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80 fascinating psychology research questions for your next project

Last updated

15 February 2024

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Dovetail Editorial Team

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Psychology research is essential for furthering our understanding of human behavior and improving the diagnosis and treatment of psychological conditions.

When psychologists know more about how different social and cultural factors influence how humans act, think, and feel, they can recommend improvements to practices in areas such as education, sport, healthcare, and law enforcement.

Below, you will find 80 research question examples across 16 branches of psychology. First, though, let’s look at some tips to help you select a suitable research topic.

How to choose a good psychology research topic

Psychology has many branches that break down further into topics. Choosing a topic for your psychology research paper can be daunting because there are so many to choose from. It’s an important choice, as the topic you select will open up a range of questions to explore.

The tips below can help you find a psychology research topic that suits your skills and interests.

Tip #1: Select a topic that interests you

Passion and interest should fuel every research project. A topic that fascinates you will most likely interest others as well. Think about the questions you and others might have and decide on the issues that matter most. Draw on your own interests, but also keep your research topical and relevant to others.

Don’t limit yourself to a topic that you already know about. Instead, choose one that will make you want to know more and dig deeper. This will keep you motivated and excited about your research.

Tip #2: Choose a topic with a manageable scope

If your topic is too broad, you can get overwhelmed by the amount of information available and have trouble maintaining focus. On the other hand, you may find it difficult to find enough information if you choose a topic that is too narrow.

To determine if the topic is too broad or too narrow, start researching as early as possible. If you find there’s an overwhelming amount of research material, you’ll probably need to narrow the topic down. For example, instead of researching the general population, it might be easier to focus on a specific age group. Ask yourself what area of the general topic interests you most and focus on that.

If your scope is too narrow, try to generalize or focus on a larger related topic. Expand your search criteria or select additional databases for information. Consider if the topic is too new to have much information published on it as well.

Tip #3: Select a topic that will produce useful and relevant insights

Doing some preliminary research will reveal any existing research on the topic. If there is existing research, will you be able to produce new insights? You might need to focus on a different area or see if the existing research has limitations that you can overcome.

Bear in mind that finding new information from which to draw fresh insights may be impossible if your topic has been over-researched.

You’ll also need to consider whether your topic is relevant to current trends and needs. For example, researching psychology topics related to social media use may be highly relevant today.

80 psychology research topics and questions

Psychology is a broad subject with many branches and potential areas of study. Here are some of them:

  • Social

  • Cognitive

  • Developmental

  • Personality

  • Abnormal

  • Clinical

  • Experimental

  • Organizational

  • Forensic

  • Educational

  • Sports

  • Cultural

  • Health

  • Neuropsychology

  • Religious

  • Controversial topics

Below we offer some suggestions on research topics and questions that can get you started. Keep in mind that these are not all-inclusive but should be personalized to fit the theme of your paper.

Social psychology research topics and questions

Social psychology has roots as far back as the 18th century. In simple terms, it’s the study of how behavior is influenced by the presence and behavior of others. It is the science of finding out who we are, who we think we are, and how our perceptions affect ourselves and others. It looks at personalities, relationships, and group behavior.

Here are some potential research questions and paper titles for this topic:

  1. How does social media use impact perceptions of body image in male adolescents?

  2. 2. Is childhood bullying a risk factor for social anxiety in adults?

  3. Is homophobia in individuals caused by genetic or environmental factors?

  4. What is the most important psychological predictor of a person’s willingness to donate to charity?

  5. Does a person’s height impact how other people perceive them? If so, how?

Cognitive psychology research questions

Cognitive psychology is the branch that focuses on the interactions of thinking, emotion, creativity, and problem-solving. It also explores the reasons humans think the way they do.

This topic involves exploring how people think by measuring intelligence, thoughts, and cognition. 

Here are some research question ideas:

6. Is there a link between chronic stress and memory function?

7. Can certain kinds of music trigger memories in people with memory loss?

8. Do remote meetings impact the efficacy of team decision-making?

9. Do word games and puzzles slow cognitive decline in adults over the age of 80?

10. Does watching television impact a child’s reading ability?

Developmental psychology research questions

Developmental psychology is the study of how humans grow and change over their lifespan. It usually focuses on the social, emotional, and physical development of babies and children, though it can apply to people of all ages. Developmental psychology is important for understanding how we learn, mature, and adapt to changes.

Here are some questions that might inspire your research:

11. Does grief accelerate the aging process?

12. How do parent–child attachment patterns influence the development of emotion regulation in teenagers?

13. Does bilingualism affect cognitive decline in adults over the age of 70?

14. How does the transition to adulthood impact decision-making abilities

15. How does early exposure to music impact mental health and well-being in school-aged children?

Personality psychology research questions

Personality psychology studies personalities, how they develop, their structures, and the processes that define them. It looks at intelligence, disposition, moral beliefs, thoughts, and reactions.

The goal of this branch of psychology is to scientifically interpret the way personality patterns manifest into an individual’s behaviors. Here are some example research questions:

16. Nature vs. nurture: Which impacts personality development the most?

17. The role of genetics on personality: Does an adopted child take on their biological parents’ personality traits?

18. How do personality traits influence leadership styles and effectiveness in organizational settings?

19. Is there a relationship between an individual’s personality and mental health?

20. Can a chronic illness affect your personality?

Abnormal psychology research questions

As the name suggests, abnormal psychology is a branch that focuses on abnormal behavior and psychopathology (the scientific study of mental illness or disorders).

Abnormal behavior can be challenging to define. Who decides what is “normal”? As such, psychologists in this area focus on the level of distress that certain behaviors may cause, although this typically involves studying mental health conditions such as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and phobias.

Here are some questions to consider:

21. How does technology impact the development of social anxiety disorder?

22. What are the factors behind the rising incidence of eating disorders in adolescents?

23. Are mindfulness-based interventions effective in the treatment of PTSD?

24. Is there a connection between depression and gambling addiction?

25. Can physical trauma cause psychopathy?

Clinical psychology research questions

Clinical psychology deals with assessing and treating mental illness or abnormal or psychiatric behaviors. It differs from abnormal psychology in that it focuses more on treatments and clinical aspects, while abnormal psychology is more behavioral focused.

This is a specialty area that provides care and treatment for complex mental health conditions. This can include treatment, not only for individuals but for couples, families, and other groups. Clinical psychology also supports communities, conducts research, and offers training to promote mental health. This category is very broad, so there are lots of topics to explore.

Below are some example research questions to consider:

26. Do criminals require more specific therapies or interventions?

27. How effective are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in treating mental health disorders?

28. Are there any disadvantages to humanistic therapy?

29. Can group therapy be more beneficial than one-on-one therapy sessions?

30. What are the factors to consider when selecting the right treatment plan for patients with anxiety?

Experimental psychology research questions

Experimental psychology deals with studies that can prove or disprove a hypothesis. Psychologists in this field use scientific methods to collect data on basic psychological processes such as memory, cognition, and learning. They use this data to test the whys and hows of behavior and how outside factors influence its creation.

Areas of interest in this branch relate to perception, memory, emotion, and sensation. The below are example questions that could inspire your own research:

31. Do male or female parents/carers have a more calming influence on children?

32. Will your preference for a genre of music increase the more you listen to it?

33. What are the psychological effects of posting on social media vs. not posting?

34. How is productivity affected by social connection?

35. Is cheating contagious?

Organizational psychology research questions

Organizational psychology studies human behavior in the workplace. It is most frequently used to evaluate an employee, group, or a company’s organizational dynamics. Researchers aim to isolate issues and identify solutions.

This area of study can be beneficial to both employees and employers since the goal is to improve the overall work environment and experience. Researchers apply psychological principles and findings to recommend improvements in performance, communication, job satisfaction, and safety. 

Some potential research questions include the following:

36. How do different leadership styles affect employee morale?

37. Do longer lunch breaks boost employee productivity?

38. Is gender an antecedent to workplace stress?

39. What is the most effective way to promote work–life balance among employees?

40. How do different organizational structures impact the effectiveness of communication, decision-making, and productivity?

Forensic psychology research questions

Forensic psychology research aims to provide professional psychological expertise within the legal and judicial systems. Forensic psychologists apply clinical developmental, cognitive, and social psychology to legal situations,using theories, principles, and research methods to better understand legal issues and functions.

Some questions to consider exploring in this branch of psychology are:

41. How does incarceration affect mental health?

42. Is childhood trauma a driver for criminal behavior during adulthood?

43. Are people with mental health conditions more likely to be victims of crimes?

44. What are the drivers of false memories, and how do they impact the justice system?

45. Is the media responsible for copycat crimes?

Educational psychology research questions

Educational psychology studies children in an educational setting. It covers topics like teaching methods, aptitude assessment, self-motivation, technology, and parental involvement.

Research in this field of psychology is vital for understanding and optimizing learning processes. It informs educators about cognitive development, learning styles, and effective teaching strategies.

Here are some example research questions:

46. Are different teaching styles more beneficial for children at different times of the day?

47. Can listening to classical music regularly increase a student’s test scores?

48. Is there a connection between sugar consumption and knowledge retention in students?

49. Does sleep duration and quality impact academic performance?

50. Does daily meditation at school influence students’ academic performance and mental health?

Sports psychology research question examples

Sport psychology aims to optimize physical performance and well-being in athletes by using cognitive and behavioral practices and interventions. Some methods include counseling, training, and clinical interventions.

Research in this area is important because it can improve team and individual performance, resilience, motivation, confidence, and overall well-being

Here are some research question ideas for you to consider:

51. How can a famous coach affect a team’s performance?

52. How can athletes control negative emotions in violent or high-contact sports?

53. How does using social media impact an athlete’s performance and well-being?

54. Can psychological interventions help with injury rehabilitation?

55. How can mindfulness practices boost sports performance?

Cultural psychology research question examples

The premise of this branch of psychology is that mind and culture are inseparable. In other words, people are shaped by their cultures, and their cultures are shaped by them. This can be a complex interaction.

Cultural psychology is vital as it explores how cultural context shapes individuals’ thoughts, behaviors, and perceptions. It provides insights into diverse perspectives, promoting cross-cultural understanding and reducing biases.

Here are some ideas that you might consider researching:

56. Are there cultural differences in how people perceive and deal with pain?

57. Are different cultures at increased risk of developing mental health conditions?

58. Are there cultural differences in coping strategies for stress?

59. Do our different cultures shape our personalities?

60. How does multi-generational culture influence family values and structure?

Health psychology research question examples

Health psychology is a crucial field of study. Understanding how psychological factors influence health behaviors, adherence to medical treatments, and overall wellness enables health experts to develop effective interventions and preventive measures, ultimately improving health outcomes.

Health psychology also aids in managing stress, promoting healthy behaviors, and optimizing mental health, fostering a holistic approach to well-being.

Here are five ideas to inspire research in this field:

61. How can health psychology interventions improve lifestyle behaviors to prevent cardiovascular diseases?

62. What role do social norms play in vaping among adolescents?

63. What role do personality traits play in the development and management of chronic pain conditions?

64. How do cultural beliefs and attitudes influence health-seeking behaviors in diverse populations?

65. What are the psychological factors influencing the adherence to preventive health behaviors, such as vaccination and regular screenings?

Neuropsychology research paper question examples

Neuropsychology research explores how a person’s cognition and behavior are related to their brain and nervous system. Researchers aim to advance the diagnosis and treatment of behavioral and cognitive effects of neurological disorders.

Researchers may work with children facing learning or developmental challenges, or with adults with declining cognitive abilities. They may also focus on injuries or illnesses of the brain, such as traumatic brain injuries, to determine the effect on cognitive and behavioral functions.

Neuropsychology informs diagnosis and treatment strategies for conditions such as dementia, traumatic brain injuries, and psychiatric disorders. Understanding the neural basis of behavior enhances our ability to optimize cognitive functioning, rehabilitate people with brain injuries, and improve patient care.

Here are some example research questions to consider:

66. How do neurotransmitter imbalances in specific brain regions contribute to mood disorders such as depression?

67. How can a traumatic brain injury affect memory?

68. What neural processes underlie attention deficits in people with ADHD?

69. Do medications affect the brain differently after a traumatic brain injury?

70. What are the behavioral effects of prolonged brain swelling?

Psychology of religion research question examples

The psychology of religion is a field that studies the interplay between belief systems, spirituality, and mental well-being. It explores the application of the psychological methods and interpretive frameworks of religious traditions and how they relate to both religious and non-religious people.

Psychology of religion research contributes to a holistic understanding of human experiences. It fosters cultural competence and guides therapeutic approaches that respect diverse spiritual beliefs.

Here are some example research questions in this field:

71. What impact does a religious upbringing have on a child’s self-esteem?

72. How do religious beliefs shape decision-making and perceptions of morality?

73. What is the impact of religious indoctrination?

74. Is there correlation between religious and mindfulness practices?

75. How does religious affiliation impact attitudes towards mental health treatment and help-seeking behaviors?

Controversial topics in psychology research question examples

Some psychology topics don’t fit into any of the subcategories above, but they may still be worthwhile topics to consider. These topics are the ones that spark interest, conversation, debate, and disagreement. They are often inspired by current issues and assess the validity of older research.

Consider some of these research question examples:

76. How does the rise in on-screen violence impact behavior in adolescents.

77. Should access to social media platforms be restricted in children under the age of 12 to improve mental health?

78. Are prescription mental health medications over-prescribed in older adults? If so, what are the effects of this?

79. Cognitive biases in AI: what are the implications for decision-making?

80. What are the psychological and ethical implications of using virtual reality in exposure therapy for treating trauma-related conditions?

Inspiration for your next psychology research project

You can choose from a diverse range of research questions that intersect and overlap across various specialties.

From cognitive psychology to clinical studies, each inquiry contributes to a deeper understanding of the human mind and behavior. Importantly, the relevance of these questions transcends individual disciplines, as many findings offer insights applicable across multiple areas of study.

As health trends evolve and societal needs shift, new topics emerge, fueling continual exploration and discovery. Diving into this ever-changing and expanding area of study enables you to navigate the complexities of the human experience and pave the way for innovative solutions to the challenges of tomorrow.

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