Research Paper about current research and theory on a topic relevant to social psychology

Research Paper
You will develop acc. It’s not exactly a report, it’s not exactly a summary, and it’s certainly not an opinion paper. The Research Paper must be grounded in the empirical literature of psychology that would serve as a primer for someone interested in what social psychologists have to say about the chosen topic.

Choosing a Topic
In choosing your topic, try and pick something you find interesting. If nothing relevant to the class immediately springs to mind, page through the table of contents of your text; certainly something there strikes your fancy. Do a little reading and see if there’s a topic you can pull out of the material. In the unlikely and unfortunate event that you can’t find anything interesting in the class material, you’ll either need to email me or try to find some way to link the material from class to an area you are interested in (see integrative below).

Choosing a Style

These kinds of papers are written on topics where there is a lot of research and you don’t have an argument per se, but instead are trying to describe the whole (or at least a significant portion of) topic area. Your task in this kind of paper is to organize all the information you have in as clear a way as possible. If you wanted, say, to write on the effects of leadership in the workplace for an I/O paper, you might break your paper into sections dealing with operational definitions of leadership, leadership’s effects on job performance, leadership’s effects on employee morale, and the interaction of leadership styles with particular work environments. Each subsection would be fairly independent, although you would have to explain why you chose those sections in your introductory paragraphs.


In this type of paper, you are acknowledging a difference of theories, findings, or interpretations in the research literature and attempting to portray the different sides of the argument as clearly as possible. Your task here is to highlight points of difference in a broad sense, and to note exactly what those differences mean in terms of your topic area. If you were writing a paper on gender, for example, you would be saying how the same basic concept is thought to originate from primarily from either biological or social influences, and after establishing the theory and supporting evidence for these two viewpoints, noting how some of the data from the biological side (e.g.; toy preference across culture and species) can’t easily be explained by the other, and vice-versa. You want to be sure to establish the argument solidly, though you aren’t necessarily expected to solve it. If the literature comes down strongly on one side, though, be sure to mention that.


This type of paper is typically written when one is faced either with very little research in a particular area (not often the case) or is trying to apply concepts/findings from psychology to an area not directly related. The challenge here is to clearly establish and argue for that connection using both logic (somewhat) and the social psychology research literature (mostly). If you wanted to write a paper, for example, based on the notion that cognitive deficits in older adults affect their relationship with children, you would need to make a logical argument (e.g.; when older adults seem to have trouble relating to children’s experiences, it tends to be when novel stimuli are involved) and back that up with research from the area (e.g.; studies showing deficits in working memory or fluid intelligence, studies where children describe what they like about their grandparents, etc.).

Once you’ve chosen your topic, you will begin work on your Research Paper Proposal, due in Week 3. Learn more about this assignment in the next tab.

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