How to Write a Psychology Essay

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Writing a psychology essay can be daunting, because of the constant changes in understanding and differing perspectives that exist in the field. However, if you follow our tips and guidelines you are guaranteed to produce a first-class, high quality psychology essay.

Types of Psychology essay

Psychology essays can come in a range of formats:

  • Compare and contrast.
  • Evaluation
  • Discussive

For example:

  • Compare the benefits of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with psychoanalysis on patients with schizophrenia.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of family therapy for children of drug addicts.
  • CBT is the most effective form of treatment for those struggling with mental illness. Discuss

Once you understand what is being asked of you, and thus the focus of your essay, you can move on to identifying how to structure your work. In all cases the broad structure is similar – an introduction – body section and conclusion. Furthermore, in all cases, your work, and any statements you make should be made using only verifiable, credible sources that should be referenced clearly at the end of your work. To support you in delivering a premium psychology essay, we have indicated a general structure for you to follow.

Introduction

The most important thing about your introduction is it just that. An introduction. It should be short, captivating and hook your reader into wanting to carry on. A good introduction introduces a few key points about the topic so that the reader knows the subject of your paper and its background.

You should also include a thesis statement which describes your intent and perspective on the matter. The statement comes from first identifying a question you wish to ask, for example, “how does CBT differ from psychoanalysis in treating schizophrenics”. This will then enable you to identify a clear statement such as “CBT is more effective in treating schizophrenics than psychoanalysis”. In effect, a captivating introduction sets out what you will be saying in your essay, clearly, concisely, and objectively.

Body of the Essay

The body of the essay is where you make all your relevant points and undertake a dissection of the central themes of your work in the topic area. Note when undertaking a compare and contrast essay it is a good practice to indicate all the similarities and then the differences to ensure a smooth coherent flow.

For each point you make, use a separate paragraph, and ensure that any statements you make are backed up by credible evidence and properly referenced sources. In an evaluation essay, you should indicate the analysis undertaken to make the judgement you have, again backed by credible sources. Discussive psychology essays require you to state your point and then debate it with pros and cons for each side.

Overall, in the body section, you body text should be focused on providing valuable insights and evaluation of the topic and enable you to demonstrate deductive reasoning (“as a result of x… it can be indicated that”) and evidence based analysis (“although x indicates that y, a suggests an alternative view based on…”). Following a logical flow with one point per paragraph ensures the reader is able to follow your thinking process and eventually draw the same conclusions.

Furthermore, it is important when writing a psychology essay to examine a wide range of sources, that cover both sides of a topic or phenomenon. Without demonstrating a wide-ranging knowledge of the diversity of perspectives, you cannot be objective in evaluating a subject area.

In addition, you should recognise that not all your readers may be familiar with psychological terms or acronyms so these need to be explained briefly and concisely the first time they are used. Furthermore, you should avoid definitive statements, because psychology is constantly evolving so do not use phrases such as “this proves…”, instead use terms such as “this is consistent with work by…” or “this supports x’s view that…”. It is also not appropriate to use the first person (“I”), even when expressing opinions, always use the third person and where possible the past tense.

Conclusion

As with the introduction, the conclusion should hold the reader, and crystallise all the arguments and points made into an overall summation of your views. This summation should be in line with your thesis statement which has to be restated here and leave no room for unanswered questions. Your aim is to reaffirm that the points you have made in your body text sum up and provide a clear answer to the task of the psychology essay – whether this compare and contrast, discussion, or evaluation.

Key Phrases for a Psychology Essay

  • Previous work in the area has suggested that…
  • However, prior studies did not consider…
  • In this paper it is therefore argued that…
  • The significance of this view is that…
  • In light of this indication, there is a potential that…
  • In order to understand x, it is necessary to also recognise that…
  • Similarly, it has been suggested that…
  • Furthermore, additional evidence from x indicates that…
  • Conversely, x suggests that…
  • Similarly, the indications from … are that…
  • That being said, it is also evident that…

 

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