How to Write a Psychology Report
Psychologists associate the phrase “psychology report” with two different actions: first, with making a diagnosis of a given person; and second, with carrying out a definite experiment and presenting its results. Here we shall refer to the latter type of the paper, which should be defined as a piece of research focused on a given psychological process.
Experiments in psychology differ widely: they could concern social behavior, personal disorders, brain activity, and many others. As you see, writing a psychology report is not an easy task, therefore you need to be well-prepared and trained for writing such a paper. Throughout the whole process of performing the experiment or observation, and writing the analytical part of it, you need to stay in touch with your instructor as well as with your teammates (unless the assignment is strictly individual, which happens rarely). Now let’s turn to some instructions regarding how to write a psychology report:
Understand your assignment
If this is your first psychology report, you will probably be worried that you do not have the required knowledge. For that reason it is recommended to attend all of your classes and ask questions every time you do not understand a particular theory, topic, or idea presented by the professor. Likewise, after the assignment has been announced, speak with your instructor in order to clarify the following: topic, time framework, and methodology. What you need to elaborate by yourself is the theoretical framework of the paper.
This is the theoretical basis of your experiment. In order to perform it, you have to elaborate your own hypothesis, and try to prove it. Keep in mind that experiments are never conducted per se, but are carried out only within a definite context. That means, there is a particular problem which should be solved under particular circumstances. Hence, you should pick up a particular stance here, by basing your hypothesis on some theory. Do not go too much into detail - you should simply read a few academic articles or book chapters.
Conducting the experiment
Well, it could be also observation. Remember that we have an experiment when we are able to manage or modify the situation. Observation is when we are not involved in any sense, but we merely observe the occurring process. In both cases, you should prepare your methodology so as to take into account all possible factors and determinants. You could, for instance, analyze the changes in behavior of a group of children by playing them a definite type of music - they become more relaxed, or more nervous. In order to do this, you should know the factors which influence behavior - personal interests, needs, preferences, mood, etc.; do not forget also that people “play” a given role while being observed (if they know it). These all are factors. Do not forget after the experiment to have personal interviews with some of the participants in order to compare their opinion with what you have noticed.
Select necessary information
Not all the information you have gained from the experiment is useful in your case. You should select only a part of it, which is related to the topic. However, you should keep all the data, in case that someone else is interested in what you have done.
In brief, you have to present the information as follows:
- Definition of the problem.
- Theoretical framework - your hypothesis and the theory which you adhere to.
- Methodology of the experiment or observation, including place, time and participants.
- Description of the experiment itself.
- Results from the experiment.
- Your interpretation. Did the experiment confirm your hypothesis?
- Reliability of the data - have you taken into account all possible factors? May be there are some that you have dismissed?
The length of the paper varies widely, but it could be between 8 and 12 pages, for example. Having finished it, do not forget to revise it again and check consistency between your hypothesis and the final interpretation. Whether you will have an excellent grade or not, don’t worry - this is your small contribution to science!
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