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10 Psychology Research Project Ideas for High School Students

Research OpportunitiesJordan Ellington

Do you ever find yourself lost in thought as to why certain individuals act the way that they do? Why are sudden behaviors triggered in one person yet, might have no effect on the next? If this sounds like you, it’s time to explore the field of psychology! Whether you’re eager to learn more about mental health, brain injuries & behavior, or child development, this could be the sign you’ve been needing to further inspect the world of psychology.

There are many different types of psychology, you just need to find the sector that identifies with you most. Check out this list of 10 research project ideas to help get you started! 

1) Social Connection and Physical Health

Type: Clinical Psychology 

Level: Beginner 

Both COVID-19 and isolation have been known to link to depression. If individuals do not have the social connection that they need, is there anything else that can take its place. . .  such as meditation? Work with your mentor to discover how social connection plays a role in our well-being.

Idea by mentor Kristen 

2) Curiosity

Type: General Psychology 

Level: Beginner 

What makes people tick or behave the specific way that they do? Are you curious to see how different individuals react to certain conditions that you set for them? Come up with a problem that you would like to resolve and work with your mentor to discover solutions! 

Idea by mentor Tanya 

3) How might family socioeconomic circumstances impact child development?

Type: Developmental Psychology 

Level: Beginner 

Does poverty play a role in a child's development? Work with your mentor to dive deeper into the understanding of parenting styles, home instability, local school quality, and more to understand the consequences that different environments could have on children.            

Idea by mentor Katrina

4) Im[migrant] Mental Health

Type: Behavioral Psychology  

Level: Intermediate 

Immigrants in the United States are forced to face many challenges each day. Whether it be due to language barriers, employment opportunities, or discrimination, the effects of this could put a strain on anyone's mental health.  Allow your mentor to guide you through the ins and outs of why immigrants are too afraid to speak up about their anxiety/fears and why there are health inequities in immigrant communities. 

Idea by Mentor Ayli 

5) Mental Illness in Media

Type: Clinical Psychology 

Level: Intermediate 

When portrayed in the media, mental illness is typically exaggerated. Because it is shown to be unpredictable and dangerous, many individuals do not have a good understanding of what mental illness even is. Let’s compare the different ways that movies portray mental illness and create a research paper or podcast around our findings. It’s time to help the world get a better understanding of what these diseases can look like. 

Idea by mentor Urveesha 

6) Green Exercise and Stress

Type: Exercise Psychology 

Level: Intermediate 

Have you ever noticed that you have a lot more energy after going for a jog outside? Maybe you were dealing with a wave of seasonal depression that seemed to get better after your gym session? Let’s unpack this and evaluate how physical activity actually impacts you on a psychological level. Do some research on trends that suggest why certain exercises in specific environments promote different benefits. 

Idea by mentor Daphne

7) Synchrony, Stress, and Psychology

Type: Environmental Psychology 

Level: Intermediate 

Is stress contagious? Work with your mentor to discover if an infant can pick up on a parent’s stress levels. Is this stress reciprocated? Work with your mentor to come up with a way to model the psychological activity between a  parent & child. Furthermore, understand the different ways that stress can impact brain development. 

Idea by mentor Stephen

8) Why do some individuals who undergo childhood trauma develop psychopathology, while others do not?

Type: Clinical Psychology 

Level: Advanced 

Unfortunately, childhood trauma typically goes hand in hand with a negative environmental circumstance. For example, as a child you could have been a victim of abuse, abandonment, or homelessness which has impacted who you are today. Research shows that childhood trauma plays a part in psychiatric disorders as an adult, however, all of the dots around this theory have not been connected. Work with this mentor to connect the dots and help identify those who are at high risk of developing these issues in the future.

Idea by mentor mentor Bailey

9) How to Develop Psychological Intervention

Type: Clinical Psychology 

Level: Advanced 

Are you passionate about finding a cure to anxiety? Depression? Self-Esteem? Choose any psychological target that speaks to you and design a plan for treatment.  Utilize behavioral observation to help inspire research ideas. Present facts on how your findings can play a positive role for the condition that you choose.  

Idea by mentor Rachel 

10) Let's play!

Type: Cognitive Psychology 

Level: Advanced 

If you’re interested in learning more about how the act of playing can contribute to a child’s social and emotional development, this project is for you. You would start by conducting a literature review to uncover the different levels of development throughout childhood. Based on your findings, you can go more into detail about how child’s play is related to the different developmental stages.  Go to any area where children are playing in order to evaluate how children within different age groups are interacting with one another.

Idea by mentor Ellyn 

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