1. What is Psychological Research?
Psychology, as a discipline, is the scientific study of the human mind in order to understand the reasons behind the thought processes, emotions, and actions of individuals, groups, and society as a whole. There are various branches of psychological research, each with its own focus.
In addition to branches, psychology can be divided into two main sections: research and practice. Psychology research is the bedrock of understanding human behavioral patterns through systemic and scientifically rigorous investigation. Just like other scientific disciplines, research in psychology involves using hypotheses to test theories; although psychology often utilizes qualitative research methods (rather than quantitative) like interviews and surveys to collect data and draw significant insights. On the other hand, the practical side of psychology involves applying the conclusions drawn by researchers to address real-life problems. Practitioners most often pursue careers in therapy, social work, and psychiatry where they work directly with groups and individuals to improve their lives. The synergy between research and practice in psychology ensures that the field remains dynamic and relevant, continually evolving to meet the needs of individuals and society. In this article, we will only be focusing on the former section of psychology: Research.
2. Research Methods in Psychology
Psychology requires students to choose the appropriate research methods to systematically investigate human behavior. Here are some key methods used in psychology that can be easily learned and applied by high school students to conduct their research:
- Experimental Research is conducted in a controlled environment with one or more variables (hence the terms independent variables and dependent variables) being manipulated to view changes in behavior.
- Surveys: are used to collect quantitative data from participants to discover potential behavior patterns among groups of people.
- Observational Research: is conducted by observing behavior in a natural setting.
Some other popular research methods include correlational research, longitudinal studies, cross-sectional studies, neuroimaging, etc.
3. Psychology Research Topics
In exploring psychology research topics, we will divide the topics into groups based on whether they involve descriptive research or experimental research. Descriptive research and experimental research are two fundamental approaches in the field of psychology. Descriptive research is best used when trying to answer “what is…” questions (such as what is gen Z’s typical behavior when online shopping), while experiment is best when trying to answer questions involving “why” and “how” (why does Gen Z enjoy online shopping more than millennials) through manipulating one or more variables.
Here are some examples of psychological research topics based on these 2 categories:
- The Impact of Parenting Styles on Future Career Prospects: Investigating how various parenting styles (authoritative, permissive, authoritarian) correlate with career outcomes among teenagers.
- The Impact of Energy Drinks on Cognitive Performance
- The Effects of Online Classroom Environments on Student Learning
- The Effects of Technology Use on Attention Span
- The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories and Its Effects on Decision-Making
- Colors and Their Effects on Human Behavior in People from Different Age Ranges
- The Relationship between Aromatherapy and Mood
- Understanding the Psychology Behind Procrastination and its Impacts on Productivity
- Color Preference in Historical Fashion
- Effects of Virtual Reality on Public Speaking Anxiety
The purpose of these example topics is to get you started in the process of finding a specific topic that resonates with your interests and maybe even your intended pursuits in college. Regardless of what topic you choose, it’s important to make sure that you follow the correct process for conducting research– from formulating your hypothesis, to doing background research and designing your experiments/surveys. If you find yourself struggling to choose a specific topic for your research, don’t be afraid to reach out to your research advisor or mentor, as they have the experience to help you find a topic that will be both interesting and within your current means to pursue. Even if you decide to engage with different topics in college, participating in a research project in high school will give you invaluable experience and skills that will support you for the rest of your life.
Take Aralia Psychology Courses to get ahead
This Psychology Research Program takes knowledge from the Introductory psychology course, leads students to understand all aspects of psychology, and explores their interests through conducting research. The professor will guide students through an empirical review of current psychological literature.
This course is an introduction to Psychology – what many describe as the science of the mind and behavior, concerned with how and why human beings do what they do. In some ways, this course is like a tasting menu at a fancy restaurant – you get the opportunity to try various aspects of various disciplines of this fascinating science and see which one(s) excites you. This course allows you to learn the basics in each of the major branches of psychology today.