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How to Write a Psychology Essay

How to Write a Psychology Essay

You may write psychology essay to understand individuals and groups by establishing general principles and researching specific cases. Another reason to write psychology essay is to understand specific terms or concepts. What are its goals? Experiments and papers in this field have four main objectives:

  • To describe what has occurred, to explain why it has occurred
  • To predict if it’s going to occur again
  • To prevent or change possible outcomes or behaviors.

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Table Of Contents

Whether you’re writing an essay on psychology for school or university, the steps are essentially the same. The process is made of severwla important stages.

  • Understand The Purpose
  • Decide On A Psychology Paper Topic
  • Gather Information
  • Craft An Outline
    • Introduction
    • Body
    • Conclusion
  • Understand The Format
  • Create A Rough Draft + Edit
  • Write Your Final Copy


A Psychology essay might be written to explain or describe a certain concept
Here are some examples:

  • What causes anxiety and phobias?
  • Hallucinations
  • Autonomic Nervous System
  • Behavior Analysis

Another reason students may write a psychology essay is to give a diagnosis. It might be necessary to give a detailed explanation. Tell why they think that person has especially this disease or disorder.

Psychology Essay Topics

If the psychology paper topic was not assigned by your teacher or professor, you can write about one of these themes.

five psychology essay topics

Write about a Topic within a Particular Branch of Psychology!

The secret to selecting a good topic for your psychology paper is simple. Choose a psychology paper topic that is narrow enough so you can focus all your attention on the subject, but not so narrow that you can barely find any sources or reliable information to write about. Need an example? You might start thinking that you want to write a paper about a cognitive disorder, but as this psychology topic is broad, you may narrow it down to something like the Cognitive impairment in Parkinson's disease. This particular psycholoy topic fits the happy medium.

Write about a Disorder

Mental disorders are patterns of behavioral or psychological symptoms that have a strong impact on multiple areas of life. You can write about one of the ideas from experts below.

  • Bipolar disorders ( a brain disorder that causes rapid mood and energy swings)

    • Mania (characterized by feeling over excited)
    • Depressive episodes (characterized by feeling of deep sadness, guilt, fatigue, and irritability)
  • Anxiety disorders (these type of disorders involve continuous and excessive worry that interferes with daily activities)

    • Agoraphobia (fear of public places)
    • Social Anxiety Disorder (people with such disorder have powerful anxiety and discomfort about being embarrassed, rejected or humiliated)
  • Trauma and Stressor-Related Disorders (commonly caused by a stressful or traumatic event)

    • Adjustment disorders (causes as a response to a sudden change such as divorce, job loss, end of a relationship with someone close, or other disappointment or loss)
    • Post-Traumatic stress disorder (can develop after a person has experienced a stressful life event)
  • Dissociative Disorders

    • Dissociative amnesia (temporary loss of memory. Memory loss may last for just a period or even for many years)
    • Dissociative identity disorder (just imagine somebody except you in your body)
    • Derealization disorder (may be characterized by experiencing a feeling of being outside of your own body (depersonalization) and being disconnected from reality (derealization)
  • Eating Disorders

    • Anorexia (characterized by restricted food consumption that leads to serious weight loss and very low body weight)
    • Pica (craving and consuming non-food substances: soap, glass, dirt, etc.)
  • Sleep-Wake Disorders

    • Narcolepsy (irrepressible need to sleep)
    • Parasomnias (abnormal behaviors that take place during sleep)
    • Insomnia (unable to get enough sleep)
  • Disruptive, Impulse-Control

    • Kleptomania (inability to control the will to steal)
    • Pyromania (when a human being feel fascination with fire and with things that burning)

Choose a Psychology Paper Topic Related to Human Cognition

It is a study of mental function, including learning, memory, attention, perception, reasoning, language, conceptual development, and decision-making. What are the specific psychology paper topics?

  • Dreams
  • Perception
  • Moral judgement

Think about Psychology Topics for Papers Related to Human Development

In this field of study, you might decide on a psychology topic connected to early childhood: language learning, social learning, etc.
Some other psychology paper topics you might find interesting:

  • Child abuse
  • Bullying
  • Gender roles

Write about a Book or Academic Journal

You can write a psychology critique paper on a book or an academic journal. How about an example? You might write a critical analysis of a Karen Horney, The Neurotic Personality of Our Time book.

Analyze One of Famous Experiment or Study

Famous studies. Some revolutionary experiments have given a lot of insight into the field. When you write a paper on one of these experiments, you can pick an aspect of the experiment or describe it and explain how it works and how it contributed to the field. See several possible topics for psychology papers.

  • Milgram Obedience Experiment
  • Robbers Cave Experiment
  • Stanford Prison Study
  • Pavlov’s Conditioning Experiment
  • The Asch Conformity Experiment

Common Questions & Prompts And How To Answer Them

shelf with books


The nature vs. nurture question is one of the most fundamental questions of the social science. Are we the way we are because of our biology and heredity (nature) or because of our environment (nurture)? Many psychologists agree that it is a mixture of both that makes us who we are, and a studnet should try to defend this poistion in such psychology paper.

Is psychology a science?

There is no simple answer to this question either, as many debates that psychology should not be seen as a science because of the often-disproved theories and abstract concepts. The counter-argument is that the field is based on hard sciences. Those are chemistry and biology. All it comes down to is that the subject can explain Depression and Anxiety with brain scans and blood tests, but it can not explain why teenagers slam doors when they’re angry.

Why I chose psychology?

This question can be asked when you pick Psychology as your major for university study or when you choose to take that class in high school. In your response, show your enthusiasm toward the subject by listing what you genuinely hope to learn and take away from the class.

Child psychology

This topic has to do with developmental psychology. It is a specialized branch used to understand the development of the mind from infancy to adolescence. For this kind of essays, you might want to research Erik Erikson, Vygotsky, and Piaget. You can explore an extremely wide range of psychology topics such as language acquisition, attachment theories, or critical periods of development.


This essay prompt deals with what makes people different as individuals. Common exploration topics are type theories, psychoanalytic theories, and humanistic theories.

Psychology in everyday life

Psychology in everyday life uses practices from a field of study called applied psychology. This field is an umbrella term for these types of psychology: counseling, education, clinical, and medical. There is a lot to choose from here, so if this topic was assigned to you, pick an area that you are most interested in.

Forensic psychology

Forensic psychology is an intersection between psychology and the justice system. it means people who work in this field deal with law and trials; possible broad subjects could include testimony validity, antisocial behavior, and sexual harassment.

Where to Gather Information for Psychology Essay

Read Reliable Literature

Read literature that focuses on the criteria or assignment from your professor to fulfill the reader’s expectations about the quality and the trustworthiness of your paper. There are a lot of literature available online, or in public or university libraries.

Primary Sources

Articles published in academic journals deserve special attention they are the primary sources to collect information from for your psychology essay. These articles report on original research which may be at the cutting edge of knowledge production in their field of study. Such materials are usually the best to collect information from.

Other sources

Depending on a topic you are writing about, there might be a wide range of sources which might be relevant: interviews with experts, films, documentaries, museum exhibitions, newspapers, etc. These are examples of sources which might be relevant.

APA Format in the AP Psychology Essay

When writing an essay about psychology, it is vital to use the correct style and also reference everything accordingly. Although there are many different styles to choose from, we recommend using American Psychological Association or APA format. For more detailed info check out this blog on American Psychological Association or APA citation style. It is the right referencing format to use for your essay.

Here are some basic guidelines when writing in APA format:

  • A clearly readable font. (Times New Roman 12 pt)
  • Double line spacing
  • 1-inch margins all the way round
  • Include an APA style header at the top of every page with shortened title (<50 characters)
  • Insert the page number on the right
  • The 1st word in every paragraph should be indented

In the papers over 5 pages, the APA format should be broken down into the following sections:

  1. Title page
  2. Abstract
  3. Main body
  4. References

APA in text citation should follow certain rules as incorrectly referenced material can lose marks and lead to plagiarism. Here are some key points to keep in mind with APA in text citation:

  • Use Capitals for the name of author and any itials.
  • Capitalize the title of the source.
  • Include the page number when quoting, unless paraphrasing then this is not necessary.
  • If the authors name is not given then use the initial words of the title.

There are APA citation generators online which offer basic help often prompting for payment and prone to making mistakes. Using an APA citation generator is not advised. It will never beat the hard work and dedication of the personal touch.

If still in any doubt why not get some help from the experts with proofreading services they can check your work is cited in APA format or order a custom-made Psychology essay.

AP Psychology Essay Requirements

AP psychology essay questions (the “free response” questions) constitute 33% of your AP Psych exam grade. These prompts are designed for people who took the AP Psych course. Do not expect them to be easy. Below are some examples prompts and some tips on how to write an essay during your exam.


AP Psychology exam questions usually include the same kind of structure, and you will be given a topic with several subcategories. In the exam, each subcategory must be addressed to score maximum points. Here is an example of a question:

Example: Annie babysat a 5-year-old child one day. She and the child had some pecan pie. Annie was unaware that the child was allergic to most types of nuts and the child’s parents didn’t warn her prior. Annie drove the child to the hospital, but on the way she panics and gets lost. Annie takes a couple of wrong turns. Gladly, the child survives, but months following the accident Annie can’t get behind the wheel, and she no longer likes pecan pie.

  • Part A. Explain how each of the following helped Annie drive to the hospital:

    • Motor neurons,
    • Retinal disparity,
    • Heuristic,
    • Procedural memory.
  • Part B. Explain how each of the following has lead Annie to have a negative experience:

    • Anxiety and panic,
    • Conditioned response,
    • Aversion Therapy.

When you begin to address this prompt, you will want to look at each aspect of the question. Define the vocabulary words (in this case, Heuristic, Motor neurons, Anxiety, etc.) and then explain how they relate to the example. Need an example? On the exam itself, you would want to write something like this: “Annie experiences anxiety around driving because she had a stressful experience while driving the child to the hospital” instead of something like “Anxiety is a worry, nervousness, or unease about something” without an explanation or a connection to the prompt. To get full credit, address every single bullet point. Again, don’t forget to write in an essay format. Do not answer in bullet points.

Create An Outline

  • Introduction
    • Topic
    • Thesis
  • Body
    • Theme 1
    • Theme 2
    • Theme 3
  • Conclusion

psychology essay outline

Polishing It Up & Submitting

Congratulations, you are almost there. The last step you need to take is to write a rough draft, edit it, and then turn it into a well-written psychology paper. To ease your life and save you time here are some tips you may use while checking.

Give Yourself a 2 Hours Rest.

It’s hard to be actively involved in writing for a long time, and even harder to spot mistakes after hours of unstoppable writing. That is why it is recommended to leave your paper for an hour or two.

Read It Aloud for 2 Times

This is a very good practice that will allow you to catch all your mistakes such as, mispronounced words, grammatical errors, punctuation mistakes, etc.

Find a Second Pair of Eyes

Ask your siblings or your friends to help you with this. You can ask them to read your essay and give you a feedback whether it’s positive or not. You can take someoe who is not aware of the topic. Ask that person to read your paper and grade it.

quote by Dr.Seuss

So, Psychological Essays are not your Strong Suit.

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