Section 1: Before you formulate your research question, it is important to consider your research interests as you will be spending the remainder of the course on this project. Below are some considerations to remember along the way:
- If you feel stumped trying to make connections between your interests and associated key terms, it might indicate that you would have difficulty doing the literature review for your paper. Remember that you will be searching online databases to find previously published studies related to your area of interest.
- No project can answer every question about a particular topic. We will address this further throughout this activity.
Before you start to narrow it down, the goal is for you to think as broadly and openly about your personally and professionally relevant psychological interests. If there were no constraints and you could investigate anything in the field of psychology, what would you choose?
Step 1: Brainstorm
Using the table below, list at least 10 psychologically relevant topics or terms that interest you. They do not need to be listed in rank order (from most to least interested). Just write them down as they occur to you.
- Kids and cell phones
- Athletic performance
- Relationships between parents and kids
My Psychological Interests Worksheet
Step 2: Prioritize
Now, choose three of the topics that you believe are the most personally or professionally relevant to where you are at this stage of your life or academic career. Use the space below to provide your rationale for your choices.
Interest 1: Kids and cell phones
Reason for Interest 1: I am currently interested in looking into the effects of kids using cell phones because I see a lot of conflicting information in popular media. I would like to really investigate what psychological research has found. Specifically, I am interested in how using cell phones at an early age impacts a child’s relationship with his or her parent(s). Does it make the child feel safer that he or she has a way to get in touch with his or her parents quickly? Do parents see more behavioral problems in their children if they give them a cell phone too soon? In addition, I am currently raising children who might have cell phones in a few years, so I am invested in the potential answers from a personal perspective.
Reason for Interest 1:
Reason for Interest 2:
Reason for Interest 3:
Step 3: Psychological Alignment
If you have not perused your textbooks from prior courses in a while, it might be helpful to do so for this assignment (as well as throughout this class). For each of the interests you have listed above, identify at least two subfields of psychology that could connect with your chosen interest. This will help as you formulate concrete questions and hypotheses for investigation on the following pages.
Here’s an example:
Step 4: Refining the Topic
Switching gears now from brainstorming, the name of the game by the end of this unit is to narrow down the scope of your project. Some students want to research everything there is about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), for example, and prove how they can eradicate symptoms for everyone suffering this condition. This sounds like a noble goal, right?
- Are they researching the historical treatment of this condition? How far back in time?
- Who are all of the prior researchers associated with PTSD; what study did they conduct, and did they have successful outcomes in every case?
- Is the focus military specific, or are we evaluating trauma stemming from other sources?
- Are particular age ranges or ethnicities part of the research?
- How is PTSD currently defined, and is this correct? Who makes that choice?
- What are all the symptoms, and how can we prove they are not caused by another condition?
- What is the final outcome of gathering this information? Are the findings applicable to everyone or a particular subset of PTSD sufferers?
The above example is not meant to scare you but, rather, to illustrate how broad one single diagnosis within the field can be. If you find yourself writing “Fix PTSD” or “Describe how eyes work” on the following pages then be aware that further refining is needed.
Section 4: Propose two research questions based on your topics and interests from your work above.
Research Question 1
Research Question 2
Propose a purpose for each of your research questions. (Remember that we need a reason to do all of this reading and research.) The research purpose is designed to explain the possible outcomes of the research. How could this be applied to help people? Or how could this benefit humans in general?
Research Question 1
Research Question 2
Propose a scientific hypothesis for each of your research questions. Remember this is a statement of what you would expect to find after conducting a study. Keep in mind that in order to be a scientific hypothesis, it should be something that can be supported or refuted through careful experimentation.
Section 5: Now comes the hard part. You have explored your interests, developed and refined questions, and proposed measurable hypotheses for further study. Perhaps they are very closely related and can both be used for this project. If not, you (or your professor) will have to choose. Provide your best hypothesis for the course project below.
Research Project Hypothesis:
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