thomas Donoghue
  • Bradley Voytek

research topic on psychology pdf

Model-based learning retrospectively updates model-free values

  • Maaike M. H. Van Swieten
  • Sanjay G. Manohar

research topic on psychology pdf

Interaction with the future self in virtual reality reduces self-defeating behavior in a sample of convicted offenders

  • Jean-Louis van Gelder
  • Liza J. M. Cornet
  • Job van der Schalk

research topic on psychology pdf

The newborn brain is sensitive to the communicative function of language

  • Bálint Forgács
  • Tibor Tauzin
  • Judit Gervain

research topic on psychology pdf

Cognitive profiles in children and adolescents with Down syndrome

  • Sara Onnivello
  • Francesca Pulina
  • Silvia Lanfranchi

research topic on psychology pdf

Short term treatment with a cocktail of rapamycin, acarbose and phenylbutyrate delays aging phenotypes in mice

  • Warren Ladiges

research topic on psychology pdf

Effects of exploring a novel environment on memory across the lifespan

  • Judith Schomaker
  • Valentin Baumann
  • Marit F. L. Ruitenberg

research topic on psychology pdf

The impact of psychopathology on academic performance in school-age children and adolescents

  • Mireia Pagerols
  • Raquel Prat

research topic on psychology pdf

Effect of berry-based supplements and foods on cognitive function: a systematic review

  • Negar Bonyadi
  • Neda Dolatkhah
  • Maryam Hashemian

research topic on psychology pdf

Attention rhythmically samples multi-feature objects in working memory

  • Samson Chota
  • Stefan Van der Stigchel

research topic on psychology pdf

Functional brain connectomes reflect acute and chronic cannabis use

  • J. G. Ramaekers
  • N. L. Mason

research topic on psychology pdf

Simple questionnaires outperform behavioral tasks to measure socio-emotional skills in students

  • Mélusine Boon-Falleur
  • Adrien Bouguen
  • Coralie Chevallier

research topic on psychology pdf

Neuronal effects of glabellar botulinum toxin injections using a valenced inhibition task in borderline personality disorder

  • Tillmann H. C. Kruger
  • Jara Schulze
  • M. Axel Wollmer

research topic on psychology pdf

Naloxone’s dose-dependent displacement of [ 11 C]carfentanil and duration of receptor occupancy in the rat brain

  • Kelly A. O’Conor
  • Nora D. Volkow

research topic on psychology pdf

rs-fMRI and machine learning for ASD diagnosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis

  • Caio Pinheiro Santana
  • Emerson Assis de Carvalho
  • Lucelmo Lacerda de Brito

research topic on psychology pdf

Machine learning and expression analyses reveal circadian clock features predictive of anxiety

  • Rebeccah Overton
  • Krista Ingram

research topic on psychology pdf

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on oral health and psychosocial factors

  • Antonio Ciardo
  • Marlinde M. Simon

research topic on psychology pdf

Facial asymmetry in dogs with fear and aggressive behaviors towards humans

  • Marcello Siniscalchi
  • Serenella d’Ingeo
  • Angelo Quaranta

research topic on psychology pdf

Superposition mechanism as a neural basis for understanding others

  • Wataru Noguchi
  • Hiroyuki Iizuka
  • Shigeru Taguchi

research topic on psychology pdf

Influence of diurnal phase on behavioral tests of sensorimotor performance, anxiety, learning and memory in mice

  • Chi-Hui Tsao
  • Jonathan Flint
  • Guo-Jen Huang

research topic on psychology pdf

Gender stereotypes about intellectual ability in Japanese children

  • Mako Okanda
  • Xianwei Meng
  • Yusuke Moriguchi

research topic on psychology pdf

Meta-analytic evidence that mindfulness training alters resting state default mode network connectivity

  • Hadley Rahrig
  • David R. Vago
  • Kirk Warren Brown

research topic on psychology pdf

Mentalization and dissociation after adverse childhood experiences

  • J. Wagner-Skacel

research topic on psychology pdf

fMRI-based validation of continuous-wave fNIRS of supplementary motor area activation during motor execution and motor imagery

  • Franziska Klein
  • Stefan Debener
  • Cornelia Kranczioch

Predictors of adherence to public health behaviors for fighting COVID-19 derived from longitudinal data

  • Birga M. Schumpe
  • Caspar J. Van Lissa
  • N. Pontus Leander

research topic on psychology pdf

High-resolution cortical parcellation based on conserved brain landmarks for localization of multimodal data to the nearest centimeter

  • Hari McGrath
  • Hitten P. Zaveri
  • Dennis D. Spencer

research topic on psychology pdf

Validation of the forced swim test in Drosophila , and its use to demonstrate psilocybin has long-lasting antidepressant-like effects in flies

  • C. D. Nichols

research topic on psychology pdf

Time pressure changes how people explore and respond to uncertainty

  • Charley M. Wu
  • Eric Schulz
  • Maarten Speekenbrink

research topic on psychology pdf

Functional connectivity of brain networks with three monochromatic wavelengths: a pilot study using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging

  • Marc Argilés
  • Bernat Sunyer-Grau
  • Cleofé Peña-Gómez

research topic on psychology pdf

Behavioral coping phenotypes and associated psychosocial outcomes of pregnant and postpartum women during the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Denise M. Werchan
  • Cassandra L. Hendrix
  • Natalie H. Brito

research topic on psychology pdf

Spontaneous activity patterns in human motor cortex replay evoked activity patterns for hand movements

  • Tomer Livne
  • Maurizio Corbetta

research topic on psychology pdf

Sensory processing sensitivity and somatosensory brain activation when feeling touch

  • Michael Schaefer
  • Anja Kühnel
  • Matti Gärtner

research topic on psychology pdf

The interplay between cognition, depression, anxiety, and sleep in primary Sjogren’s syndrome patients

  • Radjiv Goulabchand
  • Elodie Castille
  • Philippe Guilpain

research topic on psychology pdf

Dynamics of adolescents’ smartphone use and well-being are positive but ephemeral

  • Laura Marciano
  • Charles C. Driver
  • Anne-Linda Camerini

research topic on psychology pdf

ADHD symptoms and use of anabolic androgenic steroids among male weightlifters

  • Emilie Kildal
  • Bjørnar Hassel
  • Astrid Bjørnebekk

Facial mask personalization encourages facial mask wearing in times of COVID-19

  • Johanna Palcu
  • Martin Schreier
  • Chris Janiszewski

research topic on psychology pdf

Exploring brain activity for positive and negative emotions by means of EEG microstates

  • Giulia Prete
  • Pierpaolo Croce
  • Paolo Capotosto

research topic on psychology pdf

A network approach to relationships between cannabis use characteristics and psychopathology in the general population

  • Linda T. Betz
  • Nora Penzel
  • Joseph Kambeitz

research topic on psychology pdf

Socioeconomic status impacts cognitive and socioemotional processes in healthy ageing

  • Joaquín Migeot
  • Mariela Calivar
  • Sol Fittipaldi

research topic on psychology pdf

Parental praise and children’s exploration: a virtual reality experiment

  • Eddie Brummelman
  • Stathis Grapsas
  • Katinka van der Kooij

research topic on psychology pdf

Africans and Europeans differ in their facial perception of dominance and sex-typicality: a multidimensional Bayesian approach

  • Vojtěch Fiala
  • Petr Tureček
  • Karel Kleisner

research topic on psychology pdf

Brain information processing capacity modeling

  • Tongtong Li
  • Karl Friston

research topic on psychology pdf

Safety evaluation of β-nicotinamide mononucleotide oral administration in healthy adult men and women

  • Yuichiro Fukamizu
  • Yoshiaki Uchida
  • Takanobu Sakurai

research topic on psychology pdf

Neural oscillations promoting perceptual stability and perceptual memory during bistable perception

  • Michael Zhu
  • Richard Hardstone

research topic on psychology pdf

The effects of probiotics on risk and time preferences

  • Aline M. Dantas
  • Alexander T. Sack
  • Teresa Schuhmann

research topic on psychology pdf

Media-multitasking and cognitive control across the lifespan

  • Natasha Matthews
  • J. B. Mattingley

research topic on psychology pdf

Depressive symptoms reduce when dorsolateral prefrontal cortex-precuneus connectivity normalizes after functional connectivity neurofeedback

  • Jessica Elizabeth Taylor
  • Takashi Yamada
  • Tomokazu Motegi

research topic on psychology pdf

Intranasal insulin modulates cerebrospinal fluid markers of neuroinflammation in mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease: a randomized trial

  • Derek Kellar
  • Thomas Register
  • Suzanne Craft

research topic on psychology pdf

COVID-19 conspiracy ideation is associated with the delusion proneness trait and resistance to update of beliefs

  • O. Horntvedt
  • P. Petrovic

research topic on psychology pdf

Hand constraint reduces brain activity and affects the speed of verbal responses on semantic tasks

  • Kunihito Tobita
  • Shogo Makioka

research topic on psychology pdf

Impaired grouping of ambient facial images in autism

  • Bayparvah Kaur Gehdu
  • Katie L. H. Gray
  • Richard Cook

research topic on psychology pdf

Social support, psychological flexibility and coping mediate the association between COVID-19 related stress exposure and psychological distress

  • Richard Tindle
  • Ahmed A. Moustafa

research topic on psychology pdf

Gender dysphoria in twins: a register-based population study

  • Georgios Karamanis
  • Maria Karalexi
  • Fotios C. Papadopoulos

research topic on psychology pdf

Learning from communication versus observation in great apes

  • Hanna Marno
  • Christoph J. Völter

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research topic on psychology pdf

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List of Topics for RESEARCH PAPERS in Psychology

Profile image of Yashwant Pukale

The topics listed below cover the varied fields of psychology. These will thus provide a wide range of choices for you to choose from depending on your area of expertise and interest.

Related Papers

Manjunath R

These papers provide a breadth of information about psychology [the study of the human mind and behavior] that is generally useful and interesting from a psychological science perspective.

research topic on psychology pdf

Ricielle Precia Viluan

Your research paper, and the resulting thesis statement, must be an ARGUABLE issue. Be prepared to present the actual findings of your research convincingly even if you discover that your findings differ from your personal opinions. Remember, research is objective and not a " soap box " for personal views. The following topics have been divided by subject:

Jeff Immanuel

KMB Electricals & Plumbing

The next thing the reader will see is the abstract. This is a summary of the article. This is written after the rest of the article has been completed. The only exception to this is that some conferences want you to submit an abstract, usually an elongated one, as a proposal of what you are going to say in your oral or poster presentation. In that case, the abstract is written after the data have been collected and statistically analyzed, but perhaps before the entire discussion section has been written.

A free textbook on research methods for the social sciences, an open educational resource.

Ágnes Szokolszky

This work is a comprehensive guide on finding and reading scholarly literature written in the English language, with a brief outlook on how to write up papers. This work has been written for Hungarian students, with an emphasis on the field of psychology. The main goal is to help students improve their understanding and skills in searching, reading, and critically evaluating scholarly psychology literature in English, and help them improve their writing skills.

Teaching of Psychology

Steven G LoBello , Peter Zachar

Psychology Dissertations and Theses

Theses/dissertations from 2023 2023.

Examining Factors Impacting the Service Needs of Unhoused Women , Holly Brott

Main, Mediated, and Moderated Effects of Participating in an After-School Social and Emotional Learning Program on Young Children's Development of Social-Emotional Skills , Amy L. Cordier

Who Puts the "Support" in Supportive Housing? The Impact of Housing Staff on Resident's Well-Being, and the Potential Moderating Role of Self-Determination , Kenna Estell Dickard

Motivation to Collaborate: A Qualitative Exploration of the Perspectives of Service Providers on an Alternative First Response Program , Desiree' J. DuBoise

Tell Me, Do You Feel It Too? A Meta-analysis of Dyadic Emotional Contagion in the Workplace , Stefanie Fox

Left on "Read" and All Alone: Instigated Cyber Incivility, Shame, and Experienced Ostracism at Work , Alison Lucia Hunt

Exploring Associations between Military Identity and Well-being Outcomes among Post-9/11 Veterans after Separation , James David Lee

Experiences of People with Serious Mental Illness Seeking Services at Community Mental Health Centers During the COVID-19 Pandemic , Emily Leickly

Why So Serious? Using the Belongingness Need Tenet from the Self-Determination Theory to Examine Workplace Humor and Its Outcomes , Katharine Lucille McMahon

Stress-Reduction from Positive Support: Impacts of Receiving Partner Capitalization Support on Veteran Stress/Work Stress , MaryAnn Dona Samson

Diversity in Recruitment: The Role of Realistic Website Job Previews for Racial and Ethnic Minority Applicants , Jennifer Saucedo

Antecedents of FSSB: Evaluating the Demographic Basis of Support , Erika Ann Schemmel

A Daily Investigation of the Recovery Paradox: Examining the Dynamic Interplay of Workload, Recovery Experiences, and Microbreaks , Morgan Rose Taylor

Not on the Menu: Customer Sexual Harassment in the Restaurant Industry , Fernanda Wolburg Martinez

Theses/Dissertations from 2022 2022

Model.Disclose(): Examination of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Disclosure at Work , Timothy Allen Carsey

Transforming Learning Communities, Transforming Ourselves: A Qualitative Investigation of Identity Processes in a Participatory Action Research-themed Undergraduate Course , Julia Sara Dancis

Clarifying and Measuring Inclusive Leadership , Kelly Mason Hamilton

Intersections of Masculinity, Culturally Relevant Factors, and Intimate Partner Violence Perpetration Among Asian American Men , Jason Z. Kyler-Yano

Sleeping to Support: An Examination of the Relationship Between Leader Sleep and Positive Support Behaviors , Jordyn Jan Leslie

Work-Related IPV Among Latinos: Exploring the Roles of Fatherhood Status, Gendered Expectations, and Support for Intimate Partner's Employment , Adrian Luis Manriquez

Masculinity Instability and Ideologies as Predictors of IPV Perpetration: The Mediating Role of Relationship Power , Emma Christine Marioles O'Connor

The Benefits of Social Support on Health and Well-Being in Military Populations: Examining Mechanisms, Source of Support, and the Reach of a Workplace Well-Being Intervention , AnnaMarie Sophia O'Neill

Do Motives Matter? The Role of Motivation in Shaping the Impact of Mindfulness Training on Teachers' Psychological Distress and Wellbeing , Cristi N. Pinela

Theses/Dissertations from 2021 2021

The Longitudinal Effects of a Family and Sleep Supportive Intervention on Service Member Anger and Resilience , Shalene Joyce Allen

Drug Conviction and Employment Restriction: Experiences of Employees with Drug-Related Criminal Histories , Liana Bernard

Sustaining Boys' Motivation Over the Transition to Middle School: Can Interpersonal Resources Protect Boys from Engagement Declines Across Sixth Grade? , Brandy Anne Brennan

Returning to Rejection: Outcomes and Boundary Conditions of Mental Illness Stereotypes , Stefanie Fox

Guarding Against Strain: The Moderating Role of Nonwork Experiences in the Relationship Between Work-Related Hypervigilance and Strain in Correctional Officers , Samantha Getzen

Anti-Muslim Bias: Investigating Individual Differences, Threat Perceptions, and Emotions in Islamophobic Policy Support , Aeleah M. Granger

Black Children's Development of Self-Regulation within Stressful Contexts of Parenting: Investigating Potential Buffering Effects of a Kindergarten Social-Emotional Learning Program , Eli Labinger

"Like I Was an Actual Researcher": Participation and Identity Trajectories of Underrepresented Minority and First-Generation STEM Students in Research Training Communities of Practice , Jennifer Lynn Lindwall

Claiming Miscommunication to Justify Rape: The Role of Liking the Perpetrator , Alyssa Marie Glace Maryn

An "I" for an "I" : A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Instigated and Reciprocal Incivility , Lauren Sarah Park

Parenting and Children's Academic Coping as a Dynamic System: Feedforward, Feedback, and Mediators of Changes Across the School Year , Kristen Elizabeth Raine

Does Experiencing Spousal Support and Strain Impact the Quality of Family-Based Support that Supervisors Provide to Employees? , Joseph Alvin Sherwood

"B-ing Flexible" : Examining Creativity in Bisexual Employees , Megan Jane Snoeyink

Exploring the Relationships Between Community Experiences and Well-Being among Youth Experiencing Homelessness , Katricia Stewart

Mothers' Drinking Motives , Sheila Kathleen Umemoto

An Examination of Nurses' Schedule Characteristics, Recovery from Work, and Well-Being , Sarah Elizabeth Van Dyck

Preventing Sexual Violence Through Understanding Perceptions of Sexual Offenders , Judith G. Zatkin

Theses/Dissertations from 2020 2020

Examining Employee Needs at Work and Home: a Self-Determination Theory Perspective , Dana Anuhea Auten

Trajectories, Time Windows, and Alternative Pathways of Engagement: Motivational Resources Underlying Academic Development during Middle School , Heather Anne Brule

Examining Mindfulness Training for Teachers: Theoretical and Methodological Extensions of Intervention Effectiveness , Jaiya Rae Choles

Detecting Reinforcement Patterns in the Stream of Naturalistic Observations of Social Interactions , James Lamar DeLaney 3rd

An Investigation of the Temporal Relationship Between Agitation and Sleep Disturbances , Emily Catherine Denning

Peers' Academic Coping as a Resource for Academic Engagement and Motivational Resilience in the First Year of Middle School , Daniel Lee Grimes

Home Resources Supporting Workplace Resources: an Investigation of Moderated Intervention Effects From the Study for Employment Retention of Veterans (SERVe) , Sarah Nielsen Haverly

"It Puts a Face to All the Knowledge We've Gotten" : a Program of Research on Intimate Partner Violence Surrogate Impact Panels , Kate Louise Sackett Kerrigan

A Daily Examination of Anger and Alcohol Use Among Post-9/11 Veterans , James David Lee

An Examination of Daily Family-Supportive Supervisor Behaviors, Perceived Supervisor Responsiveness and Job Satisfaction , Luke Daniel Mahoney

Nurse Can't Even: the Immediate Impact of Incivility on Affect, Well-being, and Behavior , Katharine Lucille McMahon

Perceptions of Police Use of Force at the Intersection of Race and Pregnancy , Emma Elizabeth Lee Money

The Impact of Paternal Caregivers for Youth Who Commit Sexual Offenses , Miranda Hope Sitney

Human Energy in the Workplace: an Investigation of Daily Energy Management Strategies, Job Stressors and Employee Outcomes , Morgan Rose Taylor

Individual and Community Supports that Impact Community Inclusion and Recovery for Individuals with Serious Mental Illnesses , Rachel Elizabeth Terry

Investigating Sexual Fantasy and Sexual Behavior in Adolescent Offenders , Hayley Lauren Tews

Theses/Dissertations from 2019 2019

Integrating Work Ability into the Organizational Science Literature: Advancing Theory and Developing the Nomological Network , Grant Brady

Family Linked Workplace Resources and Contextual Factors as Important Predictors of Job and Individual Well-being for Employees and Families , Jacquelyn Marie Brady

The Role of Teacher Autonomy Support Across the Transition to Middle School: its Components, Reach, and Developmental Effects , Julia Sara Dancis

Does X Mark the Applicant? Assessing Reactions to Gender Non-Binary Job Seekers , Kelly Mason Hamilton

Urbanicity as a Moderator of the Relationship Between Stigma and Well-being Outcomes for Individuals with Serious Mental Illnesses , Emily Leickly

The Relationship Between Undergraduate Research Training Programs and Motivational Resources for Underrepresented Minority Students in STEM: Program Participation, Self-efficacy, a Sense of Belonging, and Academic Performance , Jennifer Lindwall

Perceived Partner Responsiveness, Sleep and Pain: a Dyadic Study of Military-Connected Couples , AnnaMarie Sophia O'Neill

Recruitment Marketing: How Do Wellness and Work-Life Benefits Influence Employer Image Perceptions, Organizational Attraction, and Job Pursuit Intentions? , Amy Christine Pytlovany

The Combined Effects of Parent and Teacher Involvement on the Development of Adolescents' Academic Engagement , Nicolette Paige Rickert

Examining the Development and Classroom Dynamics of Student Disaffection Over Multiple Time Periods: Short-term Episodes and Long-term Trajectories , Emily Anne Saxton

Drinking on a Work Night: a Comparison of Day and Person-Level Associations with Workplace Outcomes , Brittnie Renae Shepherd

Development and Validation of the Workplace Mental Illness Stigma Scale (W-MISS) , Nicholas Anthony Smith

Relational Thriving in Context: Examining the Roles of Gratitude, Affectionate Touch, and Positive Affective Variability in Health and Well-Being , Alicia Rochelle Starkey

Preventing Child Sexual Abuse and Juvenile Offending Through Parental Monitoring , Kelly E. Stewart

"To Call or Not to Call?" The Impact of Supervisor Training on Call Center Employee Attitudes and Well-Being , Whitney Elan Schneider Vogel

Theses/Dissertations from 2018 2018

The Impact of Leader Race and Gender on Perceptions of Organizations in Response to Corporate Error , Nicolas Derek Brown

Impacts of Mindfulness Training on Mechanisms Underlying Stress Reduction in Teachers: Results from a Randomized Controlled Trial , Jaiya Rae Choles

Student Motivation Profiles as a Diagnostic Tool to Help Teachers Provide Targeted Support , Cailin Tricia Currie

Insufficient Effort Responding on Mturk Surveys: Evidence-Based Quality Control for Organizational Research , Lee Cyr

Affirmative Consent Endorsement and Peer Norms Supporting Sexual Violence Among Vulnerable Students on College Campuses , Alyssa Marie Glace

Gendered Partner-Ideals, Relationship Satisfaction, and Intimate Partner Violence , Sylvia Marie Ferguson Kidder

Organizational Calling and Safety: the Role of Workload and Supervisor Support , Layla Rhiannon Mansfield

Bystander Intervention to Prevent Campus Sexual Violence: the Role of Sense of Community, Peer Norms, and Administrative Responding , Erin Christine McConnell

Benevolent Sexism and Racial Stereotypes: Targets, Functions, and Consequences , Jean Marie McMahon

Perceived Overqualification and Withdrawal Among Seasonal Workers: Would Work Motivation Make a Difference? , Anthony Duy Nguyen

Differential Well-Being in Response to Incivility and Surface Acting among Nurses as a Function of Race , Lauren Sarah Park

Financial Strain and the Work-Home Interface: a Test of the Work-Home Resources Model from the Study for Employment Retention of Veterans (SERVe) , MacKenna Laine Perry

Neighbor Perceptions of Psychiatric Supportive Housing : the Role of Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviors , Amy Leigh Shearer

The Role of Caregiver Disruption in the Development of Juvenile Sexual Offenders , Miranda Sitney

Intrapersonal and Social-Contextual Factors Related to Psychological Well-being among Youth Experiencing Homelessness , Katricia Stewart

Age-based Differences in the Usefulness of Resources: a Multi-Study Investigation of Work and Well-being Outcomes , Lale Muazzez Yaldiz

Pathways to Kindergarten Growth: Synthesizing Theories of the Kindergarten Transition to Support Children's Development , Rita Yelverton

Theses/Dissertations from 2017 2017

The Force of Manhood: the Consequences of Masculinity Threat on Police Officer Use of Force , Aurelia Terese Alston

Supervisor Mindfulness and Its Association with Leader-Member Exchange , Dana Anuhea Auten

Combat Experiences, Iso-strain, and Sleep Quality Affect Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress among Working Post-9/11 Veterans , Gilbert Patrick Brady Jr.

A Study of Shame-proneness, Drinking Behaviors, and Workplace Role Ambiguity Among a Sample of Student Workers , Sarah Nielsen Haverly

Intraminority Support For and Participation In Race-Based Collective Action Movements: an Intersectional Perspective , Jaboa Shawntaé Lake

Patients and Nurses and Doctors Oh My!: Nurse Retention from a Multi-Foci Aggression Perspective , Kevin Oliver Novak

Intimate Partner Violence Impact Panels for Batterer Intervention: a Mixed-Methods Evaluation of a Restorative Justice Process , Kate Louise Sackett

Investigating the Relationship Between Supervisor Status and the Modus Operandi of Juvenile Sexual Offenders: a Routine Activity Theory Perspective , Kelly E. Stewart

The Influence of Sense of Community on the Relationship Between Community Participation and Recovery for Individuals with Serious Mental Illnesses , Rachel Elizabeth Terry

Profiles of School Readiness and Implications for Children's Development of Academic, Social, and Engagement Skills , Elizabeth Jane Tremaine

Capturing Peers', Teachers', and Parents' Joint Contributions to Students' Engagement: an Exploration of Models , Justin William Vollet

Sleep and Young Children's Development of Self-Regulation and Academic Skills , Emily Michelle Weiss

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Introduction to Psychology

(22 reviews)

research topic on psychology pdf

Copyright Year: 2015

ISBN 13: 9781946135131

Publisher: University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing

Language: English

Formats Available

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research topic on psychology pdf

Reviewed by Linda Freeman, Professor of Psychology, Valencia College on 6/1/20

At our learning institution, the preponderance of our students select General Psychology in order to fulfill their general education requirement. Since most of our students are not psychology majors, texts oriented towards giving a student an... read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 5 see less

At our learning institution, the preponderance of our students select General Psychology in order to fulfill their general education requirement. Since most of our students are not psychology majors, texts oriented towards giving a student an adequate primer of the field are preferred. Hence, this text seems to be a good selection for this type of student. The author's approach to relevant topical areas is an overarching one. This text sufficiently covers the subfields in psychology, without bogging down the reader in the intricacies of our discipline. In particular, I appreciated this author's approach to human development, which tends to be a content heavy area. Additionally, the learning objectives at the beginning of the chapter give a clear roadmap to the reader. The content area named "key takeaways" give the reader a nice annotated summary of important topical areas. For professors who want to be more indulgent in the content, the author provides a section on "exercises and critical thinking." The questions posed appear to be sufficiently provocative and relevant.

Content Accuracy rating: 5

I find that the text content provides an accurate portrayal of the field. Topical areas are presented in an unbiased, factual manner; however, the exercises on critical thinking provide the student an opportunity to think more "contextually" about the information presented.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 4

There are topical areas in psychology that are ubiquitous to the field. For example, Freud's Personality Theory or Zimbardo's Social Psychological contributions. These theories form the bedrock of our disciple upon which new research is laid upon. For example, the emergence of Positive Psychology and Neuroscience have provided a new and fascinating lens through which we look at human behavior. To this extent, the text seems to present a conventional view of psychology with dash of 21st century psychology. There is a section dedicated to addressing "positive emotions," although it is limited. Additionally, the surgent topic of mindfulness practice is not covered nor the relevance of Neuroscience in our understanding the connection between the brain and human behavior.

Clarity rating: 5

The text is written with an adequate amount of clarity and directness. Frankly, I think the author does a superb job at addressing the heart of the theoretical matter. Also the demonstration videos provide further clarity on the content. The examples provided seem to be relevant and compelling. Further, the design of each chapter lends itself to clarity. The beginning of the chapter presents clear learning objectives, which serve as an expectational guide, and ends with a summary of key points to consider.

Consistency rating: 4

There are intra-correlations made within each chapter; however, there are few inter-connections made between different chapters. Within each chapter, there is consistency between the concept presented, its description, and the examples used to further elucidate its meaning. For those seeking to give a student a more holistic view of psychology, the text is limited. For example, if you are seeking to provide students a broader sense of how internal emotions and cognitions along with external social events interface, you will have to create your own addendum to the chapter content.

Modularity rating: 5

Each chapter covers a specific topical area in psychology that is later expanded upon in the chapter. The content areas are directly aligned with the learning objectives presented at the beginning of the chapter and flow into the key summary points very well. The chapter gives a sufficient amount of information to the reader to answer the critical thinking questions posed at the end of the chapter.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 5

The organization of the text is superb and consistent throughout the text. The author appears to have set up a predictable cadence to each chapter beginning with learning outcomes, chapter content, and ending with a synopsis of key points.

Interface rating: 5

The text does not appear to present issues related to interface. Navigation through the chapter is clear and direct. The examples and features are crisp and clear. There are no elements that may distract the reader from the topical area being covered. There is a high amount of congruency between the outcomes, the content, examples, exercises, and key points.

Grammatical Errors rating: 5

I do not see any significant grammatical errors in the text.

Cultural Relevance rating: 2

Although the text is not culturally offensive, it does lack cultural depth. Today's classrooms, comprised of students from various cultures, text material needs to appeal to a wider audience and challenge students to think more deeply about the broader social context. Overall, I would've liked to have seen more culturally relevant information in the chapters on Personality, Social Psychology, Psychological Research, and Psychological Disorders. For example, details about the cultural determinants of personality, the role of culture in prejudices and stereotyping, the ability of researchers to generalize their investigational results to culturally diverse populations, and how the cultural context needs to be accounted for in psychological disorders would have highlighted the all important role of diversity in our discipline.

Reviewed by Kathleen Cain, Professor of Psychology, Gettysburg College on 4/21/20

The book doesn't necessarily cover every conceivable topic in psychology, but it covers all of the main subfields in psychology and presents at least a few of the central findings, concepts, and theories in each subfield. In some respects, the... read more

The book doesn't necessarily cover every conceivable topic in psychology, but it covers all of the main subfields in psychology and presents at least a few of the central findings, concepts, and theories in each subfield. In some respects, the book strikes me as more focused and less sprawling than many introductory psychology textbooks. A student who reads this book may be less likely to be overwhelmed with information, but at the same would be able to grasp a clear sense of general issues, research issues, and research findings in each topic. According to the introduction, the author has focused intentionally on presenting topics in a way that leaves students with a sense of coherence about the field rather than with a set of random facts. The critical thinking questions at the end of the sections are helpful in addressing this focus.

The book was accurate and clear. I particularly liked the way that it described key research and illustrated research findings with graphs and other images. It definitely provides an accurate overview of the field.

I'm slightly concerned that the latest edition is from 2015, as psychology changes rapidly based on new research findings. However, the book certainly covers the classic studies very well. Sometimes we can be overly concerned with giving students the latest information when the reality is that they're lacking many of the basics - so my concern about the date of publication is not a deep one. Certainly 21st century psychology is represented effectively in the book, too, so it's not just a book on the history of psych by any means. However, I do hope that the author continues to update material included in the book.

The writing is clear both at the micro level of individual sentences and paragraphs and at the macro level of lucid organization. The writing style aims for a literate audience and in that sense may challenge students who need simpler prose and multiple real life examples to make concepts clear. Some of the mainstream publisher textbooks excel in examples that make the concepts come alive, and this book has less of those. There are also fewer helpful additions such as definitions of terms in the margins that one would see in other textbooks. However, each chapter in this book includes several compelling examples that are explained well, and the writing is crisp and clear, which I greatly appreciate. There is also a bit more depth than many books provide about psychological research, which I personally love about this book, but which may not work for every student audience. Some other textbooks are pitched at a simpler level - but these books can still let students get bogged down in the sheer volume of information, a problem that this book often avoids successfully. Finally, this book includes numerous video clips, which are a terrific addition and really strengthen the clarity of the information provided.

Each chapter is internally consistent in terminology and framework, and the book is organized consistently. I do wish that there were a bit more of an effort to link content in individual chapters with content in other chapters so that students can see some of the broader connections in what they're reading.

Each chapter covers one subfield of psychology (e.g, developmental, cognitive) and in turn is divided into several subsections of several pages each. One could easily rearrange or even drop a few chapters, and within a chapter, while one would want to go in order of concepts from basic at the beginning to more complex at the end, one could easily drop a subsection.

The organization is a significant positive feature of this book. The material is presented consistently in a clear and concise way, and topics flow logically from one to the next.

Interface rating: 4

I didn't have any major navigation problems, and the video links that I clicked worked well. A few figures didn't show up, though, and once in a while there was a blank or nearly blank page (not missing text, just a slightly awkward arrangement of the text with blank space in between).

I found a very small handful of typographical errors, but I didn't notice grammatical errors. In fact, the writing was quite strong.

I thought that cultural presentation was one of the weaker areas of this book. While there are some references to a variety of cultures and some photos of people from a variety of backgrounds, some of the written statements about culture were simplistic (e.g., on p. 26, a sentence reads, "Psychologists have found that there is a fundamental difference in social norms between Western cultures (including those in the United States, Canada, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand) and East Asian cultures (including those in China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, India, and Southeast Asia)." There is no mention of nuance, of common ground, or of the variability among individuals within cultures.). In the section on intelligence, the author mentions variation among US racial and ethnic groups in IQ scores, but offers only a superficial explanation of why these differences exist. There is no mention of the role that discrimination plays in perpetuating some of these differences. In the chapter on social psychology, the material on stereotyping and prejudice was accurate, but again presented with less depth than I would prefer. While I did not see offensive material, I thought the author could have done more to present cultural variation and various cultural issues with nuance and depth.

Reviewed by Colette Jacquot, Adjunct Professor, University of Texas at Arlington on 3/4/20

I was hoping I could adopt this textbook for my classes because I realize how expensive books are and the tremendous stress that this expense alone can place on my students. However, I would use only some of the content in this textbook as... read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 1 see less

I was hoping I could adopt this textbook for my classes because I realize how expensive books are and the tremendous stress that this expense alone can place on my students. However, I would use only some of the content in this textbook as supplementary material but would need to spend an inordinate amount of time supplementing it to cover major themes which my students need to master.

Content Accuracy rating: 1

From what I read, the textbook seems accurate as far as its content. However, it is inaccurate regarding representing an Introductory to Psychology textbook. The chapters discuss only a few topics instead of addressing a number of vital subjects that introductory psychology students need to master.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 1

First, the Social chapter tackles classic experiments well (e.g., Milgram, Asch, Zimbardo, Sherif) and social influence but fails to address other central topics, such as sexism, ageism, heterosexism, and others. Instead, this chapter discusses bystander effect which is a tangential topic at best. Learning is another insufficient topic that is touched on but it is across two chapters: direct and indirect learning. Moreover, instead of devoting an entire chapter to memory, the textbook discusses it at the end of the Indirect Learning chapter. Furthermore, the Cognition and Intelligence chapter covers how to teach a child shape and numbers and how prior learning (i.e., memory) can interfere with problem solving but that is all regarding cognition. As far as discussing therapy, there is a chapter titled, “The Science of Psychology and Human Potential” which addresses only a few therapeutic interventions: ABA, learned helplessness, CBT, relapse, and conduct disorder interventions.

Clarity rating: 2

The way that these chapters are organized seems arbitrary and therefore unclear. Again, in order for a textbook to be considered for adoption, it must not only be clear but also be thorough to cover all of the material needed for an introductory class.

Consistency rating: 3

The textbook fails to address major psychological issues that an introductory class needs to cover.

Modularity rating: 1

The smaller sections are insufficient. Not only are major themes left out of the book but also tangential topics are included (e.g., bystander effect instead of sexism, ageism, and other vital topics).

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 1

A more complete textbook including respected information that other Introduction textbooks cover should be created. Specifically, it is organized differently from any other psychology textbook I have seen. Instead of the typical chapters – Motivation, Learning, Cognition, Social, and others – the book parcels chapters into inadequate topics.

Interface rating: 2

I could not find the search option anywhere.

I did not see any grammatical errors.

By omitting major themes in psychology, the text is actually insensitive to some misunderstood groups, e.g., older adults, women, overweight people, and other underrepresented groups.

Perhaps it is a good starting point, but I suggest adding a significant amount of material that introductory psychology students need to learn.

Reviewed by David Foster, Professor, Open Oregon Educational Resources on 4/19/19

The text aligns well with APA standards for Introductory Psychology. The devil is in the details, however. I have reviewed a number of intro textbooks in developing the curriculum for a dual enrollment psychology course. I have found no one text... read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 4 see less

The text aligns well with APA standards for Introductory Psychology. The devil is in the details, however. I have reviewed a number of intro textbooks in developing the curriculum for a dual enrollment psychology course. I have found no one text that covers every possible aspect of the standards. That being said, this text provides materials covering the APA standards on a level commensurate with leading introductory texts. One constructive criticism would be to add a list of key terms for each section and/or chapter. Such lists are provided in other open source texts and seem very useful.

Content Accuracy rating: 4

The material seems to be accurately conveyed, again, on a level commensurate with leading intro textbooks.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 5

The text provided relevant info that corresponds to APA learning standards. Additionally, the open nature of the text automatically lends itself to easy updating and customization.

Clarity rating: 4

The text is written at a level that is accessible for introductory psychology students.

Consistency rating: 5

The book used a consistent approach in displaying the materials in separate submodules within each chapter and providing a chapter summary at the end.

I appreciate the modularization of text in to smaller, more accessible units.

The topics are presented in a clear and logical fashion. I especially appreciated the organization of the developmental chapter by increasing age rather than theorist.

Interface rating: 3

I reviewed the pdf version of the text. There were some display issues as some pictures and logos were a little blurred and therefore distracting. Additionally, this version of the text did not appear to be paginated correctly. At times, the figure heading would appear at the bottom of the page while the figure itself would be on the following page by itself (leaving 3/4's of the page blank)

Grammatical Errors rating: 4

I did not detect any grammatical errors. However, proofreading is not my strong suit.

Cultural Relevance rating: 5

The text appeared to be culturally appropriate.

Great value for the price!

Reviewed by Bridget Coddou, Instructor, Nicholls State University on 4/12/19

In my opinion, this book does an excellent job of covering all of the areas and ideas of the subject of Psychology. The index is appropriate, but I was not able to find the glossary. I like the depth of the information and how it is displayed. ... read more

In my opinion, this book does an excellent job of covering all of the areas and ideas of the subject of Psychology. The index is appropriate, but I was not able to find the glossary. I like the depth of the information and how it is displayed. I believe that the course should absolutely match the level of the students. As an Instructor that teaches both Intro and higher level Psychology courses, I think that it is imperative for us to be parallel with the students level of interest and strive to motivate them to learn. Too much information can become overwhelming for students as well as sway them away from the content. When teaching intro, I try very hard to teach my students the basic concepts as well as pose a "to be continued" mindset, in order to increase the likelihood that they will be eager to continue their education in Psychology courses. This book does just this.

Overall, the accuracy is error-free and unbiased based off of my observations. I do want to point out that in Chapter 12, when discussing the DSM, it is important that we continue to explain our classification system in terms of how it is used today. The author talks about the different Axis in the DSM due to this being a 2015 version of the text. This classification system no longer exists. It would be important for those teaching this material to be up-to-date and aware of the changes.

As stated above, the book does seem to be up-to-date except for Chapter 12 where they go into detail about the Axis system of the DSM. We are now in the DSM-V where we do not have an Axis classification system. This will be the one area that the author will need to keep up-to-date when discussing diagnoses.

This textbook does an excellent job in writing and is lucid. The language and picture examples make it very easy to read and understand. One advantage to moving to a digital textbook is that the student can use internet resources to connect the content. The videos that are included throughout the text are convenient. We like convivence when learning. It is one less step to that the student has to do; therefore, it increases the likelihood that the student will learn that particular concept.

There were no inconsistencies noted in this text.

I think that the Modularity of the text is appropriate; however, I do think that having some thumbnails to show the Chapters would be really nice for the student as well as the Instructor. It will make it easier to sort through the material if you have multiple Chapters on an exam.

I love the organization of this text. It is very easy to follow. Considering that I am a person that usually likes paper, I think that this digital text is attractive and organized. We want to make learning inviting and I really feel like this text does just this.

As stated above, this text is very clear and easy to understand. I think that the text could use more end of chapter questions/quizzes and I would like to see glossary words at the end of each particular chapter. I think that this helps the student organize and structure their ideas.

No grammatical errors were noted.

No note of any insensitive or offensive language/content in this text. In order to prevent such accusations, the author may want to include something the Introduction or Acknowledgements that a lot of the information provided is based off of research and findings in particular studies. I think that this is the rule not the exception when teaching Psychology. So many topics can and due become controversial, but if we preface these ideas at the outset of our discussions/writings, people tend to remain open-minded and accepting of new ideas.

Overall, I think that this textbook is absolutely appropriate for an Introductory course. I found it very easy to use which I believe is the absolute first step of engagement for students. I tell my students all of the time in Intro, I want to set the foundation for you in this course. I want them to see it as just that. Learning enough to understand the basic concepts and promoting interest in order to fuel the mind to explore Psychology more in-depth in subsequent courses.

Reviewed by Melissa Cannon, Assistant Professor, Western Oregon University on 3/6/19

The text seems fairly comprehensive in how it introduces the domains of psychology and roots them in empirical research. Several areas lack depth, which is understandable for an introductory text, but many also seem to lack cultural breadth and... read more

The text seems fairly comprehensive in how it introduces the domains of psychology and roots them in empirical research. Several areas lack depth, which is understandable for an introductory text, but many also seem to lack cultural breadth and could be strengthened by adding more contemporary perspectives. Taking “Growing and Developing” as an example, the author does not address the full bio-psycho-social nature of development across the life course, skips over middle childhood, and misses key theories such as Brofenbrenner’s ecological systems theory and Carstensen’s selectivity theory in later life. The Learning Objectives in each section help to prepare students for what they will be learning, and the Key Takeaways following each section help to summarize concepts, but I find that it is really helpful for students to have a glossary of terms as well which would then be indexed at the back of the book.

I did not find inaccuracies or errors, but some cultural bias (see below under “Cultural”) and issues with relevance of the information and ample citation. For example, on page 225, the paragraph introducing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease includes only a single citation, dated 1995. There are several examples where adding citations (especially more recent ones) would enhance the credibility of the author’s content (e.g., describing structuralism on page 16; ethics in section 2.1; neuroplasticity on page 88; stimulants in section 5.2; psychotherapy in section 13.4).

Some of the references are out of date (e.g., the references in section 6.5 are all from 10 years ago or earlier, with several from the 1990s). Videos that are accessed through hyperlinked text may have been taken down (e.g., the “Stepping Reflex” video on page 220).

The writing seems to be at an appropriate level and not too heavy in jargon/technical language for an introductory course. I felt that some of the text boxes dropped into the chapters were not contextualized sufficiently, however. For example, the “War of the Ghosts” example on page 23 is used to illustrate Bartlett’s research on the cognitive and social processes of remembering. The story itself is confusing, however, and inserting it into the text doesn’t seem to help accomplish the author’s goal. Also, in the beginning of Chapter 6, “The Repository for Germinal Choice” is used to present the classic “nature versus nurture” argument, but it seems like an odd choice given the problematic nature of the story itself: essentially, the efforts of an American millionaire to create a more superior human race. Using a critical lens, a student would be able to detect the outrageously unethical rationale for this millionaire’s “experiment,” but that point should be highlighted more clearly and it seems like a more appropriate example could have been used in the first place.

The text is fairly consistent in terms of organization and framework. I had a hard time understanding why some of the chapter summaries were not at the ends of the chapters (e.g., Chapters 4 and 7).

I appreciate the way that the text is broken into subsections and short paragraphs without feeling disconnected or choppy. The author did a very nice job with this.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 4

The first several chapters are presented in a logical fashion. My preference would be to have “Growing and Developing” follow Chapters 8-11, then be followed by the chapters on psychological disorders. Social cognition should also be presented earlier, perhaps after “Learning” and “Remembering and Judging.”

Depending on the format in which the book was downloaded, this book seems to have a relatively user-friendly interface. The Contents at the beginning are hyperlinked (e.g., in PDF and iBook formats), making it easy to navigate to different sections.

So far as I can tell, there are few (to no) grammatical errors.

The text relies heavily on dominant cultural perspectives and lacks emphasis on the diversity of human nature. It would be helpful to explain differences in race, ethnicity, and nationality (especially as the author uses categories such as “Jews” “East Asians” and “African Americans” for comparison) as well as differences in sex, gender, and sexual orientation, and to cite contemporary sources (e.g., a 1984 one was used on p. 371 to describe discrimination, and a 1994 one was used on p. 439 to explain sexual orientation). The author uses the outdated term “mentally retarded” or “retardation” (p. 367). They also use the binary gender schema (i.e., men versus women) and equate gender identity disorder with transsexualism without effectively explaining gender identity (i.e., transgender/non-binary gender identification are not discussed). They refer to LGBTQ individuals as “homosexuals” (p. 439) and apply a heteronormative lens in discussing sexuality. They also explain that eating disorders can lead people to be “too fat or too thin” (p. 436) which some may perceive as body shaming.

Overall, I found this to be a good text for introducing students to the vast, complex field of psychology. In the classroom I would draw attention to areas of the text that need updated/augmented and describe the most current research findings, adding cross-cultural and international perspectives. I would generally encourage students to use a critical lens while reading this text and to contribute their own personal insight/ideas particular with regard to issues such as culture, race, ethnicity, gender, age, and socioeconomic status.

Reviewed by Kristin Flora, Associate Professor of Psychology, Franklin College on 1/23/19

A few emerging areas of psychology, such as health psychology and I/O psychology are not represented. While I/O is not currently commonplace in other introductory texts, Stress and Health typically warrants a chapter. Stress is included in the... read more

A few emerging areas of psychology, such as health psychology and I/O psychology are not represented. While I/O is not currently commonplace in other introductory texts, Stress and Health typically warrants a chapter. Stress is included in the chapter on Emotion and Motivation, which perhaps negates the need for a separate chapter (since stress is a major component of health psychology). Additionally, there is little mention of Vygotsky in Chapter 6. If that is important to an instructor, s/he will need to augment. Finally, there does seem to be a lot of attention paid to PTSD; it is significantly discussed in 3-4 chapters. This is not necessarily a critical comment, but something that stood out in my review of the text.

Content Accuracy rating: 3

In the spirit of simplification and parsimony, the author omits some information that better shows the complexity and nuance of some of the phenomenon. For example, when discussing REM there is no mention of muscle paralysis that accompanies this stage of sleep. Or when explaining Ainsworth’s Strange Situation, the author states there are 4 attachment styles. While there are, only 3 of them came from Ainsworth’s initial research. Disorganized was identified later. More critically, it is evident that this edition has not been updated to reflect changes in the DSM. When moving from DSM-IV to DSM-V the Axes system was eliminated yet the text still spends ample time explaining this old diagnostic system. Relatedly, in Chapter 10 when eating disorders are explained only Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa are presented; Binge Eating Disorder is now a recognized eating disorder. There are multiple other examples that would require the instructor to update this information so that the students are learning the most accurate material.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 3

At various places in the text the references seem outdated (e.g. Chapter 3 where most stem from the 1990s). A more egregious example is in Chapter 11 where the author cites a study from 1928 when describing the stability of personality in children. Certainly this could be effectively used from a historical perspective, but the contextual language does not suggest that is the intent of using this article. In Chapter 13, the pie chart depicting the proportion of types of therapy practiced is from 2001, making it nearly 20 years old. Finally, some more contemporary issues such as e-cigarettes and binge drinking could be incorporated in Chapter 5, along with recent legislative changes regarding recreational marijuana

Overall I think the language is clear and straightforward, with a few exceptions. For example, Chapter 4 explains how the trichromatic theory and opponent-process theory of color vision are correct, but the author could elaborate by explaining what part of the visual process each theory best explains. Additionally, some of the information in tables or figures could be better expressed. Two examples would be Marcia’s theory of identity in Chapter 6 which is presented as a table but would work better as a matrix and Figure 3.11 which demonstrates that bodily regions that require greater motor control are afforded more space on the motor cortex. The homunculus would be a better visual.

In the author’s preface there is note that each chapter begins with an ‘attention grabbing story’ yet I didn’t see one for Chapter 2. Additionally, the inclusion of video clips and other ancillary material varies across chapters, with some having a lot of embedded resources while others have relatively few.

The sections seem appropriate in length to serve as standalone ‘units’. I very much appreciate the key takeaways and critical thinking questions found at the end of each section instead of the end of the chapter. This eases the use of this text by instructors.

This text follows the general format of most introductory texts, with the exception of ending with social psychology instead of disorders and treatment. Otherwise, there were a few spots within chapters – specifically chapters 4 and 6 – where some of the information seems a bit disjointed or out of order.

Some of the images seem a bit odd with respect to formatting (small, offset to the left, leaving a lot of white space to the right). Unsure if this is a pedagogical tool to allow those students who print the chapters room to annotate or if it was just a stylistic decision by the editorial team? When images aren’t small and left justified, they are very large images of prominent psychologists which I’m not sure are helpful or necessary (size, not overall inclusion). The tables are drab: black and white, small font. Students may very well skip over them.

As noted earlier, the text is very well written. The only grammar error I noted was that when discussing the work of the Harlows that the author notes they were affiliated with Wisconsin University rather than the University of Wisconsin.

Cultural Relevance rating: 3

I certainly didn’t find evidence of offensive language, but also thought there weren’t intentional attempts to integrate cross-cultural research. A specific example of this is when referencing the Muller-Lyre illusion noting the finding that cultures that utilize different housing structures that don’t use 90 degree angles are less likely to be susceptible to this illusion (carpentered world hypothesis) Or in Chapter 5 when discussing cocaine to note that some indigenous tribes chew on the leaves of the coca plant to maintain alertness. I think there is opportunity for the author to point out cultural differences in the presence of some of the more common psychological disorders. For instance, depression often manifests as more somatic symptoms in Asian cultures rather than sadness and despair that we tend to see in Western cultures.

Overall the key concepts are present. In its current format, instructors could augment areas that are weaker and/or pull in more contemporary examples. The greatest weaknesses are the outdated information re: psychological disorders and diagnosis and a relatively light integration of cultural differences. Graphics could be enhanced to be more engaging for students, but the text itself is well-written.

Reviewed by Dr.Aradhana Mehta, Adjunct Faculty, Rhode Island College, Providence, RI on 6/19/18

This book cover most of the topics for the introduction to Psychology course. though the topic of stress, Coping and Health Psychology. The text and easy to understand and presented in a great manner. There are 14 chapters in total giving a... read more

This book cover most of the topics for the introduction to Psychology course. though the topic of stress, Coping and Health Psychology. The text and easy to understand and presented in a great manner. There are 14 chapters in total giving a complete understanding of the introductory course for psychology.

I found this open Library Textbook to be accurate, error free apart from a few topics like Stress and Coping. Some of the terms used in chapter 12 and 13 are not in use in this present age. They can improvise some examples from Cross culture as well.

The content is good and up-to-date. As mentioned earlier a few terms need to be changed in Chapter 12 & 13 to the new terms used in DSM V. In addition they can enhance the interactive learning process of the student by adding some videos and quizzes to the book.

The content is very well written and have clarity. It present the theoretical and the applied perspective very clearly.

It maintains the consistency and the flow throughout the book.

Modularity rating: 4

Each chapter is broken into several different sections in a very simple and understandable manner. All the subtopics are well connected.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 3

Organization of the text is good. Though the topic of emotions and stress can be separate. As the topic of health and stress is very important in interesting for the young population. The content table should be there in the beginning of each chapter to give the clarity to the students what the chapter will be covering.

There are some graphs and visual aids in the book. Though I will recommend the addition of a few videos and quizzes to promote the interactive learning for the students.

Grammar of the book is great.

Author was very careful and sensitive about the cultural relevance. Additions of some more cross cultural videos/example will enhance the over all perspective of these topics through the world.

Over all it seems adequate and cover most of the topics for the college level course. In addition to the content if some more cross cultural example, videos and interactive quizzes are added to it, this text book will be great for a college level course. Though most of the examples int he text are based on the american culture.

Reviewed by Troy Ertelt, Instructor, Lake Superior College on 5/21/18

Provides comprehensive coverage read more

Provides comprehensive coverage

Content was error-free and without clear bias.

Content was relevant and appropriately updated. Text should be usable for a long period of time.

At times the tone was very academic and might limit accessibility for undergraduate non-majors, but overall, clearly written.

No problems with consistency were noted.

It seemed an instructor could pick the most important sections and exclude those that were less relevant without any problems.

Standard but appropriate organization and structure

The only drawback is the relatively limited number of photos, illustrations, tables, charts, and graphs.

No concerns

No offensive or insensitive content. Clear attempts at inclusion.

Reviewed by Kendra Miller, Psychology Instructor, Anoka-Ramsey Community College on 6/20/17

I compared this textbook with the textbook I currently use, "Discovering Psychology, 7th edition," by Hockenbury, Nolan, and Hockenbury. The textbook I currently use has only 14 chapters and two Appendices. I have seen textbooks with more... read more

I compared this textbook with the textbook I currently use, "Discovering Psychology, 7th edition," by Hockenbury, Nolan, and Hockenbury. The textbook I currently use has only 14 chapters and two Appendices. I have seen textbooks with more chapters that may perhaps also be more comprehensive, but may also be overwhelming to get through in a traditional 16 week course. Therefore, I prefer the more brief or concise versions of introductory textbooks. I think this textbook is comparable in comprehensiveness to the textbook I currently use, with one major exception: "Introduction to Psychology has no separate chapter on "Stress, Health, and Coping." Although this topic is addressed in Chapter 8 with "emotion," my preference would be to have an entirely separate chapter devoted to stress (especially since combining motivation and emotion into one chapter is already a lot of material). Here are a few of my thoughts on the comprehensiveness of each chapter:

Chapter 1: Missing from the "Schools of Psychology" table: Biological, Humanistic, Positive Psychology, and Evolutionary Psychology. The text I currently use discusses Structuralism and Functionalism within the section on the history of psychology, but separates out the "origins of psychology" (where Structuralism and Functionalism are discussed) from "contemporary psychology." Also, although I realize that it would be impossible to include everyone, I feel like there are too many important psychologists missing from the timeline, and the timeline should add in what some of the early theorists did. I do like how Chapters 1 and 2 give separate attention to the history of psychology and the scientific method (my current textbook combines the two). I like how this chapter differentiates between values and facts, and discusses the potential limitations of way we collect and interpret data to understand behavior in our everyday lives.

Chapter 2: I would like to see a little more focus on critical thinking in this chapter, though it is briefly discussed. I would also add in why it's necessary to replicate research, and how a journal article is different than other reports of studies seen in the media. I think the table that lists the conceptual variable and the operational definition would be very useful to students.

Chapter 3: I didn't see norepinehrine discussed. Plasticity is discussed, but would also like to see separate definitions of functional and structural plasticity. I also did not see Broca's and Wernicke's areas discussed.

Chapter 4: I did not see a definition of "transduction." Also missing are the monocular cues of texture gradient and motion parallax, as well as any discussion on bottom-up vs. top-down processing. The "carpentered world hypothesis" could be included discussion of the effects of experience on perceptual interpretations.

Chapter 5: Needs some attention to research on multi-tasking. A table with examples of circadian rhythms throughout the day would be helpful. Some concepts are discussed but terminology related to those concepts are not mentioned, such as sleep paralysis, hypnagogic hallucinations, and myoclonic jerk. Sleep-related eating disorder was also not covered. I enjoyed the information provided on the "need to escape everyday consciousness." Very interesting.

Chapter 6: I would like to see some discussion on genotype vs. phenotype and epigenetics. I also didn't see research on types of temperament or theories of gender development presented.

Chapter 7: Some concepts were discussed without the associated terminology (such as "biological preparedness" and the "overjustification effect"). I would also like to see discussion on "learned helplessness."

Chapter 8: The "semantic network model" was discussed somewhat but not labeled as such.

Chapter 9: "Thinking" was not included in this chapter (as it is in the textbook I currently use), and was addressed somewhat instead in the previous chapter, though not in a comprehensive way. I prefer "thinking" to be addressed in the same chapter as intelligence and language.

Chapter 10: I did not see theories of motivation, such as instinct, drive, incentive, arousal, humanistic theories) discussed.

Chapter 11: This chapter was about as comprehensive as it is in the textbook I currently use.

Chapter 12 and some of 13: Needs to be updated to align with the newest edition of the DSM.

Chapter 14: Sufficiently comprehensive.

There was no chapter or appendix covering Industrial/Organizational Psychology.

I found this textbook to be accurate in comparison with the information provided in the textbook I currently use, aside from the need to update the information in Chapter 12 to reflect changes to the DSM.

For the most part, up-to-date (aside from Chapter 12), but a few more relevant examples would catch the attention of students (especially related to media use).

I liked the exercises/critical thinking questions found at the end of the sections. This gives students an opportunity to find ways to make the material relevant to their own lives with personal examples.

I think that concepts were adequately defined and found the textbook easy to read.

The textbook has no consistency issues that I could find.

I found the modularity to be adequate.

For the most part, the organization/structure/flow of this text was good. I only have a few minor recommendations. Within Chapter 3, I feel like the material about how the brain is studied could be placed at the beginning of the chapter; where it is placed seems to disrupt the flow of the chapter, in my opinion. In Chapter 10, I would like to see evidence for the facial feedback hypothesis tied in with the James-Lange theory.

Most of the links to the videos provided within each chapter did not work. I love the use of videos to illustrate course material. However, links seem to change so quickly on the internet that this is a significant issue.

I would recommend adding in a banner above each chapter number for visual interest.

I did not find any grammatical errors.

I feel this is an area that could be expanded, as there seemed to be very few examples that provided a cross-cultural perspective.

Overall, I think the scope of this text was adequate for an introduction to psychology course, though I'm not sure how much updating has occurred since it was distributed in 2010. I would recommend updating the links to the videos within the material and updating Chapter 12 to align with the changes in the new DSM. I would also like to see supplements (PowerPoints and test bank) created for this textbook.

Reviewed by Michelle Shelton, Assistant Professor, George Fox University on 4/11/17

This book provides the content and information that many general psychology textbooks do. In comparing it with three other general psychology textbooks I have used over the years, it is equal to all of them in terms of the topics covered and the... read more

This book provides the content and information that many general psychology textbooks do. In comparing it with three other general psychology textbooks I have used over the years, it is equal to all of them in terms of the topics covered and the level of comprehensiveness.

The content appears to be accurate and error-free. There is a slight bias, as there is with most textbooks, but it in no way clouds the content or the information.

In terms of relevance, the author does a good job with providing information, resources, and citations for the pioneering works in the field. With any general psychology textbook there is a large emphasis on the historical context of the field, theorists, physiology, and behavior. I found the sections on the brain to include some of these seminal works, but very little current information and research on this important structure.

The book's clarity is strong and well-designed. It is very reader-friendly and easy to navigate. The structure of each section lends itself to a good dialogue of the material. The opening story of each chapter is an excellent way to engage students in the material in a very practical sense.

The book is consistent in both terminology and framework. The key terms are highlighted for ease of use, and the figures and tables are labeled and placed in appropriate areas of the text.

I enjoyed the chapters being broken down into different, distinct sections. While I assigned the entire chapter as reading, I planned my activities and assignments to include a graded item from each of the sections. By doing this I knew students were engaged in each of the sections, and for my planning as a professor, it worked very well.

As previously mentioned, the book is well organized, easy to use, and has a great flow to it.

For the most part the interface had no glaring issues. My only criticism of the interface was that there were no page numbers within the body of the book. When I open the book on my laptop, there are no page numbers listed even in the table of contents. When I open the text on my iPad there are numbers for the start of each chapter, but not on the individual page. This made it very difficult to help students navigate to a certain page for information. I also had student complaints about not having page numbers when needed for a citation.

If there were grammatical errors in the book they did not stand out.

Cultural Relevance rating: 4

There was not a strong emphasis on cultural relevance. On a positive note there were no issues with cultural insensitivity either. General psychology textbooks tend to be a bit culturally neutral, however there could be added cultural implications to the topics.

Overall this textbook is of the same caliber that most general psychology textbooks are, but it has the significant advantage of being free to the end user.

Reviewed by Troy Pilgrim, Adjunct Instructor, Rogue Community College on 4/11/17

The text covers many key components typically found in an introduction of psychology class. read more

The text covers many key components typically found in an introduction of psychology class.

Content is in keeping with the cannon. I observed no errors.

Content is in keeping with the traditional approach to introducing psychology to community college or undergraduate students. The format of the text allows for an introduction to a variety of domains covered in the field of psychology.

The text is written is such a manner as to reflect college-level expectations. Though it can be dry reading at times (as with most texts), it is far from boring.

This text is not only consistent, but it's progression of subjects easily build upon each other.

The text is easily divisible into sections conducive for a trimester system.

The topics provide a nice overview of the many facets of psychology and easily build on each other.

Navigation is straightforward. The images provided are relevant and are not obtrusive.

I observed no glaring grammatical issues.

I observed no areas of concern in this domain.

Reviewed by Vanessa Washington, Adjuct Instructor , Concordia University, Portland on 2/15/17

This textbook covers a large range of subjects within the field of psychology; however, some chapters were shortened and brief in their coverage, while others were thorough and extensive in depth of material. Some aspects of the material did not... read more

This textbook covers a large range of subjects within the field of psychology; however, some chapters were shortened and brief in their coverage, while others were thorough and extensive in depth of material. Some aspects of the material did not include most recent research and changes in our fields understanding (for example, the discussion around emotion, arousal and the fight/flight system did not include an introduction to trauma or how the growing body of research shows consistently the impact of early trauma on physical/biological and emotional/mental development). The questions for critical thinking facilitated active learning of what was discussed in the chapter. The progression of chapters followed a logical order from a learning and instructing point of view

The content presented and discussed was accurate; however, certain topics were much more skim in the information provided; this could be resolved through accessing additional learning materials. As a learner in an introductory course, the errors detected would likely go unnoticed. As an instructor and with more comprehensive understanding, the errors were minimally noticeable; nothing observed was falsely reported, simply lacking as comprehensive discussion as possible. The coverage on drugs and addiction was inclusive of updated research that goes against our prior understanding of the impacts of illicit drugs; I was happy to read this inclusion. The prenatal development section briefly covered environmental contributions to birth defects and harmful developmental impacts, including only a sentence or two on the damage of various substances. The discussion around whether our actions are largely due to nature or nurture did not include material around various theories of heritability, leaving the discussion to sound largely based from a personal perspective. The chapter discussing intelligence appeared slightly biased; while reviewing the differences in intelligence between men and women and different races, there was more heavy material presented to support these differences in IQ being partially based in genetics, without a discussion around how social norms and environmental factors also come into play when looking at the findings around differences between social groups and intelligence. Information around the fight or flight system and the brain processes involved in responding to threats was minimal and insufficient, again discussing differences between men and women in their biological arousal response systems, and without addressing the growing body of knowledge around activation of these processes.

Much of the information included in an introductory course is historical, and therefore relevance and longevity should not be a concern. The critical thinking questions and the boxes with real life examples are great in that they reflect updated culturally relevant examples in terms of topics, current themes around the United States political, cultural (etc) climate; however, as culture and times changes, these would be easily adaptable/changeable

This text was very clear and engaging. The layout was inviting, the use of font adjustments (italics, bold face, etc) supported focused learning and signaled when definitions/jargon were given/explored. Each chapter section starts with clear objectives for the reader, and key takeaways, followed by critical thinking questions. Each chapter concludes with a summary of key concepts covered.

The book is written in an engaging manner; difficult concepts are balanced with engaging examples from lived experience. Discussion questions are written to invoke thoughtful responses and personal engagement with the material. Even chapters that may be more challenging for students (research and statistics) are written and therefore read with ease and discussed with engaging and relevant examples.

The chapter lengths were really remarkable for what was covered; they were chunked out in a manner that were short to read and that encouraged engagement with the text. I was shocked at the depth of material and the quality of engagement for also having short and brief chapters - this I think will go a long way with students who are just being introduced to the field of psychology. There were links provided throughout the text; however, I was unsuccessful in getting these links to work and so I cannot report on the usefulness or appropriateness of these learning supplements.

Chapters followed a logical progression of material and each chapter included engaging examples and prompts for future learning or current critical engagement with the material. It was easy to read, easy to follow, and easy to move between chapters. Each chapter provided useful materials in terms of definitions and clarity in previously discussed material

Display features were clear and useful. Links however, were not working for me regardless of how I tried to open them. I was excited to see the option of having youtube videos, examples of personality tests, etc; however, ultimately they were not accessible for use. I was able to highlight the text; however, in the format I was using, I was unable to highlight multiple sections; once I tried, my previous highlighted portion was removed.

This was very well written; there were no grammatical errors that I observed.

Culture in terms of inclusiveness was absent; there was not much included in terms of information that may vary between cultures. When there was discussion of differences between groups of people in regard to race, sex and gender, these differences were named and yet poorly explored; therefore, readers lost opportunities to engage the material with a global view, and potentially could have formed biased or incomplete information about various groups.

Reviewed by Dr. Natikca Robinson, Associate Professor, J Sargeant Reynolds Community College on 2/8/17

This book covers all the chapters needed to give students an understanding of psychology. The chapters are of adequate length and relates to life situations. The concepts in each chapter are explained in a way which is easier for students to... read more

This book covers all the chapters needed to give students an understanding of psychology. The chapters are of adequate length and relates to life situations. The concepts in each chapter are explained in a way which is easier for students to understand.

In this area, the book is very accurate. The content does not differ from introductory concepts in psychology.

In this area, the book is very relevant and will have longevity. The way the text is written, new information can be added with ease. Through the short chapters, there is room to expand the chapters and display the relevance of each chapter to daily life.

The book uses psychology jargon correctly and in a way in which students can gain understanding.

The consistency in this textbook is awesome. The text and concepts flow throughout each chapter.

Through the use of shorter chapters, concepts can be easily explained. Class discussions can easily be formed.

The chapters are broken down in a fashion which are easy to read and create lectures. One chapter is broken down into elements which connect to one another. There aren't any gaps in the information that is being presented.

The textbook meets this element very well. No interface issues. The images were accurate and pertained to the chapters.

The textbook did not have any grammatical errors.

The textbook incorporated various elements of cultural relevance. The examples provided enhanced the chapters.

Reviewed by Mary Ann Woodman, Adjunct Professor, Rogue Community College on 8/21/16

Text covers all the areas of Psychology for an introductory course except for Health Psychology. This is always the first chapter I teach so that students can begin to practice a more healthy lifestyle and learn how to manage stress and anxiety. ... read more

Text covers all the areas of Psychology for an introductory course except for Health Psychology. This is always the first chapter I teach so that students can begin to practice a more healthy lifestyle and learn how to manage stress and anxiety. The glossary, index, table of contents are great. I especially like the chapter openers with real world examples, key takeaways, the applications for everyday life and the empirical research examples. The text is easy to read, has relevant visuals and easy comprehension for community college level. I appreciate the references and occasional video clips. The learning objectives and summaries are concise and valuable.

Most of the content seems accurate. The chapter on Psychological Disorders needs to be upgraded to reflect the DSM V. Such terms as "mental retardation," "hypochondriasis" and "pain disorder" for example are no longer used. Autism spectrum disorder needs updating as well. The statistics graph is taken from 2001-3 and not from 2015-16. The statement that "Most Psychologists go into research" does not seem accurate. Students are exploring their career options in the fields of Social Science. The statement that "emotional IQ texts are unreliable" in summary of chapter 9 also does not seem accurate, unless unreliability is defined and also applied to intelligence IQ tests.

This text is written and designed well in a format that would be easy to implement updates. I would include more female psychologists and their work. It is missing cultural diversity. I would also add some of the new movements in Psychology, such as Positive Psychology, Epigenetics, Neurogenesis, Cultural Psychology, Energy Psychology, Health Psychology and alternative treatments in Naturopathic Medicine for healing illness. The book could use more examples that are related to young people and their daily life. I appreciate the section in chapter 6 on Parenting as an example. The section on nature/nurture, free will/determinism, consciousness/unconsciousness, offers an opportunity to introduce students to a both/and as well as a paradoxical mindset rather than an either/or viewpoint.

The text is well written and in language that student's can easily understand. Technical terms are explained well and references related to content. The book does not seem overwelming which many college textbooks seem to be. Based on the amount of time given to teach an Introductory course, this book has some advantages.

Consistency and framework of the text are great. Terminology well defined and used in a consistent fashion Author's dual theme of behavior and empiricism flows well throughout his work. Structure of presenting each topic is the same in each chapter.

The sub units in the textbook make it easy to teach and to break into lesson plans. There is a smooth flow to the subject matter. It would be helpful to have a section bridging one subject to the next so that students could see the interface and relationship of each topic; very little disruption moving from one topic to the next. In some places, the font seems a bit small.

Organization, structure and topical format seems very logical and clear. Text is missing a chapter on Health and Stress Management which highly relevant to the life of a college student.

The textbook includes graphs and visuals that are appealing and easy to study. History of Psychology section has a great chart. Like the videos spotted throughout the text. I would include a chart on the various careers in Psychology since young people are exploring job options.

I could not find any grammar or spelling errors.

The author appears to be careful about cultural sensitivity. However, it lacks examples, case studies research and critical thinking exercises that would bring forth more cultural education for the reader. Young people are growing up with global consciousness and curiosity about ethnic and cultural diversity. Important to include Native American perspectives also. Some excellent video clips from around the world that pertain to every subject studied in an introductory Psychology course.

I appreciate this textbook and would consider using it at the community college level. All of the sections have clear content, great graphs and visuals, and stories pertinent to the subject matter. I would include a section on lucid dreaming in chapter 5 on consciousness. I would also include some of the research on the evolution and phenomenology of consciousness separate from the brain. Student's are fascinated by these topics and it is very relevant to their developmental processes. Integrating practices in Positive Psychology, such as meditation, mindfulness and references to this field of study would be very valuable. Kohlberg's work on Moral Development and Bronfenbrenner's Model could also be included in the chapter on developmental Psychology.

Reviewed by Beth Dietz, Professor, Miami University on 8/21/16

The book covers in great detail all of the chapters that would appear in a typical introduction to psychology textbook, with the exception of a chapter on stress and coping. The book starts with an introductory chapter that includes the... read more

The book covers in great detail all of the chapters that would appear in a typical introduction to psychology textbook, with the exception of a chapter on stress and coping. The book starts with an introductory chapter that includes the definition of psychology, as well as an interestingly-written history of psychology. I appreciate that the author devotes an entire chapter (chapter two) to psychology as a science/ research methodology. The remaining 12 chapters cover psychology in the same order I do in my course – from the level of the cell (Brains, Bodies, and Behavior) to the social world (Psychology in Our Social Lives). So, with the exception of a chapter on stress and coping (which I cover in my course) the breadth of coverage is excellent, with all of the typical and expected chapters. But the depth of coverage is also excellent. Each chapter is deceivingly dense with material. Breaking each chapter into smaller “modules” and topics makes the chapters seem shorter than they actually are. In fact, I cannot say enough about the book’s organization. Each chapter consists of four to five logically-flowing sections, which, among other things, makes this textbook available as a “brief” version for those interested in less coverage.

Pedagogically, the text uses some learning aids, including a list of learning objectives at the outset of each section, visual aids, including embedded videos, chapter summaries, and “Exercises and Critical Thinking” activities at the end of each section. While not entirely comprehensive, these learning aids help to support some learning goals of an introductory course.

If accuracy is defined as being free of errors in reporting, then, overall, the coverage of material in the text is accurate. There were no obvious errors that were detected. If accuracy is defined as the absence of bias, there is nothing that would likely be glaring to the typical undergraduate reading the text. The author approaches introduction to psychology from a scientific perspective, which is evident in the coverage of research (both breadth and depth). Because I teach the course from the same perspective, I appreciate this position. The author did a good job of including timely and important research.

The textbook is quite research-oriented. At an undergraduate level, a strong focus on research can be intimidating and at times, confusing and frustrating. The author balanced the amount of research, the type of research, and examples very well. The amount of coverage is appropriate for an introductory textbook. The research and examples are relevant for undergraduates taking an introductory course. It is noteworthy that the author did not shy away from including and explaining complex experimental research. The author did an excellent job of breaking down the pieces and including the relevant parts. With regard to longevity, this text could have used for several years without needing updates, but it was published six years ago and is in need of inclusion of more recent research and examples.

The book’s strength is the clarity of the writing. The author uses language and jargon that is accessible to most undergraduates. For key terms, it might be helpful to have an index or a glossary for each chapter. Each chapter starts with an example, which helps to provide relevant context for students. The author then lays the groundwork and builds upon it as the chapter unfolds. The use of excellent examples also helps to provide the context.

The book is consistent in its content, organization, and style of writing. Each chapter begins with an example that is likely to be relatable to most readers. Subsequent sections begin with student learning outcomes, which should also help to frame the material for students. The chapter summaries are also consistent from chapter to chapter.

One of the strengths of the text is its modularity. Each chapter is broken into several different sections, which could probably stand on their own (ie., an instructor could assign sections of a chapter, rather than the entire chapter). One advantage of modularity is that is allows for a customized text, where an instructor could pull various sections of the text to create a customized textbook for students. A disadvantage of modularity is that flow and connectedness is compromised. By design, this text is very modular and, although topics can build on one another, there is an intentional lack of connection between chapters. Of course, this necessary shortcoming can be resolved by instructor intervention.

The organization and flow of the text is good, with the already-noted issue of the modularity compromising the connection between chapters. The text is organized in a logical fashion, starting with analysis of behavior at the level of the cell and moving up to the final chapter, which is an analysis of behavior from a social perspective. Within each chapter, the structure and flow is also good. Each chapter/section starts with learning objectives and ends with critical thinking exercises. There are enough visuals and video links in each chapter to break up the narrative portions and reinforce the content.

I read the text as a pdf and did not attempt to download or read it on an iPad or Kindle, for example; nor did I print it. The translation of the text and visuals was good. The visuals showed up well in a pdf and the video links worked well. The bookmark feature in the pdf was also helpful and made it easy to move from section to section. A missing piece was the ability to mark up the text, takes notes, highlight, and save the place where I finished reading. These issues might be resolved if I had downloaded it to an iPad or e-reader. Because other ebooks have these features, I think students will miss this and be potentially disadvantaged.

The book is written very well. I did not notice any grammatical errors. I think I found a few typos, but nothing that disrupted or compromised the integrity of the text.

A focus on culture is not a strength of the text. While there were mentions of culture in some chapters, it was not included in every chapter despite the availability of the research. Even though the text is a bit outdated (2010), there are ample opportunities to include culture and diversity.

Reviewed by Mike Mensink, Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Stout on 8/21/16

Two versions of this text were compared across formats, the open source 1.0 http://open.lib.umn.edu/intropsyc/ version as well as the updated 2.1 version, located at... read more

Two versions of this text were compared across formats, the open source 1.0 http://open.lib.umn.edu/intropsyc/ version as well as the updated 2.1 version, located at http://catalog.flatworldknowledge.com/catalog/editions/stangor_2_1-introduction-to-psychology-2-1 . As a competitor comparison, I referenced the introductory text our institution currently uses (Myers & DeWall, 2015). For those who are curious, the unattributed author is Dr. Charles Stangor, who prefaces the textbook by stating that the focus of Introduction to Psychology is on behavior and empiricism. This emphasis is further supported with chapter openers that focus specifically on real-world examples in applied domains, as well as additional exercises and critical thinking activities for readers. Generally, this text compared favorably in terms of comprehensiveness to other introduction to Psychology textbooks. Research methods, biological psychology, neuroscience, sensation and perception, consciousness, human development, learning, memory, intelligence, language, emotion, motivation, social process, personality, and psychological disorders are all represented. The represented areas of psychology all align with other introductory texts (e.g., Myers & DeWall, 2015). I did not note any major areas of psychology missing; however some other users have suggested that the social processes chapter may be more appropriate as the final chapter in the text. A test-bank, instructor manual, and lecture slides are also available with version 2.0, however I did not see these materials available with version 1.0. A table of contents is available, as is a marginal glossary for each chapter.

I did not encounter any glaring accuracy errors in theoretical or research content. As with any introductory psychological textbook, the author typically demonstrates the greatest conceptual accuracy and strength in their own content area (social psychology, in this instance). In other areas (for example, cognitive processes), I found some issues with how certain aspects were described, however these are better related to clarity than accuracy (see below).

In terms of content relevance, the author provided adequate citations of seminal studies that one would expect in an introductory textbook. I also appreciated the applications to everyday life that appeared at the end of each chapter, which also contained many recent studies to help students better understand cutting-edge work in the field.

Clarity rating: 3

I generally found the writing clarity to be adequate, although there were some areas that either didn’t flow as well as other introductory texts or contained a basic explanation I did not find effective. For example, as a cognitive psychologist, there were some concepts within the learning and memory chapters that I would generally explain differently to students to increase clarity. Specifically, I would suggest a cleaner distinction between cognitive processes and memory storage areas; and a better explanation of the important differences between working memory and short-term memory. Due to the nature of publication in this source, replacements of the author’s name with ‘unnamed author’ and publisher with ‘unnamed publisher’ cause some breaks in coherence for the reader.

Each chapter contains the same organization and layout: A real-world showcase of the chapter content, an application in the chapter of applications to real world problems, and a focus on empirical research studies.

Generally, later chapters that build on understanding psychological research methods can be replaced or reorganized as seen fit by the instructor. However Chapters 1-3 are better left in their original order so students can build on basic descriptions of psychological science, research methods, and biological origins of behavior. As noted earlier, some users have reported a preference for moving Chapter 11: Psychology in Our Social Lives to the end of an instructional sequence.

Chapter organization is well replicated across the textbook and appears in a similar sequence as other introductory texts. Content generally builds upon less complicated content to more complex theories and findings. As noted by the author, this text is somewhat shorter than other introductory texts, which may be of interest to instructors.

The html version of 1.0 is basic in nature but generally well organized and easy to navigate. However there is no option for a full text search within the native html environment. Several reference links did not function, suggesting that this version may need updating (see the 2.1 version mentioned earlier).

While some sentences were awkward for introductory readers, I did not find any major grammatical issues.

Apart from specifically focused content on socio-cultural issues, the focus of this text is not on specific differences between cultures; but on differences of individuals across cultures. This is generally appropriate for an introductory psychology text.

Reviewed by Donna Weber, Senior Lecturer, University of Wisconsin-Stout on 1/7/16

The textbook included the topics and chapters that I expect to be included in a General Psychology course. My attempt was to see this textbook from the perspective of a college freshman. Some may be psychology majors, however most will not. ... read more

The textbook included the topics and chapters that I expect to be included in a General Psychology course. My attempt was to see this textbook from the perspective of a college freshman. Some may be psychology majors, however most will not. This may be the one chance for them to understand that psychology is important and to know the value of studying and appreciating human behavior. I think this text meets that goal.

The content appears to be accurate.

The dramatic examples given to make the points known, will be remembered for a long time. Time passes quickly and with the digital speed of changing, few things can remain relevant for long periods of time. The book seems to be organized in a fashion so that the content can be updated quite easily when needed.

The text is written and arranged in a user friendly manner so that a freshman could quite easily read and comprehend the material.

The consistency of the format and layout of the chapters allows the reader to know what to expect and thus provides a level of comfort going into a chapter that might otherwise be new and difficult for the reader.

The topics can be arranged or reordered if desired by the instructor.

The topics are arranged in an appropriate order. With the instructor bridging the topics, the precise order can be reordered to the preference of the teacher or needs of the students. The order can easily be changed to match a relevant current event, [local or world] that might call a topic to be in the spotlight.

The layout is impressive including: the introduction with the purpose of the chapter; the learning objectives; key words highlighted; charts; videos; key takeaways; experiences and critical thinking; everyday application examples; easy to locate reference citations at the point of topic; and the summary at the end of the chapter. These all add variety, excitement, interest, and repetition of the concepts to be learned.

Everything seems to be in order.

The diversity of culture is somewhat lacking.

I liked the textbook, had fun and enjoyed the review! I think students will like it.

Reviewed by Stephanie Judson, Visiting Assistant Professor, Cleveland State University on 1/12/15

The text covered most expected areas that would be in an introduction to psychology text, however there was no chapter devoted to the field of industrial/organizational psychology nor an introduction to essential statistical knowledge and less... read more

The text covered most expected areas that would be in an introduction to psychology text, however there was no chapter devoted to the field of industrial/organizational psychology nor an introduction to essential statistical knowledge and less depth regarding others topics (i.e., language and intelligence combined into one chapter). In-depth information for each topic was provided and each chapter included questions that would facilitate active learning.

Information provided was generally accurate however I took issue with the overuse of the word “psychologist” in a particular chapter in that the term was applied to non-psycholoigsts. The consistent reference to research and scientific literature was helpful and would allow students understand the importance of scientific inquiry in the field. I felt that more citations were needed throughout though, given the attempt of the author to reinforce the importance of scientific literature, particularly for highly charged information (i.e., racial differences in IQ, rates of sexual minorities in the US population). In particular, an unusually low statistic of LGBTQ individuals was provided at one point and it was unclear where this information was drawn from.

Text was published in 2010 and the most recent citations are from 2011. The text did discuss temporally relevant examples such as current TV shows which would likely draw students in. I also appreciated the helpful information about how to evaluate websites which is quite relevant given that students increasingly use and will use the internet to find information. However, this text references to outdated DSM and therefor much information (particularly related to the five axis system of diagnosis and that related to autism spectrum disorder) is outdated.

Text was written at an appropriate reading level of college students and avoided the overuse of technical jargon. The writing style and reading level of this text would be accessible to most first year college students.

The text was consistent in its presentation of information regarding formatting, depth, and use of real life and research related examples.

Text was broken up into easily readable sections. Also, chapters are an appropriate length and are broken into reasonable length modules.

The text was missing a table of contents and index (in the PDF version) which made it difficult to quickly review the flow of the book or where to find information. The broad based introductions to chapters were inviting and provided an easy way to ease into a new topic area. Information flowed logically regarding the order of the topics across chapters.

Sometimes key words were italicized and sometimes phrases were - text would have benefited from a consistent use of bolding to emphasize key terms. Some tables were somewhat lackluster whereas some were more engaging (i.e., different colors). Some figure headings were not close to the actual figure in the PDF version. Pictures would have made the text more engaging. There was also a missing figure at one point. There were references to video clips however it's unclear how to access them through the PDF version.

I found minimal grammar errors however, there were several typos (i.e., existence of unneeded text, missing spaces).

My largest critique of this text is in reference to the male and Euro-centric approach the material. This is seen through examples used and pictures (i.e., figures predominantly presented images of white, male bodies). There was very little discussion of the importance of oppression, discrimination, power, and privilege related to human behavior and research. There was little to no discussion of the historical impacts of psychologists of color or women psychologists. LGBTQ individuals were referred to as "homosexuals" which is outdated and offensive to many. This text would greatly benefit from more diversity in cultural examples and discussion of how human behavior is impacted by cultural identities.

Reviewed by Linda Lee, Assistant Professor, California Polytechnic State University on 7/15/14

I agree with other reviewers that while the book is concise and provides a good introduction to different domains of psychology the breadth and depth of discussion on certain topics (i.e. motivation) is lacking. I am a developmental psychologist... read more

I agree with other reviewers that while the book is concise and provides a good introduction to different domains of psychology the breadth and depth of discussion on certain topics (i.e. motivation) is lacking. I am a developmental psychologist in training and will therefore focus my comments on Chapter Six (Growing and Developing). In this chapter, the author provides a review of classic theories in developmental psychology (e.g. behaviorism, psychodynamic, Piaget's cognitive development) but fails to adress some of the more modern theories (e.g. Bronfenbrenner's bioecological model). The discussion of Vygtosky's sociohistorical theory also lacks depth. I feel that an inclusion of current criticisms (e.g. most pariticipants in developmental research are White) and progress in the field of development psychology (e.g. multidisciplinary in nature) helps to challenge students to go beyond the basic knowledge and think critically about issues in psychology.

The content is accurate and for the most part unbiased. However, as mentioned previously, the failure to include examples from a diverse cultural context and/or to use only examples from one particular cultural context can be misleading.

For the book to be relevant, examples must be up-to-date and meaningful to students. I find the many examples in this book interesting but from students' point of view, the examples may not be as appealing. For example, there are few examples of relevant issues such as the use of mobile devices or social media throughout the chapters. However, for instructors who adopt the book, I do see the updates relatively easy and straightforward to implement.

The written text is lucid and easy to understand. The flow from paragraph to paragraph is clear and intuitive.

The text is internally consistent.

The book is well organized and does not overwhelm the readers with enormous blocks of text. The key takeaways are useful for students to review important concepts in each section. The exercises and critical thinking are to some extent helpful to build on the concepts learned. I also like some of the opening vignette (e.g. the case of PTSD in Chapter 7). However, I also agree with other reviewers that the modularity lacks transition between chapters and can send the unintended message that the different disciplines in psychology are compartmentalized instead of intertwined.

The chapters are well organized. Depending on the discipline of the instructor who adopts the text, the order of the textbook can be moved around. The graphs, images, diagrams, and illustrations are helpful to clarify difficult concepts (e.g. IV and DV; assimilation vs. accommodation). Although the video clips are classics in any introduction to psychology courses and the inclusion of them a bonus, more recent video clips should be incorporated to improve the engagment of students.

Other than some minor inconsistencies in font size with printed PDF version of the text, the text is easy to navigate and features are helpful.

No grammatical errors.

The examples provided throughout the chapters are not culturally diverse and are therefore limited in their applicability. As previously mentioned, the introduction to Vygotsky's theory in Chapter Six (Growing and Developing) is brief and does not include a discussion on the cultural component of human development. The lack of emphasis on the cultural nature of human development is problematic especially in the United States when ethnic diversity is on the rise.

Reviewed by Jennifer Poole, Chair, Department of Psychology, Langara College on 10/9/13

In the author's preface, he states that the typical length of introductory psychology textbooks serves as a detriment to student learning. Consistent with his concern, his text is not as comprehensive as others I have used to teach introductory... read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 3 see less

In the author's preface, he states that the typical length of introductory psychology textbooks serves as a detriment to student learning. Consistent with his concern, his text is not as comprehensive as others I have used to teach introductory psychology. Whereas a typical text in this area might include 16 to 18 chapters, his text has only 14 – specifically, it is missing a separate chapter on Stress, Health, and Coping (stress receives some coverage in Ch. 10 but other topics in that chapter on Emotion and Motivation are not covered as a result). Many of his chapters are also shorter in length and contain less content than the texts I would typically use. Some of the chapters combine topics (e.g., Ch. 9 - Intelligence and Language) that are often treated in separate chapters in other texts. I suspect that this text may have initially been designed for use in an American one-semester introduction to psychology course. In BC, introductory psychology is offered across two semesters, often as two separate courses (e.g., Psych 101 and Psych 102). Some missing topics include an introduction to inferential statistics (Ch. 2), an in-depth discussion of the application of psychological principles to the workforce, achievement motivation (Ch. 10), etc. The text contains a Table of Contents but no Index. Although the author states (in the Preface) that the text contains a marginal glossary of key terms, I could not find such a glossary. However, when I hover my cursor over a key term, a box with the key term's definition pops up.

For the most part, I found the content to be accurate, error-free, and unbiased. However, I took issue with Stangor's initial presentation of the "Science" of psychology (in Chapter 1). I found his use of Dr. Phil as an example of a psychologist to be misleading. Such an example seems to contradict the author's stated pedagogy of emphasizing psychology's empiricism and seems to feed student misconceptions about what psychology is. He also seems to mention Freud a lot (end of section 1.1, Ch. 5) – again, not a good example of the empirical aspect of psychology. Although Stangor presents criticisms of Freud's Psychodynamic theory in Chapter 11, he still overemphasizes this theory's contribution to the field and glosses over the major concern of lack of falsifiability. Also, PTSD seems to be over-represented in terms of problem behaviours (two of 12 chapter openers describe cases related to PTSD; PTSD is discussed in four chapters - 7,10, 12, and 13).

Relevance/Longevity rating: 2

Some of the content of this text is out-of-date. For example, in section 1.2, Stangor refers to APS as the American Psychological Society, as opposed to the Association of Psychological Science. The discussion on the DSM (and associated Figure 12.6, and Table 12.3) needs to be updated to the DSM-V (see also criteria for ADHD in box at beginning of Chapter 13). Also, whenever Stangor discusses the influence of nature and nurture, he tends to pit them against each other – the old "nature versus nurture" jargon (see Chapter 11 on Personality - is personality more nature or nurture?; Chapter 9 on Intelligence – is intelligence nature or nurture? ). A more contemporary viewpoint is "nature through nurture" which would be exemplified by the inclusion of a discussion on epigenetics. The text presents some recent research in the area of neuroscience – but it needs more, otherwise it risks becoming obsolete in the next few years. The text would also benefit from the inclusion of more research on the impact of technology on student behaviour (e.g., how/ why does the use of cell phones impact our driving?; are our personalities evident in our online spaces , like facebook?). If we want to show students why psychology matters, we need to present more research that is personally and contextually relevant to them (e.g., how does stress impact today's students?). Although I appreciated the attempt to insert appropriate videos and images, I found this book's screen display to be very text heavy and not very engaging. I currently use ebooks to teach my hybrid introductory psychology classes and I think the images used in those books are superior to Stangor's – the images occur more frequently throughout the text, and they are more colourful and in many cases, more relevant to the student lifestyle. Also, the ebooks I use tend to be more interactive – students can actually complete an exercise on a particular concept right after they have read about it by clicking on an icon in the ebook.

The text is well-written and easy to understand. Adequate context is provided when introducing new psychological concepts and explaining them. One exception is in the box on emotional intelligence at the end of section 9.1. The terms reliability and construct validity are used without being previously discussed or defined. They are defined later in Chapter 11.

The text is mostly internally consistent. Each chapter (with the exception of Chapters 1 and 2) begins with a "chapter opener" that describes an interesting case study. Learning objectives are presented at the beginning of each section of a chapter (alth

This text could easily be subdivided into smaller reading sections – instructors could assign particular sections within a chapter. Chapters could be assigned in any order to accommodate introductory psychology courses which are typically offered as two courses. However, I think this modularity comes at a price. Psychology is a discipline where there are recurring themes. I find the lack of delineated connection between chapters disconcerting.

The topics are presented in a logical, clear fashion. The one exception is the inclusion of a discussion of social dilemmas at the end of Chapter 7 on Learning. This discussion doesn't really fit with the rest of the chapter; a clear explanation of how/ why it fits into this chapter is missing.

The full reference for each citation in the text seems to be embedded in the body of the text throughout the whole book. I am not sure if this was some glitch in the formatting of the version of the text I downloaded but it was exceedingly disruptive to the flow of reading. I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out where the next sentence began after the reference! Also the font in a number of the Figures is too small to read (for example, Fig. 1.5, 2.2, 3.17, 4.29, 5.9, 9.4, 10.4, 10.6, 10.8, 13.7, 14.9, 14.13, 14.15). There is an issue with the formatting of Table 5.1 (the latter part of the table is cut-off).

The text contained few grammatical errors - I think I only found two typos!

The text is fairly ethnocentric. It does not include any introduction to or discussion of the differences between individualistic and collectivist cultures. Although the author provides some research on ethnic and cultural differences (e.g., discussion of stereotype threat and ethnic differences on IQ test performance in Chapter 9, etc.), I think it would benefit from the inclusion of more research findings on cultural diversity, especially given the multicultural composition of our Canadian post-secondary institutions. The following are some examples of where the discussion of cultural differences could be expanded: i) How do cultural perceptions influence the onset and prognosis of psychological disorders? (Chapter 12) ii) In Chapter 9, the author states that "Intelligence is defined by the culture in which it exists," but there is no elaborative discussion on the meaning of intelligence in collectivist cultures. iii) At the end of Section 11.1, the author states that "there is evidence that the Big Five factors are not exactly the same across all cultures" but he doesn't elaborate on these differences. Such a statement seems to contradict an earlier observation that "Big Five dimensions seem to be cross-cultural, because the same five factors have been identified in participants in China, Japan, Italy, Hungary, Turkey, and many other countries." iv) Chapter 10 would benefit from the inclusion of a discussion on cross-cultural differences in the perception and expression of emotion, as well as cross-cultural differences/ similarities in happiness. For example, many argue that happiness is only important in societies that emphasize individualism. v) Likewise, Chapter 13 would benefit from an inclusion of the effect of culture on treatment outcomes. vi) Research presented on causal attributions in Chapter 14 is only true for individuals in individualistic cultures. What type of self-serving attributions do people from collectivist cultures make? What does cross-cultural research reveal about the fundamental attribution error?

This text is very American in content. No Canadian reviewers are listed. All American statistics would need to be replaced with Canadian ones (e.g., Table 12.1, Figure 13.2, etc.). Specifically, the section on ethics in Chapter 1 would need to be revised to be consistent with Canadian policies. The discussion of Bilingualism and Cognitive Development in Chapter 9 needs to be modified to include the Canadian example of French Immersion. The case at the beginning of Chapter 11 could be replaced with a Canadian twin example - there are many to choose from. Also, it would be nice to include some examples from our Aboriginal culture. This review originated in the BC Open Textbook Collection and is licensed under CC BY-ND.

Reviewed by Denise Iacobucci, Faculty, Camosun College on 10/9/13

When conducting this review I compared this text to four other introductory textbooks (Gerrig, Zimbardo, Desmarais, & Ivanco, 2010; Myers, 2013; Passer, Smith, Atkinson, Mitchell, & Muir, 2011; Schacter, Gilbert, & Wegner,2013). The... read more

When conducting this review I compared this text to four other introductory textbooks (Gerrig, Zimbardo, Desmarais, & Ivanco, 2010; Myers, 2013; Passer, Smith, Atkinson, Mitchell, & Muir, 2011; Schacter, Gilbert, & Wegner,2013). The Preface and Approach and Pedagogy sections of this text do a good job of declaring the focus on both human behaviour and empiricism and how this focus limits coverage of topics found in many other introductory textbooks. Limited coverage reduces number of chapters and chapter size. For example, it is customary to find an overview of all perspectives of psychology within the first chapter or two (ie. as in Myers, 2013; Passer, Smith, Atkinson, Mitchell, & Muir, 2011). Stangor provides a table (Table 1.3) of different areas of psychology in Chapter One, but does not review humanistic psychology, the biological/neuroscience perspective, and/or Gestalt Psychology as one might expect. Although humanistic psychology is covered in Chapter 11(Personality) on page 631 it comes much later in the text and is discussed in terms of personality theory development. Although Stangor on p. 23 in Chapter 1 comments on the growing number of women in psychology, he does not highlight historical contributions of women and other cultures (i.e., Margaret Washburn, Maime Phipps Clark) to the field of psychology. Similarly, in Chapter Six (Growing and Developing) there is less focus on gender development, aging well, and later adult development with no reference to systems theory/bioecological theory in development (i.e. Bronfenbrenner, 2004) (i.e., Gerrig, Zimbardo, Desmarais, & Ivanco, 2010). Generally, Stangor's text has limited coverage of health psychology, stress and well-being, motivation & achievement, and Canadian researchers. There is also limited discussion of cultural differences and similarities regarding topics and research throughout the text. On-line versions of the text as noted here http://www.saylor.org/courses/psych101/ have a nicely laid out Table of Contents, the printed version or pdf version does not. Including this in the printed copy would be helpful to students in order to navigate the material. Similarly, chapter summaries that include a list of key terms covered within a chapter have been very helpful to introductory psychology students. The insertion of key terms at the end of a chapter along with an addition of a glossary for terminology would make this text more accessible and easy to navigate.

The inclusion of video clips on concepts, research, and applicable stories enables students to see psychology as they read through each chapter online. This is an advantage over commercial texts; however, these links are not always easily accessible via the pdf, WORD, downloaded versions. The HTML zip file did have these links. Although this text has a moderate number of basic images to illustrate concepts throughout each chapter, these could be updated and increased in number to keep students engaged with the material. Many other commercial introductory texts have more realistic and colourful images to depict concepts throughout each chapter. For example, Chapter 7 (Learning) has four images including charts and graphs while other commercial introductory texts have 30 or more images on learning (i.e., Myers, 2013; Passer et al., 2011). Addition of pictures of researchers would also highlight the people contributing to psychological science. I noted some issues with image consistency within a chapter. For example, in Figure 3.6 – Cross-section of the brain is not very clear with the green space indicating the frontal lobe being very small. However, in Figure 3.10 frontal lobe location is more clear and consistent with other texts.

The lack of information on certain topics, such as epigenetics, gender development, work/achievement motivation, cultural perspectives in combination with the static vs. active phrasing of definitions can, at times, date this text. Stangor's definition of learning "the relatively permanent change in knowledge or behaviour that is the result of experience" (p. 348) is static when according to the definition offered by Myers (2013, p. 266) "the process of acquiring new and relatively enduring information or behaviours". The active/present tense phrasing of this definition, in my opinion, is more dynamic. Given the Houston Community College (2011)example of editing this text, updating this version by adding sections is possible.

The text is clear and easy to understand. For the topics covered, they are well explained.

The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework. Stangor indicates in the Preface that each chapter has a "chapter opener" (p.8). This is not the case and I would add this feature to Chapters 1 and 2.

The modularity of this text lends itself well to updates and edits.

Generally, Chapters 1 through 10 flow well. My preference would be to move the social psychology chapter (Stangor's Chapter 14) to follow the personality chapter (Stangor Chapter 11), rather than having social psychology last in this text.

Although it is helpful to see italicized words in the body of the text, bolded words draw student's attention to the importance of these concepts. Adding a bolded type face along with a list at the end of the chapter would be helpful to introductory students. In the hard copy and downloaded pfd/Word copies I noted many that the Psychology in Everyday Life sections were written in a smaller font and subsequently not as easy to read. As noted in previously, not all video links worked when reviewing the text online – if information was provided about the source in the text it was easy to look this up and review these clips. As well, this online resource could have more interactive online exercises for students throughout the text. As noted in previous answers, diagrams and figures could be improved to provide more realistic images of biological components of psychology (i.e., the neuron, brain, synapse).

Grammatical errors did not stand out as I read for content, organization, consistency et cetera. I did note spacing issues between words a few times in the text. For example, on page 30 on my hardcopy and WORD document/pdf downloaded copies the words "ofevolutionary" required a space between the words, p. 310 "usinglongitudinal" and on p. 657 "Thesocial". These spacing issues between words seemed to be in the pdf, WORD and hard copies. Perhaps this comment is better suited in the interface answer.

For me, the text is culturally dated (ethnocentric) based on what is not discussed and some of the examples used in the text. Of the 12 chapters that have Chapter Openers, only 3 of these used examples from outside the United States. The other examples were from Canada and Australia. Highlighting research from psychologists in different countries and cultures would add to this text as would more discussion on cultural as context for behaviour. For example, Chapter 11, does not discuss in detail how collectivist cultures differ on personality research versus more individualistic cultures. Chapter 14 on group behaviour does not address how culture mediates group behaviour as discussed in many other commercial texts (i.e. Myers 2013, Gerrig et al, 2010). Today's students in British Columbia are from all over the world and I think this text could do a much better job of including cultural perspectives and examples within each chapter. Although Stangor mentions the importance of culture in Chapters, he does not extend the discussions on how & why culture is important to psychology theory and research. For example, in Chapter 12 - the social cultural influences provided are socioeconomic status, homelessness, abuse, and discrimination are all culturally specific. There is limited discussion on disorders unique to different cultures (i.e., phobias), disorders more predominantly found in certain cultures et cetera. The focus is on the American population. Commercial texts often cover the cultural variations in disorders (i.e. Gerrig et al, 2010). Based on the review I would recommend changing the White Ghost story in Chapter 1 and supplementing Canadian and more International examples in the Chapter Openers.

I believe it is important to provide an overview of all the major psychological perspectives in the first chapter or two. I would add those sections/content noted in answer to question 1 and 3 of this review. In particular additional content on student/worker motivation, health psychology and stress incorporating student examples would be useful. As noted in question 11 highlighting Canadian researchers Canadian researchers on topics discussed in text. As well, I think it would be helpful to create a student guide to the text as did Houston Community College (2011)or add student glossary, index of terms to the text. As well, the chapter summaries require more active reviews - such as multiple choice question review or something similar that has answers somewhere in the text or online where students can check their understanding of material. This review originated in the BC Open Textbook Collection and is licensed under CC BY-ND.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1: Introducing Psychology
  • Chapter 2: Psychological Science
  • Chapter 3: Brains, Bodies, and Behavior
  • Chapter 4: Sensing and Perceiving
  • Chapter 5: States of Consciousness
  • Chapter 6: Growing and Developing
  • Chapter 7: Learning
  • Chapter 8: Remembering and Judging
  • Chapter 9: Intelligence and Language
  • Chapter 10: Emotions and Motivations
  • Chapter 11: Personality
  • Chapter 12: Defining Psychological Disorders
  • Chapter 13: Treating Psychological Disorders
  • Chapter 14: Psychology in Our Social Lives

Ancillary Material

About the book.

When you teach Introduction to Psychology, do you find it difficult — much harder than teaching classes in statistics or research methods? Do you easily give a lecture on the sympathetic nervous system, a lecture on Piaget, and a lecture on social cognition, but struggle with linking these topics together for the student? Do you feel like you are presenting a laundry list of research findings rather than an integrated set of principles and knowledge? Have you wondered how to ensure your course is relevant to your students? Introduction to Psychology utilizes the dual theme of behavior and empiricism to make psychology relevant to intro students. The author wrote this book to help students organize their thinking about psychology at a conceptual level. Five or ten years from now, he does not expect his students to remember the details of most of what he teaches them. However, he does hope that they will remember that psychology matters because it helps us understand behavior and that our knowledge of psychology is based on empirical study.

This book is designed to facilitate these learning outcomes, and he has used three techniques to help focus students on behavior:

Chapter Openers: Each chapter opens showcasing an interesting real world example of people who dealing with behavioral questions and who can use psychology to help them answer them. The opener is designed to draw the student into the chapter and create an interesting in learning about the topic.

Psychology in Everyday Life: Each chapter contains one or two features designed to link the principles from the chapter to real-world applications in business, environment, health, law, learning, and other relevant domains. For instance, the application in Chapter 7 on Development, ”What makes good parents“ applies the concepts of parenting styles in a mini-handbook about parenting, and the application in Chapter 3 is about the difficulties that left-handed people face performing everyday tasks in a right-handed world.

Research Foci: Introduction to Psychology emphasizes empiricism throughout, but without making it a distraction from the main story line. Each chapter presents two close-ups on research — well articulated and specific examples of research within the content area, each including a summary of the hypotheses, methods, results, and interpretations. This feature provides a continuous thread that reminds students of the importance of empirical research. The research foci also emphasize the fact that findings are not always predictable ahead of time (dispelling the myth of hindsight bias), and also help students understand how research really works. The author's focus on behavior and empiricism has produced, Introduction to Psychology, a text that is better organized, has fewer chapters, and is somewhat shorter than many of the leading books. Now, you don't have to believe us. Check the book out online or order your desk copy today.

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Psychology BSc

Our accredited course covers the breadth of psychology. Study topics from social, health and clinical psychology, to cognitive and developmental psychology, neuroscience and psychological research methods.

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  • A Levels AAB Other entry requirements
  • UCAS code C800
  • 3 years / Full-time
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Course description.

Students trial virtual reality simulators in the lab

Enrol in this British Psychological Society accredited course and gain the skills and knowledge to understand human behaviour and mental processes.

Your Psychology BSc at Sheffield covers five core areas, giving you a comprehensive understanding of the subject:

  • Social and health psychology
  • Neuroscience and clinical psychology
  • Cognitive psychology
  • Developmental psychology
  • Research methods

Within these five areas you'll get the chance to explore important topics with real world relevance such as addictions, eating disorders and depression. You'll run your own experiments and learn from some of the UK’s top psychology researchers, too.

In the first year of your degree, you'll study fundamental psychology topics, including how memory works, how we interact with others and our environment, and the biology behind human behaviour. In second year, you go even deeper into these core subjects. For example, you’ll learn about eating disorders, how children learn, and why people struggle to follow through with their intentions.

Advanced research methods run through this course like a spine. By the end of year two you’ll know how to use professional statistical analysis software, and how to take ethical considerations into account when designing research projects.

In your final year, you’ll have a wide range of modules to choose from. Whether it's criminal psychology, the psychology of sleep, clinical psychology, or the psychology of eating behaviour and weight management, you can focus on what interests you the most.

You'll also complete an in-depth research project on a topic you've chosen, with access to state-of-the-art psychology research facilities and tools like EEG, eye tracking, or virtual reality. You could even choose to undertake a six-week part-time work placement, making a real contribution to a local community partner.

Why study this course?

  • British Psychological Society (BPS) accredited course - BPS accreditation makes you eligible for graduate membership – the first step to becoming a chartered psychologist, and necessary for courses in clinical, health and occupational psychology.
  • Learn from leading researchers - with 92% of our research rated as world-leading or internationally excellent, studying psychology at Sheffield means you’ll be taught by leading researchers in the field.
  • UK’s number 1 Students' Union - as voted for by students, for the last six years running.

A selection of modules are available each year - some examples are below. There may be changes before you start your course. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder .

Choose a year to see modules for a level of study:

In the first year of your degree, you'll study fundamental psychology topics, including how memory works, how we interact with others and our environment, and the biology behind human behaviour. You’ll take modules across the breadth of psychology ranging from developmental psychology and social psychology, to cognitive psychology, neuroscience and clinical psychology. Through your training in psychological research methodology you’ll also be learning how psychological experiments are designed and conducted, and get experience of how to analyse data and present findings.

Core modules:

This module will provide an overview of the fundamentals of social psychology. The module will introduce and explain key theories and research, and their application, for understanding social psychological phenomena. Content is organised around two themes: How people think, and how people feel and behave. The module will include lectures that will provide opportunities to learn how to critically evaluate social psychological research and theories, as well as to describe how social psychology theory can be applied to address real world issues.

This unit provides an overview of core components of cognition, and principles of their investigation. The module covers perception, attention, performance, cognitive neuroscience, language, learning, memory and reasoning. It introduces and explores key concepts, theoretical perspectives and foundational methods. Examples of key studies in cognitive psychology will be considered critically.

This unit aims to provide students with an understanding of the key principles within neuroscience and clinical psychology. The module will introduce students to the basic structure and function of the brain, techniques and assessments used within neuroscience and clinical psychology, and an awareness of the ethical issues. The module will cover the aetiology, development, assessment and treatment of specific psychological and neurological disorders. Students will develop their knowledge, skills and understanding by attending lectures, engaging with activities/discussions within the lectures and engaging with the reading for this module.

This module provides an overview of the fundamentals of Developmental Psychology from infancy to adolescence, and into later life. The module introduces concepts of development, including cognitive development, social development, and neurological development. It summarises major developmental changes, and discusses theoretical perspectives underlying developmental research. Examples of key studies in developmental psychology will be considered critically.

This module provides an introduction to the knowledge and skills that underpin the science of psychology. We consider why psychological scientists conduct empirical research the way they do, and how to conduct research in psychological science. Topics span the various stages of the research process, including the logic of hypothesis testing; types of research designs, methodologies, and measurement strategies; descriptive statistics; simple qualitative and quantitative analytic techniques; and critical thinking about published research. Students will develop their knowledge and skills by attending lectures and participating in activities and discussions in workshops and tutorials.

Students will also be able to take 20 credits of optional modules.

In second year, you'll build on your first year studies and explore core psychological topics in greater depth. For example, you’ll learn about eating disorders, how children learn, and why people struggle to follow through with their intentions. You'll gain more advanced research methods skills this year too as you learn how to use professional statistical analysis software, and take ethical considerations into account when designing research projects.

The module continues from the linked first year social psychology module, Social Psychology 1 to cover specific social psychological topics in greater detail and depth. Lectures cover key theories and empirical research in social psychology. Lecture activities provide opportunities for applying social psychological theory and empirical research to explain or solve real world issues.

This unit builds on the overview of core components of cognition established at level 1 (Cognitive Psychology I). The module covers the same broad topics as Cognitive Psychology II - perception, attention, performance, cognitive neuroscience, language, learning, memory and reasoning. It expands on key concepts and introduced additional details of experimental methods and theoretical nuance. Applications of fundamental science are discussed.

This unit will build on the content of Neuroscience and Clinical Psychology I, to provide students with a more in depth understanding of principles within neuroscience and clinical psychology. The module will cover the aetiology, development, assessment and treatment of more complex psychological and neurological disorders. Students will develop and build on their knowledge, skills and understanding by attending lectures, engaging with activities/discussions within the lectures and engaging with the reading for this module.

This module provides an in depth understanding of development from infancy to later life. The module builds on the overview of Developmental Psychology established at level 1 (Developmental Psychology I). The module examines how cognition, language, perception, and social skills develop, as well as considering individual differences in development and developmental disorders. It summarises major developmental changes, and discusses theoretical perspectives underlying developmental research. Examples of key studies in developmental psychology will be considered critically.

This module builds on knowledge and skills developed at Level 1 to introduce more advanced concepts and techniques in research methods and statistics. Topics including research ethics; scale development; questionnaire design; advanced qualitative and quantitative analytic techniques; and critical thinking about published research. Students will develop their knowledge and skills by attending lectures and participating in activities anddiscussions in workshops and tutorials.

In your final year, you’ll have a wide range of modules to choose from. Whether it's criminal psychology, the psychology of sleep, clinical psychology, or the psychology of eating behaviour and weight management, you can focus on the areas within psychology that interest you the most, to support your career goals.

This year offers you another opportunity to put the skills you’ve learnt so far into practice. You'll complete an in-depth research project on a topic you've chosen with access to state-of-the-art psychology research facilities and tools like EEG, eye tracking, or virtual reality. You could even choose to undertake a six-week part-time work placement, making a real contribution to a local community partner.

The extended essay is intended to give students an opportunity to study in some depth a topic of particular interest to them within the subject of Psychology. The topic must be approved by the supervisor. The essay will not entail the student conducting empirical research. Rather, it is intended to provide an opportunity for the student to write critically about a selected area in considerably more depth than is possible in a tutorial essay. The work is presented as a typed essay no longer than 3000 words not including abstract or references. Students will also write a short critical reflection on the resources they have used to write their essay. The reflection will form part of the assignment cover note  submitted with the essay and will be no longer than 500 words. 

The research project is intended to give students an opportunity to investigate a topic in Psychology in depth, by empirical research or computational modelling over two semesters. The topic must be approved by the Level 3 Tutor and the Departmental Ethics Committee.Staff may offer ideas for research project work and/or students are encouraged to develop their own ideas. They are expected to carry out the research themselves, although assistance is given, as appropriate, with equipment, programming or other technical requirements. The completed project is presented as a typed dissertation. There is an 8000 word limit.

Optional modules:

A student will take a minimum of 40 and a maximum of 60 credits from this group.

What is this module about? If you would like to improve your ability to understand and critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of psychology research papers, this module is for you. This module will:1) Provide a clear framework to read and evaluate psychology research papers critically2) Provide direct experience practising critical evaluation in a supportive tutorial environment3) Help you better understand and evaluate the real-world implications of scientific literature Who is this module for?The module aims to make critical evaluation of research papers accessible and interesting for all students - including those who have found it challenging or confusing during Levels 1 and 2. The module will be useful for students interested in applying psychological research to solving real-world problems, science communication, or pursuing further study and research.

This unit provides an overview of the field of cognitive neuroscience, which is aimed at the understanding of the neural mechanisms involved in cognitive processes. Teaching will focus on methods and techniques, and the way in which these techniques have been used to help us understand aspects of cognition. Focus will be on perception, attention, and the neural underpinnings of certain neurodevelopmental conditions such as autism spectrum conditions and ADHD. In addition, we will discuss Brain Computer Interfaces and consider practical ways in which cognitive neuroscience techniques are being used in assistive healthcare. A strong focus of the course will be in understanding the way in which EEG is used in Psychology research. The course will include a practical demonstration of EEG and workshops focused on analysing EEG data.

This unit investigates the causes and consequences of conditions affecting cognition and behaviour across the lifespan. It specifically focuses on neurodevelopmental conditions and stroke. For each topic (i.e. for each neurodevelopmental condition covered and for each type of stroke), diagnosis, cognition and behaviour will be discussed. Each condition will also be set in context, explaining the support which may be required, including family support and intervention strategies.

The broad aim of this module is to introduce students to the link between academic evidence and clinical practice when delivering evidence-based psychotherapies. The more specific aim is to introduce principles and practice of cognitive behavioural therapy, as applied to the treatment of eating disorders, linking evidence and practice explicitly. The module will commence with an introduction to cognitive-behavioural models of eating disorders. It will then address the evidence that supports those models and the effectiveness of the therapy overall. Subsequent lectures will introduce and demonstrate therapist skills and impact on patients (e.g., formulation; cognitive restructuring; behavioural experiments; exposure; psychoeducation).

This module will introduce students to the psychological aspects of criminal behaviour. Developmental, social, biological, and genetic perspectives on the origins criminal behaviour will be considered. Different types of crimes, including homicide, crimes against children, crimes committed by gangs, and sexual and intimate partner violence, will be introduced and research in those areas will be critically evaluated. Following lectures, students will engage in independent study to critically evaluate causes of crime and to compare and contrast relevant preventions, using a self-selected case study. The module focuses on important aspects of criminal psychology. No prior knowledge of criminal psychology is assumed.

The aim of the course is to explain current research, both experimental and theoretical, into the brain mechanisms that underlie basic forms of reward processing, associative learning and the formation of episodic memories. The lectures first cover the neural responses to pleasurable stimuli, including drugs of abuse. Next, the main characteristics of classical conditioning are outlined, followed by an account of cerebellar anatomy and physiology: a necessary basis for the evaluation of models of cerebellar function as applied to classical conditioning. Then, the anatomy and physiology of the hippocampus and its involvement in learning and memory will be described. Focus will be on episodic memory and how neural coding in the hippocampus might be used to store and recall memories.

To introduce and explore psychological issues in work settings, examining people's behaviour, thoughts and feelings related to their work. The course also focuses on some key organisational practices and processes, such as training and development, and leadership.

This module will cover key theories and empirical research on the psychology of eating behaviours and weight management. We will consider the main drivers of eating behaviours and strategies to reduce overconsumption, as well as considering effective strategies for weight loss and weight loss maintenance. Throughout the course, we will consider why some individuals are more susceptible to overconsumption and weight gain compared to others. We will also cover the stigma that people with obesity experience and consider stigma-reducing strategies. You will learn about the methods used and the challenges faced by researchers in this area. You will also have the opportunity to apply your learning to inform interventions and/or programmes to promote successful weight management and/or reduce weight stigma. The module will be delivered via lectures.

How do children learn to use language with other people? This is the question addressed by research on pragmatic development. This module will start with some theoretical background on the nature of human language and the definition of pragmatics. It will then introduce you to the series of pragmatic skills acquired during infancy, childhood and adolescence (from prelinguistic communication right up to sarcasm and story-telling). We will finish up by considering individual differences in pragmatic development and atypical developmental trajectories. Throughout the course, we will highlight the research methods used to test pragmatic skills, the learning mechanisms that drive developmental change and the real world applications in computational, educational and clinical domains. The module will be delivered via lectures.

Human behaviour is one of the biggest contributors to climate change, loss of biodiversity, and deforestation. As such, understanding behaviour, and learning how to change it, has the potential to have a significant impact on these issues. This module will provide students with an understanding of how theories and methods used in the behavioural sciences are being used to tackle real-world environmental challenges. Students will use theoretical models of behaviour (e.g., Theory of Planned Behaviour, COM-B) and previous research to understand the barriers and enablers of pro-environmental attitudes and behaviour. Students will also evaluate a range of lab- and field-based interventions designed to promote pro-environmental behaviour (e.g., via incentives, fines, and persuasive technologies) and will consider the impact that environmental challenges have on our health and wellbeing (e.g., in the case of eco-anxiety and climate grief).  Through lectures and activity-led workshops students will gain skills in designing and evaluating behaviour change interventions and disseminating research to relevant stakeholders (e.g., by responding to government consultations). This module will also provide students with an overview of the innovative sustainability research taking place within the Department of Psychology here at Sheffield and will demonstrate how psychologists can (and should) collaborate with scientists from other disciplines to avoid unintended negative consequences (i.e., an outcome of an intervention that was not expected, but had a negative impact on the environment) and develop interdisciplinary solutions.

This module will introduce various concepts related to the field of Forensic Psychology, specifically considering what happens after a person has been convicted of a criminal offence. You will learn about different factors that contribute to the rehabilitation and resettlement of people with various conviction types. Example topics might include: post-conviction living environments, offending behaviour treatments, risk considerations, resettlement issues, and desistance from crime. You will learn about these issues for people with various different offence types. The module aims to develop your understanding of topics that are central to reducing reoffending, and aiding people with convictions to live positive, offence-free, lives. 

Managing large datasets is increasingly seen as a key skill by employers both inside and outside of academia. Best practice in this area often borrows from fields such as data engineering, where the ability to write code and understand programming principles is crucial. Students who complete this module will gain an understanding of these principles, and will learn the fundamentals of how to code using R, an approachable open source coding language commonly used in psychology, data science engineering, and  bioinformatics.   This module provides an introduction to processing and managing data sets with R, with a focus on processing data from psychological research. After collecting the data, both students and researchers can be overwhelmed by the huge amount of data and different files and are at risk to get lost in the many steps of preprocessing and analyses. In this module, students will learn how to organise and prepare data for the next steps of analyses. The module will teach fundamental coding principles, and cover how to develop routines for checking the plausibility and quality of data. By the end of the module, students will have acquired the knowledge to write a set of scripts and routines to preprocess empirical data sets from psychological research.

The aim of this module is to provide students with the opportunity to apply their learning from the first 2 years of their Psychology degree by undertaking a six-week part-time placement that would be completed alongside their other third year modules. Students will work alongside local community partners to complete project work that will make a tangible contribution to an organisation, local community, or specific service user groups. This module will enable students to see how a wide variety of professionals from different psychology, health, education, social work, youth work and other backgrounds work together to address the health and well-being of local communities.

The module provides an overview of the neural basis of sleep and the changes in the brain which occur during various stages of the sleep cycle. It will also cover the reasons why we sleep and the functions of sleep, with examples from Cognitive Psychology. In addition to this, some of the most common sleep disorders will be examined, including explanations regarding their underlying aetiology and current available treatments. This module is broad and will make references to different areas of Psychology, including elements of Neuroscience, Clinical, Cognitive and Health Psychology.

This module will introduce students to controversial issues related to addiction from a psychological perspective. Topics will cover the nature of addiction, its determinants, underlying neurological basis, treatment, and prognosis. During each lecture, the controversial topic will be introduced before relevant evidence is described and critically evaluated. Clinicians and / or service users with direct experience of addiction may contribute to some of these sessions. Topics covered may vary from year to year as new controversies emerge, but are likely to include critical appraisals of the brain disease model of addiction, and the roles of compulsion and habit.

This module aims to increase students' knowledge of clinical psychology in practice. It will familiarise students with a range of treatments and interventions used in clinical psychology and their effectiveness, with an emphasis on current research evidence (where available). The module will concentrate on how therapeutic interventions can be used to alleviate emotional distress and improve functioning in common and complex mental health conditions; along with considering the use of transdiagnostic models where appropriate.

A student will take up to 20 credits from this group.

The module explores understandings about how people learn, and implications that these understandings have for how we conduct key social practices, including teaching, caring for children, assessing learning, and on educating generally. We will also look 'beneath' understandings of learning to the worldviews on which they stand, particularly 'realist' and 'constructivist' positions. This matters because 'realism' and 'constructivism' carry implications for how we conceptualise things we take for granted: the nature of truth, the process and products of science, the basis for ethics, the outcomes of research, and assumptions about what is. The module will explore these challenging issues.

This module will explore the importance of philosophy to the study of education. It covers key moments in the history of Western philosophy, focusing on the question of modernity (What is modernity? What are its ramifications for education?). The module will investigate the consequences of late modernity for present day education, a period in which the aims and purposes of education have become increasingly unclear, leaving education open to the rise of instrumentalism and the forces of capital. Overall the module offers a critique of common assumptions in education, provoking questioning about its nature and purposes.

This module examines a variety of psychoanalytic theories of infant development from birth through infancy and early childhood. These theories include the classical psychoanalytic perspectives of Sigmund Freud, Melanie Klein, Donald Winnicott and Jacques Lacan. We also bring in the work of Frantz Fanon, Juliet Mitchell, Donald Winnicott, Herbert Marcuse, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari to consider the ways in which the concepts and theories of psychoanalysis can be combined with the interests of feminism, anti-racist decolonisation, Marxism and queer theory. The module includes the consideration of the role of play, language and cognitive development on the child's developing understanding of the self and of family relationships. And we will explore the relationship between the psyche, culture and society. There will also be a critical analysis of the methodology that underpins the knowledge presented and students will be encouraged to critically examine the knowledge claims made by the various theories and theorists presented to you throughout the module.

This module will engage you in the current debates and practices of music in education and community settings, from the formal classroom setting and instrumental studio, through the work done by community support groups, to more recreational musical practice in the community. Questions of music's place in the curriculum, the relationship between school and home music, and the challenges of providing a vibrant musical education for all people, will be addressed in lectures and discussions. You will work in mentored groups to investigate and support community music-making or school-based music education in Sheffield, building your skills as a researcher, and learning about career options including teaching, delivering and managing music provision for young people and vulnerable adults. You will finish the module knowing more about music and its contribution to education and society, through your critical reflection on published research evidence, and through school and community fieldwork visits.

This module will introduce students to some contemporary issues in social philosophy.

This module examines welfare state support and services for children, parents and families, informed by sociological and social policy theories, concepts and research. Adopting a comparative approach, the module critically reviews different approaches to, and configurations of, welfare state support and services for children, parents and families across the UK and Western/Northern European welfare states. Four policy and provision domains are examined, namely cash support for children and families; childcare and early years' services; parental leave and work-family balance policies; and child welfare and family support services.

This module covers the adult function and functional development of the auditory system, including sensory transduction and information processing. It will focus primarily on the periphery but will include representation of information in central pathways, with attention to mammalian animal models. The aims will be to show how physiological and developmental mechanisms combine to create the exquisite structural and functional tuning of the auditory system to the external world and how complex sensory information is encoded in the nervous system.

In Education@Sheffield students are invited to explore and evaluate the rich and diverse research taking place within the School of Education. Through a series of seminars presented by active researchers, students are encouraged to critically engage with research - and the researchers themselves - in the fields of educational and childhood studies. The Education@Sheffield module enables students to acquire a critical understanding of various themes, settings and methodologies which shape contemporary educational research.

This module considers the extent to which education might be viewed as a global context with a shared meaning. Moving outwards from the dominant concepts, principles and practices which frame 'our own' national, or regional responses to education, the module explores other possible ways of understanding difference. By examining 'other ways of seeing difference', in unfamiliar contexts, students are able to examine the implications of globalisation for education and explore the opportunities and obstacles for the social justice agendas within a range of cultural settings.

The module will examine recent and current research into human neurodegenerative disease including Huntington's, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and motor neuron disease. In addition, reference may be made to the spongiform encephalopathies, frontal dementias and Lewy body disease, with emphasis on their inter-relationships and commonalities. The genetic and non-genetic aetiological influences, defining pathology and pathophysiology and current understanding of the underlying biology will be examined by a detailed consideration of current research in these areas. The module will also include discussion of the prevention and treatment of the diseases, highlighting possible therapies which may be useful in several pathologies.

This module will introduce you to theories, empirical investigations and applications of music psychology relevant to everyday life. You will learn about the diverse uses of music in everyday situations, which may include personal, communal and commercial settings. The reasons for music use in these situations are explored and possible explanations of music's ability to support functions are critically reviewed, including social, emotional, personal, educational and commercial impacts. The module will be delivered through lectures, group discussions, and small research projects.

This course provides an in-depth look at a selection of issues in contemporary philosophy of psychology. Philosophy of psychology is concerned with such questions as : What is the structure and organisation of the human mind? Is the mind one big homogenous thing, or is it made up of smaller interacting components? If it has components, what sort are they and how are they interrelated? What aspects of our minds are uniquely, or distinctively human? What is the cognitive basis for such capacities as our capacity for language, rationality, science, mathematics, cultural artefacts, altruism, cooperation, war, morality and art? To what extent are the concepts, rules, biases, and cognitive processes that we possess universal features of all human beings and to what extent are they culturally (or otherwise) variable? Do infants (non-human) animals, and individuals with cognitive deficits have minds, and if so, what are they like? To what extent are these capacities learned as opposed to innately given? How important is evolutionary theory to the study of the mind? What is the Self? What are concepts? Is all thought conceptual? Is all thought conscious? What is consciousness? This course will discuss a selection of these and related issues by looking at the work of philosophers, psychologists, and others working within the cognitive sciences more generally.

Affective states like pain, pleasure, and emotions have a profound bearing on the meaning and quality of our lives. Chronic pain can be completely disabling, while insensitivity to pain can be fatal. Analogously, a life without pleasure looks like a life of boredom, but excessive pleasure seeking can disrupt decision-making. In this module, we will explore recent advances in the study of the affective mind, by considering theoretical work in the philosophy of mind as well as empirical research in affective cognitive science. These are some of the problems that we will explore: Why does pain feel bad? What is the relation between pleasure and happiness? Are emotions cognitive states? Are moral judgments based on emotions? Can we know what other people are feeling?

This course examines the relationship of moral theory and moral psychology. We discuss the relationship of science and ethics, examine the nature of self-interest, altruism, sympathy, the will, and moral intuitions, explore psychological arguments for and against familiar moral theories including utilitarianism, virtue ethics, deontology and relativism, and confront the proposal that understanding the origins of moral thought 'debunks' the authority of ethics. In doing so, we will engage with readings from historical philosophers, including Hobbes, Butler, Hume, Smith, Kant, Mill, Nietzsche and Moore, as well as contemporary authors in philosophy and empirical psychology.

New technologies and new scientific knowledge make powerful claims about `human nature’ that are reconstructing how we understand ourselves. At the same time, they also give us new potential to reshape our bodies and brains. This module aims to critically engage with these developments using concepts from a number of sociological traditions. Can biology tell us anything meaningful about social interaction or racial and gendered differences, or about ability and disability? What are the criteria by which we determine ‘the human’ and who decides what these shall be? Does our psychology have an evolutionary basis? How are the boundaries between humans and machines changing? What is the human impact on the environment? Should we use new technologies to enhance ourselves? The module will provide students with the opportunities and tools to grapple with these and other important questions.

The module builds on the study undertaken in year one and two of the programme (NURU 146) and will explore the challenges facing health in the 21st century in greater depth. Topics covered will include: commissioning and the potential risks to service delivery, the personalisation and self directed support agenda, persisting health inequalities, economic pressures, management of scarce resources, demographic challenges, health promotion strategy in hard to reach groups, the need for evidence based interventions and their cost implications, consumerism and the market in health care.

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

Learning and assessment

We use a range of teaching methods to make sure that our undergraduate students get the skills and knowledge that every psychologist needs. You'll learn through lectures, small group tutorials and workshops, practical sessions in the lab and research projects.

We use a range of teaching methods to make sure that you get the skills and knowledge that every psychologist needs. You'll learn through lectures, small group tutorials and workshops, practical sessions and research projects.

Throughout the course you will be assessed through a variety of methods including exams, tests and coursework.

Programme specification

This tells you the aims and learning outcomes of this course and how these will be achieved and assessed.

Find programme specification for this course

Entry requirements

With Access Sheffield , you could qualify for additional consideration or an alternative offer - find out if you're eligible .

  • Standard offer
  • Access Sheffield offer

The A Level entry requirements for this course are: AAB including a science subject

Routes for mature students

Science subjects include Biology/Human Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Maths, Further Maths, Physics, Psychology, or Statistics

GCSE Maths grade 6/B

The A Level entry requirements for this course are: ABB including a science subject

You must demonstrate that your English is good enough for you to successfully complete your course. For this course we require: GCSE English Language at grade 4/C; IELTS grade of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component; or an alternative acceptable English language qualification

Equivalent English language qualifications

Visa and immigration requirements

Other qualifications | UK  and EU/international

If you're an international student who does not meet the entry requirements for this course, you have the opportunity to apply for an International Foundation Year in Business, Social Sciences and Humanities  or Science and Engineering  at the University of Sheffield International College . These courses are designed to develop your English language and academic skills. Upon successful completion, you can progress to degree level study at the University of Sheffield.

If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department .

Graduate careers

Department of psychology.

A psychology degree will put you in an excellent position for many jobs in the private or public sector. Many of our graduates go on to be Clinical Psychologists, IAPT practitioners or train in the NHS.

Our degree is accredited by the British Psychological Society, and covers all the topics and training that you need to complete the first steps towards becoming a Chartered Psychologist.

Our graduates work in human resources, market research, advertising, sales, social work, nursing and teaching. They also enter professions such as clinical, health or occupational psychology, usually after postgraduate training. Some of our graduates continue to a PhD to follow a psychology research career.

Charlotte Naylor - Psychology student

I'm now one step closer to becoming a qualified Educational Psychologist

Studying psychology helped Charlotte realise that she wanted to pursue a career in this field. Thanks to her experience at Sheffield and related work experience, Charlotte is now studying for a Doctorate of Applied Educational Psychology which will allow her to qualify as an Educational Psychologist after three years.

Chloe Saunders new

My placement year with IBM helped me to secure a place on their graduate scheme

After gaining valuable work experience within IBM's Human Resources Business Development team thanks to a year-long placement during her psychology degree, Chloe secured a place on IBM's graduate programme, working as a Business Transformation Consultant, analysing customer data to create artificial intelligence solutions.

Olivia Swarbrick

I get to learn something new every day in my job

Olivia works at consultancy giant, Deloitte as an Oracle Human Capital Management Consultant. Thanks to the research skills she gained at Sheffield, Olivia is able to stay on top of the latest customer trends to be able to come up with the best solutions.

research topic on psychology pdf

Our teaching is informed by cutting-edge scientific research, which ranges from neuroscience through to child development and understanding why psychological therapies are effective. All of this has an impact on wider society.

Our work explores health and wellbeing, lifestyle choices, cognitive behavioural therapy, safe driving, mother-baby interaction, autism, Parkinson's disease, and reducing prejudice and inequality.

Department of Psychology students are based at Cathedral Court in the heart of Sheffield city centre, where you'll find our state-of-the-art computer lab, seminar rooms, tutorial rooms and social space.

We're within easy walking distance of all of the main University of Sheffield facilities, including the Information Commons, the Diamond, and our award-winning Students' Union.

We have a suite of newly-refurbished testing cubicles where you can use computer stimulus presentation software to run experiments as part of your own mini projects. You can access a range of tools for testing participants in your third year research project. This includes eye-tracking technology used in perception studies, our state-of-the-art EEG suite for measuring brain activity, biomimetic robots, motion capture equipment and a virtual reality suite.

Why choose Sheffield?

The university of sheffield.

  Number one in the Russell Group National Student Survey 2023 (based on aggregate responses)

  92 per cent of our research is rated as world-leading or internationally excellent Research Excellence Framework 2021

  Top 50 in the most international universities rankings Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023

  Number one Students' Union in the UK Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023, 2022, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017

  Number one for teaching quality, Students' Union and clubs/societies StudentCrowd 2023 University Awards

  A top 20 university targeted by employers The Graduate Market in 2023, High Fliers report

Research Excellence Framework 2021

Student profiles

Photo of Bryony Lucas at graduation

I found the huge range of content that we've covered on the course really interesting

Bryony loved the wide variety of content, covering all the different areas of psychology that she was able to study at Sheffield. By gaining this exposure, Bryony was confident in choosing the modules she would enjoy the most when it came to specialising in third year.

Katrina Bennett

Spending a year on placement gave me a great taste of the world of work

Katrina chose to spend a year on a work placement as part of her psychology degree, working as a Research Assistant for Hampshire County Council attached to the Educational Psychology department. Although Katrina's career path has changed since then, the work experience she gained proved invaluable in building her confidence to join the world of work.

A profile photo of Kurt Armstrong

My course gave me the understanding of the subject that underpins my work now as an Assistant Psychologist

During his second year, Kurt did a paid placement with the Sheffield Autism Research Lab (ShARL). The experience he gained on this placement fuelled his passion for the subject and gave him invaluable experience for a future career in research and clinical psychology

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

Fee status help

Additional costs

The annual fee for your course includes a number of items in addition to your tuition. If an item or activity is classed as a compulsory element for your course, it will normally be included in your tuition fee. There are also other costs which you may need to consider.

Examples of what’s included and excluded

Funding your study

Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for a bursary, scholarship or loan to help fund your study and enhance your learning experience.

Use our Student Funding Calculator to work out what you’re eligible for.

Placements and study abroad

University open days.

We host five open days each year, usually in June, July, September, October and November. You can talk to staff and students, tour the campus and see inside the accommodation.

Open days: book your place

Subject tasters

If you’re considering your post-16 options, our interactive subject tasters are for you. There are a wide range of subjects to choose from and you can attend sessions online or on campus.

Upcoming taster sessions

Offer holder days

If you've received an offer to study with us, we'll invite you to one of our offer holder days, which take place between February and April. These open days have a strong department focus and give you the chance to really explore student life here, even if you've visited us before.

Campus tours

Our weekly guided tours show you what Sheffield has to offer - both on campus and beyond. You can extend your visit with tours of our city, accommodation or sport facilities.

Campus tour: book your place

The awarding body for this course is the University of Sheffield.

Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database .

Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

Our student protection plan

Terms and Conditions upon Acceptance of an Offer

Russell Group


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