Psychology research proposal topics

Updated July 20, 2017

Psychologists conduct research on humans and animals to understand everything from the influence of personality on behaviour to brain functions. They conduct research in laboratories and in the field, for example in classrooms, businesses, homes, zoos, and hospitals. Students can get help finding research ideas from classes in research methods and experimental psychology, and from their professors.

Developmental Psychology

Students interested in developmental psychology can find topics for research proposals in classes on adolescent, child, or lifetime development. Among potential topics are how anorexia impacts the family, the impact of child abuse and neglect on temperament, the effect of children's temperament on maternal attachment, the impact of authoritarian supervision on adolescent development, the impact of temperament on feelings of guilt, the impact of moral atmosphere on development of guilt, the impact of attractiveness on sibling interactions, the impact of child's temperament on family interactions, and gender role changes during adolescence.

Social Psychology

Students interested in social psychology have a wealth of topics for research. For example, they can research how the behaviour of a victim influences helping behaviour, whether distractions decrease bystander intervention, how the attractiveness of individuals influences perceptions of their personalities, whether prejudice influences hiring decisions, how long term relationships change love for a partner, or people's perception of appropriate jobs for men and women.

Psychology and Law

People interested psychology and law can find many topics for research in areas related to the legal system. Among potential research topics are how the attractiveness of a defendant influences jury decisions, do jurors believe an older child witness more than a younger child witness, are people more likely to believe a minority is guilty than a white defendant, does the gender of a victim influence perceptions of responsibility, and are jurors more likely to believe a police officer or a minister who is a witness?

Health psychology

There are many topics for research in health psychology, such as the impact of teenage pregnancy on education levels, personality variables that influence substance abuse, social influences on why people exercise and social influences on risky sexual behaviour. Other topics include why people smoke, what factors influence how well patients follow advice of physicians, how to increase healthy habits, and the influence of pain on personality.

Animal research

Psychologists conduct research on animals to understand people and animals. Some topics for research on animals are: the impact of reinforcement schedule on behaviour, the impact of pain on learnt helplessness, how animals adapt to change, and how early experience influences levels of cognition.

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About the Author

Linda Foley has been writing about psychology and the justice system since 1974. Her articles have been published in the "Journal of Forensic Psychology," "Trial Lawyer" and the "Journal of Social Behavior and Personality." Foley holds a Doctor of Philosophy in social psychology from the University of Florida.