Articles on Developmental psychology

Displaying 1 - 20 of 33 articles.

developmental psychology research topics 2022

Here’s why you may not be getting the benefits you expected from mindfulness

Nathaniel Johnson , Simon Fraser University and Hali Kil , Simon Fraser University

developmental psychology research topics 2022

What is pathological demand avoidance – and how is it different to ‘acting out’?

Nicole Rinehart , Monash University ; David Moseley , Monash University , and Michael Gordon , Monash University

developmental psychology research topics 2022

From viral social media ‘pranks’ to hooning, what makes teens behave so badly?

Kathryn Daley , RMIT University

developmental psychology research topics 2022

Advertising toys to children is an environmental nightmare – here’s how parents can deal with it

Michelle Cowley-Cunningham , Dublin City University

developmental psychology research topics 2022

Secure attachment to both parents − not just mothers − boosts children’s healthy development

Or Dagan , Long Island University Post and Carlo Schuengel , Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

developmental psychology research topics 2022

Children, like adults, tend to underestimate how welcome their random acts of kindness will be

Margaret Echelbarger , Stony Brook University (The State University of New York)

developmental psychology research topics 2022

At what age are people usually happiest? New research offers surprising clues

Clare Mehta , Emmanuel College

developmental psychology research topics 2022

10 parenting strategies to reduce your kids’ pandemic stress

Amanda Sheffield Morris , Oklahoma State University and Jennifer Hays-Grudo , Oklahoma State University

developmental psychology research topics 2022

Teens are wired to resent being stuck with parents and cut off from friends during coronavirus lockdown

Catherine Bagwell , Emory University

developmental psychology research topics 2022

Isolating together is challenging – and relationship stresses can affect biological functioning

Hannah L. Schacter , Wayne State University

developmental psychology research topics 2022

Knowledge is a process of discovery: how constructivism changed education

Luke Zaphir , The University of Queensland

developmental psychology research topics 2022

Grudges come naturally to kids – gratitude must be taught

Nadia Chernyak , University of California, Irvine ; Peter Blake , Boston University , and Yarrow Dunham , Yale University

developmental psychology research topics 2022

Father’s Day: Lesser-known ways dads improve children’s lives

Audrey-Ann Deneault , L’Université d’Ottawa/University of Ottawa

developmental psychology research topics 2022

Adolescents have a fundamental need to contribute

Andrew J. Fuligni , University of California, Los Angeles

developmental psychology research topics 2022

Children are natural optimists – which comes with psychological pros and cons

Janet J. Boseovski , University of North Carolina – Greensboro

developmental psychology research topics 2022

When can you buy a gun, vote or be sentenced to death? Science suggests US should revise legal age limits

Laurence Steinberg , Temple University

developmental psychology research topics 2022

Teens aren’t just risk machines – there’s a method to their madness

Jessica Flannery , University of Oregon ; Elliot Berkman , University of Oregon , and Jennifer Pfeifer , University of Oregon

developmental psychology research topics 2022

More children are starting school depressed and anxious – without help, it will only get worse

Dr Amelia Shay , Australian Catholic University and Cen Wang , Charles Sturt University

developmental psychology research topics 2022

Lies about Santa? They could be good for your child

Kristen Dunfield , Concordia University

developmental psychology research topics 2022

For baby’s brain to benefit, read the right books at the right time

Lisa S. Scott , University of Florida

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  • Adolescents
  • Child development
  • Child psychology
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Developmental Psychology 101: Theories, Stages, & Research

Developmental psychology stages

You can imagine how vast this field of psychology is if it has to cover the whole of life, from birth through death.

Just like any other area of psychology, it has created exciting debates and given rise to fascinating case studies.

In recent years, developmental psychology has shifted to incorporate positive psychology paradigms to create a holistic lifespan approach. As an example, the knowledge gained from positive psychology can enhance the development of children in education.

In this article, you will learn a lot about different aspects of developmental psychology, including how it first emerged in history and famous theories and models.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Positive Psychology Exercises for free . These science-based exercises explore fundamental aspects of positive psychology, including strengths, values, and self-compassion, and will give you the tools to enhance the wellbeing of your clients, students, or employees.

This Article Contains:

What is developmental psychology, 4 popular theories, stages, & models, 2 questions and research topics, fascinating case studies & research findings, a look at positive developmental psychology, applying developmental psychology in education, resources from, a take-home message.

Human beings change drastically over our lifetime.

The American Psychological Association (2020) defines developmental psychology as the study of physical, mental, and behavioral changes, from conception through old age.

Developmental psychology investigates biological, genetic, neurological, psychosocial, cultural, and environmental factors of human growth (Burman, 2017).

Over the years, developmental psychology has been influenced by numerous theories and models in varied branches of psychology (Burman, 2017).

History of developmental psychology

Developmental psychology first appeared as an area of study in the late 19th century (Baltes, Lindenberger, & Staudinger, 2007). Developmental psychology focused initially on child and adolescent development, and was concerned about children’s minds and learning (Hall, 1883).

There are several key figures in developmental psychology. In 1877, the famous evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin undertook the first study of developmental psychology on innate communication forms. Not long after, physiologist William Preyer (1888) published a book on the abilities of an infant.

The 1900s saw many significant people dominating the developmental psychology field with their detailed theories of development: Sigmund Freud (1923, 1961), Jean Piaget (1928), Erik Erikson (1959), Lev Vygotsky (1978), John Bowlby (1958), and Albert Bandura (1977).

By the 1920s, the scope of developmental psychology had begun to include adult development and the aging process (Thompson, 2016).

In more recent years, it has broadened further to include prenatal development (Brandon et al., 2009). Developmental psychology is now understood to encompass the complete lifespan (Baltes et al., 2007).

Developmental Psychology Theories

Each of these models has contributed to the understanding of the process of human development and growth.

Furthermore, each theory and model focuses on different aspects of development: social, emotional, psychosexual, behavioral, attachment, social learning, and many more.

Here are some of the most popular models of development that have heavily contributed to the field of developmental psychology.

1. Bowlby’s attachment styles

The seminal work of psychologist John Bowlby (1958) showcased his interest in children’s social development. Bowlby (1969, 1973, 1980) developed the most famous theory of social development, known as attachment theory .

Bowlby (1969) hypothesized that the need to form attachments is innate, embedded in all humans for survival and essential for children’s development. This instinctive bond helps ensure that children are cared for by their parent or caregiver (Bowlby, 1969, 1973, 1980).

Bowlby’s original attachment work was developed further by one of his students, Mary Ainsworth. She proposed several attachment styles between the child and the caregiver (Ainsworth & Bell, 1970).

This theory clearly illustrates the importance of attachment styles to a child’s future development. Consistent and stable caregiving results in a secure attachment style (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978). In contrast, unstable and insecure caregiving results in several negative attachment styles: ambivalent, avoidant, or disorganized (Ainsworth & Bell, 1970; Main & Solomon, 1986).

Bowlby’s theory does not consider peer group influence or how it can shape children’s personality and development (Harris, 1998).

2. Piaget’s stage theory

Jean Piaget was a French psychologist highly interested in child development. He was interested in children’s thinking and how they acquire, construct, and use their knowledge (Piaget, 1951).

Piaget’s (1951) four-stage theory of cognitive development sequences a child’s intellectual development. According to this theory, all children move through these four stages of development in the same order (Simatwa, 2010).

The sensorimotor stage is from birth to two years old. Behaviors are triggered by sensory stimuli and limited to simple motor responses. If an object is removed from the child’s vision, they think it no longer exists (Piaget, 1936).

The pre-operational stage occurs between two and six years old. The child learns language but cannot mentally manipulate information or understand concrete logic (Wadsworth, 1971).

The concrete operational stage takes place from 7 to 11 years old. Children begin to think more logically about factual events. Abstract or hypothetical concepts are still difficult to understand in this stage (Wadsworth, 1971).

In the formal operational stage from 12 years to adulthood, abstract thought and skills arise (Piaget, 1936).

Piaget did not consider other factors that might affect these stages or a child’s progress through them. Biological maturation and interaction with the environment can determine the rate of cognitive development in children (Papalia & Feldman, 2011). Individual differences can also dictate a child’s progress (Berger, 2014).

3. Freud’s psychosexual development theory

One of the most influential developmental theories, which encompassed psychosexual stages of development, was developed by Austrian psychiatrist Sigmund Freud (Fisher & Greenberg, 1996).

Freud concluded that childhood experiences and unconscious desires influence behavior after witnessing his female patients experiencing physical symptoms and distress with no physical cause (Breuer & Freud, 1957).

According to Freud’s psychosexual theory, child development occurs in a series of stages, each focused on different pleasure areas of the body. During each stage, the child encounters conflicts, which play a significant role in development (Silverman, 2017).

Freud’s theory of psychosexual development includes the oral, anal, phallic, latent, and genital stages. His theory suggests that the energy of the libido is focused on these different erogenous zones at each specific stage (Silverman, 2017).

Freud concluded that the successful completion of each stage leads to healthy adult development. He also suggested that a failure to progress through a stage causes fixation and developmental difficulties, such as nail biting (oral fixation) or obsessive tidiness (anal fixation; Silverman, 2017).

Freud considered personality to be formed in childhood as a child passes through these stages. Criticisms of Freud’s theory of psychosexual development include its failure to consider that personality can change and grow over an entire lifetime. Freud believed that early experiences played the most significant role in shaping development (Silverman, 2017).

4. Bandura’s social learning theory

American psychologist Albert Bandura proposed the social learning theory (Bandura, Ross, & Ross, 1961). Bandura did not believe that classical or operant conditioning was enough to explain learned behavior because some behaviors of children are never reinforced (Bandura, 1986). He believed that children observe, imitate, and model the behaviors and reactions of others (Bandura, 1977).

Bandura suggested that observation is critical in learning. Further, the observation does not have to be of a live actor, such as in the Bobo doll experiment (Bandura, 1986). Bandura et al. (1961) considered that learning and modeling can also occur from listening to verbal instructions on behavior performance.

Bandura’s (1977) social theory posits that both environmental and cognitive factors interact to influence development.

Bandura’s developmental theory has been criticized for not considering biological factors or children’s autonomic nervous system responses (Kevin, 1995).

Overview of theories of development – Khan Academy

Developmental psychology has given rise to many debatable questions and research topics. Here are two of the most commonly discussed.

1. Nature vs nurture debate

One of the oldest debates in the field of developmental psychology has been between nature and nurture (Levitt, 2013).

Is human development a result of hereditary factors (genes), or is it influenced by the environment (school, family, relationships, peers, community, culture)?

The polarized position of developmental psychologists of the past has now changed. The nature/nurture question now concerns the relationship between the innateness of an attribute and the environmental effects on that attribute (Nesterak, 2015).

The field of epigenetics  describes how behavioral and environmental influences affect the expression of genes (Kubota, Miyake, & Hirasawa, 2012).

Many severe mental health disorders have a hereditary component. Yet, the environment and behavior, such as improved diet, reduced stress, physical activity, and a positive mindset, can determine whether this health condition is ever expressed (Śmigielski, Jagannath, Rössler, Walitza, & Grünblatt, 2020).

When considering classic models of developmental psychology, such as Piaget’s schema theory and Freud’s psychosexual theory, you’ll see that they both perceive development to be set in stone and unchangeable by the environment.

Contemporary developmental psychology theories take a different approach. They stress the importance of multiple levels of organization over the course of human development (Lomas, Hefferon, & Ivtzan, 2016).

2. Theory of mind

Theory of mind allows us to understand that others have different intentions, beliefs, desires, perceptions, behaviors, and emotions (American Psychological Association, 2020).

It was first identified by research by Premack and Woodruff (1978) and considered to be a natural developmental stage of progression for all children. Starting around the ages of four or five, children begin to think about the thoughts and feelings of others. This shows an emergence of the theory of mind (Wellman & Liu, 2004).

However, the ability of all individuals to achieve and maintain this critical skill at the same level is debatable.

Children diagnosed with autism exhibit a deficit in the theory of mind (Baron-Cohen, Leslie, & Frith, 1985).

Individuals with depression (psychotic and non-psychotic) are significantly impaired in theory of mind tasks (Wang, Wang, Chen, Zhu, & Wang, 2008).

People with social anxiety disorder have also been found to show less accuracy in decoding the mental states of others (Washburn, Wilson, Roes, Rnic, & Harkness, 2016).

Further research has shown that the theory of mind changes with aging. This suggests a developmental lifespan process for this concept (Meinhardt-Injac, Daum, & Meinhardt, 2020).

developmental psychology research topics 2022

1. Little Albert

The small child who was the focus of the experiments of behavioral psychologists Watson and Rayner (1920) was referred to as ‘Little Albert.’ These experiments were essential landmarks in developmental psychology and showed how an emotionally stable child can be conditioned to develop a phobia.

Albert was exposed to several neutral stimuli including cotton wool, masks, a white rat, rabbit, monkey, and dog. Albert showed no initial fear to these stimuli.

When a loud noise was coupled with the initially neutral stimulus, Albert became very distressed and developed a phobia of the object, which extended to any similar object as well.

This experiment highlights the importance of environmental factors in the development of behaviors in children.

2. David Reimer

At the age of eight months, David Reimer lost his penis in a circumcision operation that went wrong. His worried parents consulted a psychologist, who advised them to raise David as a girl.

David’s young age meant he knew nothing about this. He went through the process of hormonal treatment and gender reassignment. At the age of 14, David found out the truth and wanted to reverse the gender reassignment process to become a boy again. He had always felt like a boy until this time, even though he was socialized and brought up as a girl (Colapinto, 2006).

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Contemporary theories of developmental psychology often encompass a holistic approach and a more positive approach to development.

Positive psychology has intersected with developmental disciplines in areas such as parenting, education, youth, and aging (Lomas et al., 2016).

These paradigms can all be grouped together under the umbrella of positive developmental psychology. This fresh approach to development focuses on the wellbeing aspects of development, while systematically bringing them together (Lomas, et al., 2016).

  • Positive parenting is the approach to children’s wellbeing by focusing on the role of parents and caregivers (Latham, 1994).
  • Positive education looks at flourishing in the context of school (Seligman, Ernst, Gillham, Reivich, & Linkins, 2009).
  • Positive youth development is the productive and constructive focus on adolescence and early adulthood to enhance young people’s strengths and promote positive outcomes (Larson, 2000).
  • Positive aging , also known as healthy aging, focuses on the positivity of aging as a healthy, normal stage of life (Vaillant, 2004).

Much of the empirical and theoretical work connected to positive developmental psychology has been going on for years, even before the emergence of positive psychology itself (Lomas et al., 2016).

We recommend this related article Applying Positive Psychology in Schools & Education: Your Ultimate Guide for further reading.

Developmental Psychology in Education

In the classroom, developmental psychology considers children’s psychological, emotional, and intellectual characteristics according to their developmental stage.

A report on the top 20 principles of psychology in the classroom, from pre-kindergarten to high school, was published by the American Psychological Association in 2015. The report also advised how teachers can respond to these principles in the classroom setting.

The top 5 principles and teacher responses are outlined in the table below.

Five applications of developmental psychology in education
Principle 1: Teacher’s response:
Students who believe that intelligence is fixed are unlikely to take on challenging tasks and are vulnerable to negative feedback. Teachers should encourage children to understand that intelligence is malleable and promote a growth mindset.
Principle 2: Teacher’s response:
Cognitive development and learning are not limited by general stages of development. Developmental psychology stage theories do not fit well for all students. This does not mean the student has failed, and teachers should make this known to students.
Principle 3: Teacher’s response:
Emotional learning and self-regulatory skills can be learned by students. Students should be supported to control their emotions and behavior to enhance learning. This means using attention, organization, memory strategies, and planning.
Principle 4: Teacher’s response:
Creativity can be fostered in students. Creative thinking can be developed and nurtured by teachers by using innovative approaches to learning. Teachers should emphasize diverse perspectives and methods to foster creativity.
Principle 5: Teacher’s response:
Emotional wellbeing is vital in learning, performance, and development. Teachers should use emotional vocabulary, teach emotional regulation strategies, promote emotional understanding of others, and encourage all students.

There are many valuable resources to help you foster positive development no matter whether you’re working with young children, teenagers, or adults.

To help get you started, check out the following free resources from around our blog.

  • Adopt A Growth Mindset This exercise helps clients recognize instances of fixed mindset in their thinking and actions and replace them with thoughts and behaviors more supportive of a growth mindset.
  • Childhood Frustrations This worksheet provides a space for clients to document key challenges experienced during childhood, together with their emotional and behavioral responses.
  • What I Want to Be This worksheet helps children identify behaviors and emotions they would like to display and select an opportunity in the future to behave in this ideal way.
  • 17 Positive Psychology Exercises If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others enhance their wellbeing, this signature collection contains 17 validated positive psychology tools for practitioners. Use them to help others flourish and thrive.
  • Developmental Psychology Courses If you are interested in a career in Developmental Psychology , we suggest 15 of the best courses in this article.

developmental psychology research topics 2022

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Earlier developmental psychology models and theories were focused on specific areas, such as attachment, psychosexual, cognitive, and social learning. Although informative, they did not take in differing perspectives and were fixed paradigms.

We’ve now come to understand that development is not fixed. Individual differences take place in development, and the factors that can affect development are many. It is ever changing throughout life.

The modern-day approach to developmental psychology includes sub-fields of positive psychology. It brings these differing disciplines together to form an overarching positive developmental psychology paradigm.

Developmental psychology has helped us gain a considerable understanding of children’s motivations, social and emotional contexts, and their strengths and weaknesses.

This knowledge is essential for educators to create rich learning environments for students to help them develop positively and ultimately flourish to their full potential.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Positive Psychology Exercises for free .

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Fikri Sami

Jean Piaget is Swiss, not French. Switzerland is divided into regions by language. One of them is a French language region, including Geneva, Vaud, Neuchatel, etc. Jean Piaget was born in Neuchatel and lived and died in Geneva. Please make the necessary correction.

Bismillah Khan

This article has enticed me to delve deeper into the subject of Positive Psychology. As a primary school teacher, I believe that positive psychology is a field that is imperative to explore. Take my gratitude from the core of my heart for your excellent work.


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Challenges in developmental psychology, a focus on Sustainable Development

Peter klaver.

1 Centre for Research and Development, University of Teacher Education in Special Needs, Zurich, Switzerland

2 Institute of Psychology, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

Katharina J. Rohlfing

3 Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Paderborn University, Paderborn, Germany


Developmental psychology is traditionally of interdisciplinary nature with the aims to understand mechanisms of normative and individual changes and consistencies throughout the lifespan. The applied fields of developmental psychology target into health and educational sciences. The aims of developmental psychology cannot be reached without understanding and applying the underlying biological, senso-motoric, emotional, social, and cognitive processes that are intertwined with cultural context.

The field changes in dependence on internal and external factors. First, the increase in knowledge, in each of the associated areas can change the focus of interest in subfields or the whole field of developmental psychology. Second, methodological inventions can boost the development of certain subfields or the whole field of developmental psychology. Third, sudden changes in cultural context, by global events, such as strikingly demonstrated recently during the COVID-19 pandemic, affect the focus of interest in certain periods in life, or in interventions. Fourth, there is a solid claim for a bias in research on and from Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic (WEIRD) countries (Henrich et al., 2010 ), which affect inferences and impact from research in developmental psychology. Awareness toward the cultural context of research in developmental psychology, its limitations and generalizability, can change perspective and course of the field.

In the following Specialty Grand Challenge, we would like to sketch the most important challenges we observe within the field of developmental psychology, which are dependent on the above-mentioned areas of change: changes in knowledge and methodology, changes or bias in environment by global events and cultural context.

Aims of the Specialty Grand Challenge

One of the key challenges we observe in developmental psychology relate to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Agenda 2030 and the associated SDGs pose new challenges on science as a whole and as such on developmental psychology. The global goals to sustain the resources in the world's biosphere for future generations are balanced across the dimensions of social responsibility, ecological responsibility, and economic growth (United Nations Sustainable Development Group, 2019 ). Local or global actions at each of these dimensions can have an impact on the individual development and potentially on the normative development of people. Thus, they may affect individuals differently in childhood, youth, and adulthood. For example, youth in several countries have shown to take responsibility regarding SDGs to engage against climate change, against poverty, diversity, human rights, and democracy (Plan International UK, 2018 ), while Education for Sustainable Development is part of the curriculum in many countries. The development of youth may be affected alone by the responsibility they take, and the social changes they achieve may affect development of future generations. Participating more actively in a society and being encouraged by children's rights (UNICEF), children might require more support in developing skills that pertains to engagement in active citizenship from early on. The global context and youth's participation put novel requirements on youth's and children's care, caregivers as well as education.

Further, fast economic growth in urban areas as well as political conflicts can lead to migration waves toward these areas, which provides an impact on the health and education infrastructure in both rural and urban areas, which may in turn affect vulnerable populations disproportionally, and particularly children, elderly, and individuals with disabilities. Observations of the kind has been observed in several countries (Jampaklay et al., 2016 ; Holecki et al., 2020 ; Martín-Cano et al., 2020 ).

Actions relating to SDGs

In our view, SDGs require actions in the field of developmental psychology regarding relevant methodologies and topics. We observe two windows of opportunity to take action on the impact of SDGs on developmental psychology. First, global developments in methodology of research, particularly Open Science and Open Research Data help to access, merge, and analyze data in understanding emotion, cognition, and social dynamics in development within cultural context. These approaches initiate new discoveries but require an understanding of the technological functions and their limitations. Second, digitalization has a global impact on the use of knowledge and skills in social, health, and educational systems, which induces challenges and boosts research in the field of developmental psychology.

Regarding the methodologies, we recommend for three levels of actions. First, research in developmental psychology needs to adopt to the principles of Open Science. The movement of Open Science has been seen as an important step toward managing resources at a global scale. Open Access of publications as implemented by Frontiers and other publishers, increases access to knowledge across the globe. However, sharing data by implementing FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) principles on Open Research Data (ORD) would allow researchers across the globe to reuse data and connect own data to a larger pool of data than ever before. This could increase validation of evidence across different cultural contexts and could diversify and generalize theories on development. Simultaneously, methods can be further developed to adjust to novel contextual circumstances. Furthermore, a reuse of material, measures, procedures, and data contributes to more transparency and works against data loss, fosters collaborations, and generates reproducible workflows (Klein et al., 2018 ). With these methods, key issues relating to development and SDGs can be more easily studied, because contextual differences can be identified in larger datasets. Currently, Frontiers does not have a policy regarding ORD, but in our view, we could and should commit to such a policy within our research communities.

Second, research in developmental psychology should be committed to international standards regarding the adoption of research designs, conducting research, reporting and critical appraisal standards. The EQUATOR network currently provides 529 reporting guidelines for all types of research, which are relevant for social sciences and medicine, such as PRISMA (Page et al., 2021 ). Research communities, for example in neuroscience and medicine, have increased awareness toward such standards and thereby increased the quality of research (O'Brien et al., 2014 ; Song et al., 2017 ). It is important that research communities commit themselves toward such standards to increase reproducibility, transparency, and sustainability of research across the globe. In addition to reporting standards, the reviewing standards should be transparent and compliant with the guidelines. Several valuable critical appraisal tools have been developed, such as CASP or JBI checklists, which can support and standardize reviewing processes. By taking such standards more seriously, and with a higher commitment to them, globally, the rigor in addressing key questions relating to development can be pushed forward, and a sustainable knowledge base can be acquired.

Third, we observe strong innovations and methodological developments in areas, which now affect the field of developmental psychology. It will be important to increase awareness about applying technologies for specific solutions and specific contexts. A recent Research Topic on empirical research at a distance provides a good example of putting together novel and rapid methodical developments driven by COVID-19 pandemic but discussing their limitations thoroughly (Tsuji et al., 2022 ). In our view, it is important for novel methods to be presented in a comprehensive manner to provide informative access not only to procedures but also to its purposes and shortcomings. For this, Frontiers offers formats that might be used more often: Data Report, Technology and Code, Study Protocol, but also Brief Research Report could be used to introduce a technologically innovative method to describe novel possibilities of analysis. It should then involve a reflection about the used technology regarding ethics and privacy, its advantages, and disadvantages by addressing tradeoffs, for example between real world behaviors and in-lab controls. Examples of such technologies, involve techniques to record high resolution spatial and temporal data in more realistic settings such as Real-Time response measurements (Waldvogel and Metz, 2020 ), dyads in Experience Sampling Methods (Xia et al., 2022 ), Near Field Communication (Lorusso et al., 2018 ), Google Trends Research (Jun et al., 2018 ; Mavragani et al., 2018 ), and hyperscanning EEG (Kayhan et al., 2022 ). A debate on the use of these techniques may provide a window of opportunity for global research on development and SDGs.

Regarding topics, we observe a strong impact of digitalization on health and education systems. Health issues have become a global phenomenon. The way in which people at different stages during the life span have access to health care, receive information on health risks and preventions, and are at risk to health problems is not evenly distributed. Industrial pollution, access to nutrients, eating habits, digital literacy and consumption, access to information depend on societal, technological, and climate changes. These potential risk and resources can affect fetal, early development and parenting, as well as later periods in life. The increasing knowledge about the mechanisms and the more widespread possibilities to observe changes longitudinally in several areas around the world lead to a more detailed understanding of the development of health risks and the effect of interventions during life span. In our view, it is important that the knowledge about health risks at all ages and heterogeneous populations is well-documented and (digitally) accessible for use by professional health practitioners.

Along similar lines, we observe that education undergoes changes depending on technological development, particularly digital information technology. Access to information and knowledge about education governance, access to education during political, societal and climate change can all affect the way in which children develop and the way in which communities and families are able to support the development of children. The current access to larger datasets has the potential to facilitate research about the psychological development on these topics. We therefore encourage the research on human development, health, and education specifically concerned with the influence of social and technological change in dynamic cultural contexts.

The main challenges that we observe are related to the global movements in science and society, which affect the course that developmental psychology takes. In the past, developmental psychology has been dominated by European and North American scientists, followed by important research from Japan (Norimatsu, 2018 ). Now, researchers from an increasing number of countries across the world, but particularly China deliver important insights into the field of developmental psychology. Further, the Agenda 2030, the global issues relating to health and education, the Open Science movement, the increasing knowledge about developmental psychology from other counties, the ability to merge greater datasets provide the possibility to understand development at a different level. Our view is indeed in line with these developments, first because we see a chance that normative and individual changes in development can be better understood at both a global and local level. Second, because we trust that applied scientists can address that knowledge. Their task is to improve, for example, health care, health risk prevention and education in cooperation with professionals and providers of social support.

Nevertheless, we are aware of the subjective nature of our view. The foundation of it was mainly based on the set of Research Topics that we evaluate at the Frontiers in Psychology Specialty Section Developmental Psychology, the manuscript we receive in our role as Section Chief Editors, as well as our role we have as professionals at our universities and the research communities we work in. We are also aware of the diversity of ethical and cultural values, which drives our vision of research on developmental psychology and the visions of all researchers in the field. The hope that shared values on the necessity to continue research on developmental psychology in the light of Sustainable Development remains.

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.

Publisher's note

All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article, or claim that may be made by its manufacturer, is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.

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Developmental Psychology Dissertation Topics

Published by Owen Ingram at January 3rd, 2023 , Revised On August 11, 2023

A child’s behaviour is affected by his or her experiences. Language, IQ, and motor abilities are just some of the domains of developmental psychology which are commonly studied by students. Theories of development give different weights to experience or durable standards when explaining how change occurs. Others, however, advocate a middle approach that incorporates both.

Many people find developmental psychology to be very interesting and relevant, including parents, teachers, and doctors. Dissertations in developmental psychology can be both interesting and helpful. In this article, you will see multiple related psychology dissertations topics based on the studied analysis, previous professional demand and future growth expectations.

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Below we have mentioned some amazing suggestions for developmental psychology dissertation topics that can help you in your research.

Development Psychology Dissertation Topics

  • Children’s primary emotional needs (care, love, support, freedom, safety, being accepted and understood, etc.)
  • Child abuse is the root cause of numerous psychological disorders in later life.
  • How young children learn and flourish when their upbringing is defined by caring, safe interactions with people
  • who can assist their child’s learning and development?
  • Neglecting a child’s emotional needs and how it affects adult life.
  • Animal and child mirror tests (similarities and differences)
  • Psychological modifications brought on by ageing
  • Causes of the rise in psychopathic behaviour among adolescents and young people
  • Effects of child maltreatment on a child’s mental growth
  • The ageing process-accelerating factors
  • The importance of developmental cognitive neuroscience for the early diagnosis and management of developmental disorders
  • In light of recent discoveries in cognitive neuroscience, is Piaget’s theory of cognitive development still a viable theory?
  • The idea of plasticity in child development helps explain how a child can adapt to either positive or negative situations in life
  • The impact of culture on conversational comprehension, where kids typically don’t talk to adults
  • The role of the amygdala as a change agent in adolescent brains
  • an enhancement in working memory and processing speed that is generally applicable to the development of conversational understanding
  • The development of short-term memory from childhood to old age
  • How much discipline is necessary for a child’s personality to grow healthily?
  • The development of children depends on both biological growth and cultural acquisition
  • The Importance of Emotion Regulation in Understanding Positive Emotion in Depression
  • How much knowledge of neural development’s mechanics can teach us about how early cognition takes place?
  • Demonstrating how evidence of growing system integration during development can be reconciled with growing structural separation
  • The elements influence a fetus’s ability to develop its brain
  • Emotional growth in adults. When and how does it occur?
  • The things that young children fear the most and how those fears affect their psychological development development psychology and the ageing process about each other
  • Children with dyscalculia are influenced by the condition, or are they largely independent in their abilities unrelated to numeracy?
  • The function of facial stimuli in determining the progression of the ventral pathway in humans from childhood to maturity
  • When explaining changes during cognitive development, one particular learning mechanism or a variety of learning paradigms for various issues?

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How to find development psychology dissertation topics.

To find developmental psychology dissertation topics:

  • Study current research and theories.
  • Explore stages like infancy, adolescence, aging.
  • Investigate cultural influences.
  • Examine cognitive, social, emotional aspects.
  • Identify gaps or controversies.
  • Select a topic resonating with your passion and research goals.

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20 Fascinating Developmental Psychology Topics

Categories Development

Developmental psychology is a field that studies how people grow and change throughout the course of their lifespans. Developmental psychology topics are about much more than the physical changes that occur over a lifetime. These topics also encompass the cognitive, social, and emotional changes at different ages.

This article discusses some of the major developmental psychology topics and the historical origins of some of the best-known development theories. It also covers the goals and impact of developmental psychology.

developmental psychology research topics 2022

Table of Contents

Important Developmental Psychology Topics

Developmental psychology topics are focused on studying how individuals change and develop throughout their lifespan. These topics examine the physical, cognitive, emotional, and social changes from infancy to age. Developmental psychologists seek to understand the processes and factors influencing human development, such as genetics, environment, culture, and individual experiences.

Key developmental psychology topics include:

Child Development

This is one of the largest developmental psychology topics and focuses on children’s physical, cognitive, and emotional development from infancy through adolescence. Researchers study topics such as language acquisition, attachment, moral development, and cognitive abilities.

Adolescent Development

Adolescence is a unique development period marked by physical changes, identity formation, and the development of independence. Researchers who study this area examine developmental psychology topics like peer relationships, identity development, and risk-taking behavior.

Adult Development and Aging

This area explores how individuals change and adapt as they move through adulthood and into old age. Researchers study developmental psychology topics like cognitive aging, personality development, and the impact of life events on well-being.

Social and Emotional Development

This field focuses on how individuals develop social skills, emotions, and interpersonal relationships. It examines developmental psychology topics such as attachment theory, empathy, and social cognition.

Cognitive Development

Cognitive development refers to changes in thinking, problem-solving, and reasoning abilities across the lifespan. Researchers study developmental psychology topics and cognitive processes like memory, problem-solving, and language development.

Developmental Disabilities

Some developmental psychologists specialize in studying and working with individuals with developmental disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorder or intellectual disabilities.

Developmental psychology is an interdisciplinary field that draws on research and theories from various domains, including biology, sociology, education, and neuroscience.

The ultimate goal of developmental psychology is to gain a deeper understanding of human growth and change processes, which can have practical applications in fields such as education, counseling, and healthcare.

Issues in Different Developmental Psychology Topics

There have been several important debates and issues throughout the history of developmental psychology.

The three important issues that are often explored in various developmental psychology topics include:

Continuity vs. Discontinuity

The continuity vs. discontinuity debate focuses on the processes through which development occurs, including whether development is a gradual process or occurs in a series of discrete stages.

Continuity suggests that development is a gradual process that takes place continually. On the other hand, discontinuity suggests that development follows a path that often involves abrupt changes during specific life stages.

Stage theories of development are examples of discontinuity. Such theories suggest that children go through the same developmental stages that follow a specific order and usually occur at certain ages.

Stability vs. Chan ge

Stability vs. change refers to the overall importance of early experiences versus later events.

Psychologists have also debated whether certain characteristics, such as personality traits, are largely stable throughout life or whether they develop and change as a result of experience.

The stability approach suggests that many characteristics are present or established during early childhood. The change approach proposes that experiences, including interactions with peers and parents, play the most significant role in development.

Nature vs. Nurture

The classic issue in developmental psychology topics is the nature vs. nurture debate . Sometimes referred to as the nativism versus empiricism debate, it centers on whether genetic inheritance plays a larger role in influencing development and behavior or whether the environment has a stronger effect.

The nature versus nurture debate is a classic question in psychology that centers on whether genetics or environment plays a greater role in different aspects of human development and behavior.

In the past, nativists have argued that development is controlled almost entirely by genetic inheritance. Due to our shared DNA, certain aspects of development tend to follow a fairly predictable pattern in terms of timing and outcome. The onset of puberty, for example, tends to occur roughly around the same age.

As you might have already guessed, however, environmental factors can also play a role in development.

While empiricists may have argued that development was largely the result of environmental influences, experts today recognize that nature and nurture both have an important role and that the interaction between the two forces is also important.

Genetics plays an important role in determining when puberty begins, but environmental factors such as adequate nutrition are also critical.

Most psychologists recognize that both elements play an essential role, but the debate continues over many developmental questions about topics ranging from academic aptitude to personality traits.

History of Developmental Psychology Topics

You might be surprised to learn that child development was once a topic of little concern. For much of human history, children were viewed as miniature versions of adults. It was not until after the Industrial Revolution that researchers began recognizing and exploring different developmental psychology topics and investigating childhood as a unique, distinct, and important period of life.

Perhaps not surprisingly, some of the major theories of development center on the development that occurs during childhood. This is, after all, the time when developmental changes occur most rapidly.

Early investigations into child development began during the late 1800s with the work of naturalist Charles Darwin and physiologist Wilhelm Preyer. It was not until the 20th century with the work of famed psychologist Jean Piaget that concentrated research into child development theories began in earnest.

Other researchers who contributed a great deal of research during this period included Jean Bowlby, Lev Vygotsky, and Erik Erikson.

Developmental Psychology Topics and Theories

The modern study of developmental psychology topics did not emerge until relatively recently in history to address various aspects of how people change and grow over time. Some of these theories focus on how personality develops while others are centered on the cognitive changes that occur over the course of childhood.

Freud’s Developmental Psychology Theory

Freud’s theory of psychosexual development was an early theory that focused on how personality develops during early childhood . Sigmund Freud believed that psychosexual energy became focused on various erogenous zones at different points of development.

He also suggested that failing successfully to address the primary crisis of each stage could lead to a psychological fixation at that point of development.

Erikson’s Developmental Psychology Theory

Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development was similar to Freud’s in that it broke development down into stages and involved a type of developmental crisis during each stage.

Erikson’s theory was different, however, in that it looked at development throughout the entire course of life, from birth up until death.

Piaget’s Developmental Psychology Theory

Piaget’s theory of cognitive development suggested that there were fundamental differences in how children think versus how adults think. Piaget broke down this development into four distinct stages that typically occur at different stages of development.

The earliest stage is centered on gaining awareness of the self and the world, while later stages build on this knowledge as kids gain an increasingly sophisticated understanding of themselves, others, and the world around them.

Bowlby’s Developmental Psychology Theory

Bowlby’s attachment theory proposed that children are born predisposed to form attachments that aid in their protection, survival, nurturance, and development. Early patterns of attachment with caregivers can have an impact on how children fare as they age.

Those who can form secure attachments as children tend to grow up happier and healthier as adults.

Vygotsky’s Developmental Psychology Theory

Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory stressed the importance of social influences and culture on child cognitive development. While other theories such as Piaget’s suggest that there are universal stages of development, Vygotsky’s approach suggests that how kids learn varies depending upon the culture of their upbringing.

Goals of Studying Developmental Psychology Topics

Like other areas of psychology, the goals of studying various developmental psychology topics are not only to describe how development occurs but also to explain, predict, and even control the course of development.

By better understanding the many influences contributing to normative development, psychologists can recommend strategies, approaches, and interventions that lead to better outcomes and healthier, happier children.

The Process of Normal Development

Developmental psychology topics seek to understand both normal and abnormal development. To describe how children develop, researchers must note the normative patterns that occur (i.e. how most kids develop) and individual differences (i.e. variations that may occur).

Making Predictions About Development

Predicting developmental events allows parents, teachers, psychologists, and healthcare providers to anticipate the needs of children and respond appropriately. This also applies to later stages of life.

Adults realize that they may face specific health issues that result from the aging process, which allows them to make lifestyle and behavioral changes today that will influence later health and development.

Making Positive Changes

Finally, exploring developmental psychology topics allows experts to have an influence in the lives of children, adults, and elderly individuals. Understanding the developmental challenges that people face at different points in life makes it possible to design educational programs, public health initiatives, and targeted interventions designed to maximize well-being and overcome potential problems.

For example, developmental psychologists have found that social connections are important for cognitive and mental health later in life. As a result, communities can encourage such social activity by creating senior citizens centers where older adults can find connectivity and social support networks.

Impact of Developmental Psychology Topics

Developmental psychology topics also significantly shapes how psychologists, educators, and health professionals approach various real-world problems. Developmental psychology can improve the lives of children and families by looking at issues affecting social issues, parenting concerns, educational practices, and physical and mental health.

Research on human development has significantly contributed to our understanding of the parenting approaches that lead to the most successful child outcomes.

For example, psychologist Diana Baumrind suggested that discipline approaches, warmth, communication styles, and parental expectations marked some essential dimensions of parenting.

Today, researchers often identify four distinct parenting styles characterized by how parents interact and nurture their children.

Experts believe the authoritative style, typified by high expectations, strong communication, warmth, and ample support, is the best approach to parenting children. Kids raised by authoritative parents tend to be happier, exhibit better self-regulation, and have stronger social skills.

Developmental psychology topics have provided a wealth of research on children’s cognitive growth, impacting instructional practices and strategies. Theories of constructivism, for example, have helped teachers and educational designers better understand how children actively construct meaning about the world around them.

Those working in health care fields are generally required to complete at least one course on developmental psychology topics as part of their education. By better understanding the basics of human development, healthcare providers can be better equipped to help their patients and improve health outcomes.

Neonatal nurses, for example, can use their understanding of infant health and safety to educate new parents about how to best care for their newborns. Those working with elderly patients can empathize with their psychological and physical concerns and provide services that contribute to the best possible palliative care as these individuals face serious health issues.

Developmental psychology is not just a topic of concern to psychologists and researchers, it is a topic that touches on many other fields ranging from education to healthcare. By discovering more about how children grow and how adults age, we can better understand people and their challenges at all life stages.

Baumrind, D. (1967). Child care practices anteceding three patterns of preschool behavior. Genetic Psychology Monographs, 75(1), 43-88.

Erikson, E.H. (1963). Childhood and Society. (2nd ed.). New York: Norton.

Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind in Society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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50+ Research Topics for Psychology Papers

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."

developmental psychology research topics 2022

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

developmental psychology research topics 2022

  • Specific Branches of Psychology
  • Topics Involving a Disorder or Type of Therapy
  • Human Cognition
  • Human Development
  • Critique of Publications
  • Famous Experiments
  • Historical Figures
  • Specific Careers
  • Case Studies
  • Literature Reviews
  • Your Own Study/Experiment

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.

I can always tell when a student really cares about the topic they chose; it comes through in the writing. My advice is to choose a topic that genuinely interests you, so you’ll be more motivated to do thorough research.

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.

Research Topics Within Specific Branches of Psychology

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 .

What This Means For You

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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The top 10 journal articles of 2022

APA’s 89 journals published more than 5,500 articles in 2022. Here are the top 10 most read

Vol. 54 No. 1 Print version: page 26

graphic representation of people choosing reaction emojis to social media posts

1. Like this meta-analysis: Screen media and mental health

Ferguson, C. J., et al.

This meta-analysis in Professional Psychology: Research and Practice (Vol. 53, No. 2) suggests that exposure to screen time, including smartphones and social media, is not linked to mental health issues in adults or children. Researchers analyzed 37 data sets from 33 separate studies published between 2015 and 2019. They found no evidence that screen media contributes to suicidal ideation or other negative mental health outcomes. This result was also true when specifically investigating the use of smartphones or social media, and it was not affected by participants’ age or ethnicity. DOI: 10.1037/pro0000426

2. Conceptual and design thinking for thematic analysis

Braun, V., & Clarke, V.

Thematic analysis (TA) is a method used in qualitative research to examine themes or patterns of meaning within a data set, with the goal of answering a specific research question. This paper in Qualitative Psychology (Vol. 9, No. 1) aims to bolster researchers’ conceptual and design thinking when using TA to produce more methodologically sound results. Useful guidance includes best practices on research questions, data collection, participant/data item selection strategy and criteria, ethics, and quality standards and practices. The authors also outline the three primary approaches to TA: coding reliability, codebook, and reflexive. The first two approaches involve sorting data into pre-identified themes, while in the third, coding precedes theme development, and themes are built from coded data. The article ends with guidance on reporting standards for reflexive TA. DOI: 10.1037/qup0000196

3. Doomscrolling during Covid -19: The negative association between daily social and traditional media consumption and mental health symptoms during the Covid -19 pandemic

Price, M., et al.

The Covid -19 pandemic triggered a remarkable rise in doomscrolling, the consumption of an excessive amount of negative news resulting in significant negative affect. This article in Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy (Vol. 14, No. 8) indicates that doomscrolling was associated with increased symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Researchers assessed the psychopathology of 61 participants in the United States and asked them to track depression and PTSD symptoms and pandemic-related media consumption over 30 days in spring 2020. They found that an increase in social media use (but not traditional media use) was associated with more depression and PTSD symptoms, particularly in participants with a history of childhood maltreatment. Additionally, participants with more severe baseline psychopathology consumed more social media during this period. DOI: 10.1037/tra0001202

4. A comparison of emotion-focused therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder: Results of a feasibility randomized controlled trial

Timulak, L., et al.

This study in Psychotherapy (Vol. 59, No. 1) indicates that emotion-focused therapy (EFT) may be as effective as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in treating generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Researchers randomly assigned 58 participants in Ireland with a GAD diagnosis to 16 to 20 sessions of either EFT or CBT, which were run by eight therapists trained in both therapies. The researchers assessed participants at baseline, week 16, the end of therapy, and 6 months after the end of therapy. Dropout from treatments was 10% for EFT and 27% for CBT. The two therapies showed large pre-to-post changes and similar outcomes across all measures, with the benefits of both lasting through the 6-month follow-up. Overall, the findings suggest that EFT is a potentially promising treatment for GAD, broadening the range of treatment choices available for this condition. DOI: 10.1037/pst0000427

5. Looking through a filtered lens: Negative social comparison on social media and suicidal ideation among young adults

Spitzer, E. G., et al.

This study in Psychology of Popular Media (online first publication) suggests that young adults who feel bad about themselves after comparing themselves with others on social networking sites such as Instagram and Facebook are more likely to contemplate suicide. Researchers surveyed 456 undergraduate students in the United States about their social media use as well as incidents of negative social comparison, suicidal ideation, and thwarted belongingness. They found an association between negative social comparison on social networking sites and suicidal ideation. Furthermore, on Instagram, the relationship between thwarted belongingness and suicidal ideation was stronger among those with high levels of negative social comparison. DOI: 10.1037/ppm0000380

6. Associations between young adults’ social media addiction, relationship quality with parents, and internalizing problems: A path analysis model

White-Gosselin, C.-É., & Poulin, F.

Young adults with social media addiction symptoms are more likely to be anxious and depressed and have worse relationships with their parents, indicates this study in the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science (online first publication). Researchers asked 435 young adults in Canada with a median age of 19 to report their symptoms of anxiety, depression, and the quality of their relationships with their mothers and fathers (along the dimensions of conflict, satisfaction, and equality). The researchers found that the level of participants’ social media addiction was associated with high conflict, low satisfaction, and low equality with their fathers, and high conflict and low equality with their mothers. Furthermore, social media addiction was linked to symptoms of anxiety and depression. Finally, anxiety and depression exacerbated the negative impacts of social media addiction on conflict, satisfaction, and equality with participants’ mothers, as well as conflict and satisfaction with their fathers. DOI: 10.1037/cbs0000326

7. On the outside looking in: Social media intensity, social connection, and user well-being: The moderating role of passive social media use

Roberts, J. A., & David, M. E.

This study in the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science (online first publication) suggests that intense social media use is sometimes linked with a weaker sense of social connection and well-being. In the first of three studies with 146 participants in the United States, researchers found that passive engagement (viewing social media but not regularly posting or interacting through the platform) was associated with less social connection and lower well-being. The second study with 80 participants revealed that the interaction between heavy social media use (across 11 social media platforms) and consistently passive use of these platforms was linked with lower perceived social connection and, subsequently, higher stress. In the third study, with 160 participants, the researchers manipulated the amount of social media use (heavy versus light) and type of social media use (passive versus active) and found that heavy social media use had a negative impact on social connection when used passively but a positive effect when used actively. DOI: 10.1037/cbs0000323

8. Effects of a statewide pre-kindergarten program on children’s achievement and behavior through sixth grade

Durkin, K., et al.

According to this study in Developmental Psychology (Vol. 58, No. 3) , children who attended a state-funded pre-K program were doing worse by the end of sixth grade than peers who did not attend a pre-K program. Researchers randomly assigned 2,990 children from low-income families who applied to pre-K program sites across Tennessee in 2009 and 2010 to an offer of admission or a waiting list control. State education records showed that at the end of their first year, the children who went to pre-K scored higher on school readiness. However, by third grade, the pre-K children had lower math and science test scores than the control group. Moreover, at the end of sixth grade, the pre-K children were doing even worse, with lower math, science, and reading scores. They also were more likely to be in special education and were more likely to be suspended for behavioral issues. DOI: 10.1037/dev0001301

9. The role of childhood traumas, interpersonal problems, and contrast avoidance model in development of the generalized anxiety disorder: A structural equation modeling

Shafiei, M., et al.

The contrast avoidance model supposes that people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) unconsciously worry as a way to sustain a negative emotional state to avoid the discomfort that comes with shifting from positive or neutral states into a negative state. In this study in Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy (Vol. 14, No. 3) , researchers surveyed 457 participants in Iran with GAD and found that childhood trauma, interpersonal problems, and contrast avoidance of worry were all related to symptoms of GAD. Interpersonal problems and contrast avoidance of worry were able to directly predict symptoms of GAD. In addition, childhood trauma had an indirect effect on GAD by negatively influencing the relationship between interpersonal problems and contrast avoidance of worry. DOI: 10.1037/tra0001117

10. The continuing unfairness of death qualification: Changing death penalty attitudes and capital jury selection

Haney, C., et al.

To serve on a death penalty jury, potential jurors must declare under oath that they are willing to impose the death penalty. This study in Psychology, Public Policy, and Law (Vol. 28, No. 1) found numerous biases among such “death qualified” jurors. Researchers conducted in-depth surveys with a total of 1,792 representative individuals eligible for jury service in California, New Hampshire, and Florida. Despite differences in location, demographic makeup, and political ideology, the researchers observed very similar patterns of death-qualification bias. Specifically, they found that individuals whose death penalty attitudes qualified them to serve on a capital jury were more punitive overall, less well-informed about the processes involved in death sentencing, more willing to use aggravating factors to impose the death penalty, less willing to use mitigating factors to impose life in prison without the possibility of parole, and less racially diverse than people who would be unwilling to impose the death penalty. DOI: 10.1037/law0000335

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Psychology Research Paper Topics

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developmental psychology research topics 2022

Psychology is a science that requires much attention from a student. That is why writing an academic project on this subject can be challenging but also extremely interesting and rewarding. A great starting point of your work is choosing a research direction and narrowing it down to a more specific area. Psychology has numerous branches that touch upon varied issues. If it is difficult for you to make a choice, the lists with good psychology research topics provided by professional writers from  research paper writing service below will be of great use.

Social psychology research topics

Social psychology is a general psychology branch that studies a person’s behavior in society. It emerged in the middle of the 19 th century and was earlier regarded only as social philosophy. This scientific study stands out as a unique blend of sociology and psychology with features that cannot be attributed to any of these areas separately.

We spend most of our lives interacting with society, creating various groups: family, work teams, friends, sports clubs, etc. At the same time, these groups interact with other parties, both small and large. Understanding how this interaction is conducted is essential in resolving business, family, and national conflicts.

It is important to note that a group is not just a gathering of people. It can be described as several people united by one action. For example, if people witnessed an accident and stood together on the street, such a crowd would be considered a gathering. However, if they began helping injured people, they would form a temporary group united by one action.

Here is the list of psychology research topics related to this direction:

  • Problems of human social development
  • Infantilism as a social phenomenon
  • Typology of aggressive human behavior
  • A problem of social group development
  • Individual factors of the effective group management
  • Experience as a factor of social adaptation
  • The phenomena of interpersonal influence
  • Practical problems of communication optimization
  • Methods to overcome conflicts and stress
  • Conflict studying and diagnosis
  • Human behavior in a crowd
  • Psychology of mass communication
  • Person’s behavior under a group pressure
  • The role of attitudes and stereotypes in the mass communication process
  • Psychological, linguistic, and social barriers in mass communication
  • Combining verbal and non-verbal communication
  • Ways to attract and retain attention in mass communication
  • The role of media in propaganda and agitation
  • Rumors and prejudices in PR-activities
  • Psychological aspects of manipulation
  • An image of ideal advertising in various ethnic and cultural groups

Developmental psychology research topics

Developmental psychology focuses on changes that occur as a person grows up, and encompasses social, biological, and environmental factors influencing this process. It emerged in 1882 when Thierry William Preyer’s book The Soul of the Child was published. In the 20 th century, developmental psychology gained the status of a psychology branch.

Most developmental psychology research topics are devoted to childhood as it is a period of rapid growth, as well as the formation of attitudes and habits which may preserve until the old age. That is why many scholars and doctors believe that most psychological problems appear during one’s early years.

When choosing developmental psychology topics for a research paper, you can dwell on one of the most important questions in this field:

  • The problem of antisocial behavior in children
  • Primary school student’s response to conflict
  • The role of temperament in student’s academic success
  • The problem of retaining the attention of elementary school students
  • Moral values of primary school students

Here are also some good developmental psychology research paper topics for college students which may interest you:

  • Communication of children with adults during playing and learning activities
  • How cartoons and feature films influence the behavior of primary school students
  • Games and cognitive development at an early age
  • Individual features of younger students’ cognitive processes
  • Studying adolescent subculture
  • The role of assessment and marks in forming student’s self-esteem
  • Causes of deviant behavior in adolescence
  • Communication with peers and aggressiveness level in adolescence
  • An adolescent group structure
  • Features of forming self-consciousness in preschool age
  • Developing imagination and creativity in childhood period
  • A psychological portrait of a non-sociable child, aggressive child, or dependent child

We hope that this article turned out to be useful and simplified the choice of research topics in psychology. If you face some difficulties when performing an academic assignment, do not hesitate to ask professionals from for assistance. We are always ready to lend a helping hand!

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    Here is the list of psychology research topics related to this direction: Problems of human social development. Infantilism as a social phenomenon. Typology of aggressive human behavior. A problem of social group development. Individual factors of the effective group management.