A. Review the possible research areas
You may already have specific areas of research in mind, or perhaps you are not sure at all; either way you need to do some pre-reading on the many topics that fall under the umbrella of psychological research to get an idea of where your research might head. This is a great way to get an overview of what is happening in the area currently, and to identify possible gaps in the literature that could form the rationale for your project. Below is a list and short description of the various topics that are you may be able to study as part of your psychology research.
Please note: options may vary depending on your enrolled course so you may wish to check with your course coordinator for the specific topics available.
The human brain undergoes massive developmental change from infancy to early adulthood underpinning learning. The consequences of disruption to neurodevelopment can be dramatic, as exemplified by the host of clinical conditions that are marked by a failure to attain appropriate cognitive, social or brain developmental milestones. Research in this area seeks to understand how individual differences in genetics or environment might influence the development of traits such as inattention or impulsivity and their associated neural correlates.
Addiction and personality
Substance dependence, problem gambling and excessive eating are common examples of addictions with high personal impact and societal costs. Individual differences in brain networks relevant to reward/punishment learning, cognitive control and decision-making predict vulnerability to addiction, and continued exposure to drugs and other powerful incentives. Therefore, research in this area seeks to understand how the core processes of reward/punishment learning, cognitive control and decision-making contribute to vulnerability to addiction, to shape different forms of addiction and to influence recovery from addiction.
Cognition and emotion
Research in this area seeks to understand the processes underpinning human thoughts and behaviour through assessing various factors such as attention, memory, executive abilities, decision-making and emotional regulation.
Psychology online (learning, interventions, resources)
Psychology research and teaching conducted online is a new and innovative area in which continued developments are always occurring. Evaluations of research and learning that is managed through online platforms allows us to understand the advantages of using new technology, optimising future learning and clinical tools.
The study of aged individuals with and without disease is becoming ever more significant as we live longer. This area aims to understand brain-behaviour relationships in both healthy ageing and in individuals with neurodegenerative disorders including Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Freidriech ataxia, FXTAS (Fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome), and other associated dementias.
Business Psychology is an applied science that investigates how to make people and organisations more effective. It uses social scientific research methods to study people, workplaces and organisations in order to better align their multiple and sometimes competing needs.
Gender and sexuality
Sexual attraction and gender identity is a highly complex phenomenon, and can be as much psychological as biological. Research in this field seeks to understand what contributes to someone's perception of sexuality and what difficulties are faced when these are in conflict.
Grief and loss
Grief is associated with losing something that is important and can encompass a range of feelings and behaviours as it is experienced in very individual ways. Research in this field is committed to learning more about peoples’ experiences of bereavement and their needs to better inform the support services that are provided to them.
Population health research is the investigation and analysis of factors that influence the health status of population groups, or whole populations, as well as the testing and evaluation of policies and interventions to improve population health outcomes. It includes research for problem definition, solution generation, and evaluation. It includes primary data collection and analysis, analysis of existing data, and systematic reviews of research.
Positive psychology is the scientific study of human flourishing, and an applied approach to optimal functioning. It has also been defined as the study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals, communities and organisations to thrive. Research in this area seeks to better understand how positive psychology can be integrated into clinical approaches and our everyday life.
This area involves research that aims to investigate the contribution of sleep regulatory processes on waking function, health and safety. Research in this field can span the molecular/genetic to behavioural levels and can study a range of populations, from young adults with normal sleep patterns for the study of normal physiology, to the elderly, people with sleep disorders, clinical populations with co-morbid sleep disturbances, and those exposed to altered sleep health, such as shift workers.
Mindfulness and well-being
Mindfulness and meditation are continuously being integrated into clinical practice and can provide valuable tools for individuals to optimise their functioning and enhance their well-being. Research in this field seeks to better understand how mindfulness can be incorporated into everyday practice, and the numerous benefits it can bring to individuals.