Psychology Essay Writing Tips

Most college and University students do not understand that writing compelling psychology essays is time-consuming and a serious assignment, just like a dissertation. The only difference is the scale of writing. We are sure that after reading this psychology essay writing guide, you will craft an interesting and informative essay.

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Through my lived educational experience in my undergraduate and post-graduate years, I realized that writing a good psychology essay demands that you understand how to integrate theories, empirical evidence, and critical analyses cohesively. Therefore, in this guide, I will share key tips that helped me write essays and maintain a 3.8 GPA.

However, if after reading the whole guide, you cannot craft your essay, you can seek help from our experts.

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 Preliminary Steps to Psychology Essay Writing

Step 1: Before embarking on the journey of writing a psychology essay, it is crucial that you conduct an in-depth analysis of the essay question and try to understand it.

Step 2: Conduct extensive reading using the lecture notes and other materials.  At this level, nobody expects you to have a nuanced understanding of everything, but just negeral idea of the topic.

Step 3: After you have done some basic reading, develop a plan to respond to the task. Having a plan will help you to not veer-off from the topic and also acts as the foundation for your essay.

Step 4: After you have drafted your plan, conduct more reading, refine the plan and add more details to it.

It is extremely tempting to skip the stipulated steps and simultaneously write your first draft as you read. However, reading and planning will make writing your psychology essay easier.

Components of a Good Psychology Essay

Now, let us shift our focus to the must-have or must-know components of a good psychology essay. There are multiple essential features.

  • Global Structure: You essay should have a logical flow of ideas. Each of the paragraphs or statement should be sensibly linked to the preceding one. All the parts of your essay, such as the introduction, body and conclusion, should be connected.
  • Every paragraph should have an independent idea that is illustrated and developed using solid evidence.
  • Knowledge and understanding. Your essay should illustrate the ability to recall, recognise and understand multiple scientific materials that have multiple perspectives.
  • Critical Evaluation. Support your arguments with the most credible sources of evidence. The reader should easily point out independent thinking, insight as well as evaluation of evidence.
  • Quality of Written Communication. There should be evidence of professional communication in the paragraphs without typos and grammatical errors. It is important to acknowledge the sources using in-text citations and references for any content that is quoted, paraphrased or summarised.

In the body of your psychology essay, it is essential that you demonstrate both knowledge and critical evaluation. Most of the students make the mistake of demonstrating huge chunks of knowledge devoid of critical evaluation, which is the most important.

The structure of your psychology essay should be based on the major themes. Themes are usually developed using evidence, and in this guide, we recommend the use of peer-reviewed scholarly sources.

   Knowledge and Understanding

An essay is a discussion or argument on paper. Therefore, students should refrain from pouring all the information that they have in relation to a certain paper.

Notably, clarity and conciseness of the argument is crucial. Avoid filler content, such as unnecessary words in a sentence or paragraphs with sentences that do not add to the development of the main idea.

Avoid overusing quotations in essays. It is essential to employ original content to showcase your understanding.

As mentioned at the beginning of this guide, psychology is a science, meaning that ideas should be supported with evidence. For example, when discussing a theory or research study, ensure that you cite your sources of information. Bear in mind that this is not the author of a textbook that you have read but the original author (s) or source of the theory or research study.

For example:

Bowlby (1951) argued that mothering plays an essential role in early childhood development, especially in the first three years and can be less useful if delayed for more than 12 months.

Generally, based on the length of the paragraph, there should be at least two in-text citations from different sources.

Critical Evaluation of Sources for Your Psychology Essay

The information presented in this section of the guidelines is grounded on the wisdom and advice garnered from multiple researchers, teachers, and students whose contributions have been instrumental in understanding the tenets of a good psychology essay. One of the most important steps in learning to write a good psychology essay is reading sources critically. The rationale behind it includes:

  1. Crafting well-written essays requires you to be well-informed of the subject matter.
  2. Training yourself to identify the strengths and weaknesses of other people’s writing, such as dissertations, theses, methodologies, and conclusions, will have a ripple effect by enabling you to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your psychology essays.

The rationale behind researchers writing review papers, theoretical papers, or reports of empirical studies is to support a certain point of view.  As you write your psychology essay, you are more likely to adopt their point of view if they have backed it with sufficient evidence. As you write your essay, it is essential to consider the quality and quantity of evidence that a source uses to support their argument.

Furthermore, you should consider the following:

  • Implicit or explicit bias of the author
  • Soundness and rigor of the methodology
  • Appropriateness of the statistical analysis
  • If there is a matching of the strength of the conclusions with that of evidence.

In the following section of these guidelines, we will help you make these determinations regarding the quality of evidence, which will find useful in reading sources critically for developing persuasive arguments in your next psychology essay.

Find out if the Information Source is Credible

You should bear in mind that evidence in psychology is not like other disciplines. Unlike psychology, in such disciplines as humanities and social sciences, logic and rhetoric are the major forms of evidence. However, in psychology, empirical research findings are what constitutes evidence. Data is only evidence if it has been evaluated using a hypothesis. Empirical data stems from observation and experimentation under controlled conditions. On the other hand, opinions are people’s convictions and beliefs, which may or may not be based on controlled observations and can sometimes contradict properly collected data.

Consider the Quantity of Evidence

Besides analyzing the type of evidence, a writer has employed, there is a need to determine the amount of evidence that a writer has used. As you are considering the empirical evidence and scholarly articles to use as evidence for your argument, it is common to find a significant number of empirical studies that report contradictory results.

This explains why replication of results is essential in psychology. For example, converging evidence from many studies or multiple measures having the same results is more convincing in stark contrast to contradictory findings. A scholar can present contradictory findings, but the preponderance of presented data should support their conclusions.

For more information on checking the quality of evidence, click here.

Write Your Psychology Essay

Develop the structure and transitions/signposting for your essay. After you have decided what you want to communicate to your readers, there is need to determine how to structure your argument to ensure that readers are not confused on how you reached your conclusion. The major components that guide structure of an essay include an annotated bibliography and outline.

Annotated Bibliography

What is an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography denotes a list of the references that you will use in your essay which is followed by a one or two paragraphs description whose role is to describe and evaluate the source.

Importance of writing Annotated Bibliography Before You Start Your Essay

The skills which are gained in writing an annotated bibliography are instrumental in saving time and speeds up the process of integrating sources in your essay.

The first step before starting to write your psychology essay, we recommend that you develop an annotated bibliography. Every article that your review is akin to a different piece of a puzzle, meaning that creating an annotated bibliography can assist you to decide how to piece them together.

Construct your annotated bibliography by:

  1. Listing the full end-text type of reference.
  2. Construct a summary of the article by describing:
  • The aim of the article and the type of participants
  • The main methodology or conceptual framework
  • The authors, more specifically, if they are an authority in the field.
  • The audience for the article who can be specialists or stakeholders in that field.
  • The main argument that is made in the article.
  • Provide a brief justification on why you need to include each of the articles in your psychology essay.

Examples of Annotated Bibliography

Example 1 

Gottlieb, P. D. (1995). The “golden egg” as a natural resource: Toward a normative theory of growth management. Society and Natural Resources, 8 (5), 49-56.

This article explains the dilemma faced by North American suburbs, which demand both preservation of local amenities (to protect quality of life) and physical development (to expand the tax base). Growth management has been proposed as a policy solution to this dilemma. An analogy is made between this approach and resource economics. The author concludes that the growth management debate raises legitimate issues of sustainability and deficiency.

Example 2 

Roof, J. (2006). Working gender: Fading taxonomies [Electronic version]. Genders On-line Journal, 44. http://www. /g44_roof.html.

Judith Roof’s article takes as a point of departure the proliferation of television programs in which themes of transformation and ‘making-over’ (of one’s house, lifestyle or body) are presented. Roof argues that the ubiquity of these programs (which present work as spectacle, which couple identity and commodities, and which emphasise categories and order) indicates a deeper cultural anxiety about the instability of taxonomies, in particular the gender binary. Gender is the focus of the section of the article that discusses ‘make- over’ programs in which a subject ‘scarred by some gender unintelligibility’, in Roof’s words, is transformed into a normative ideal of their gender by cosmetic surgery, diet, exercise regimes, make-up and wardrobe. Interestingly, such programs, which represent ‘gender conformity’ as both commodity and cure-all, also foreground the ‘work’ that the normatively gendered body requires to maintain itself. The repetition of these narratives of metamorphosis into the gender norm, she suggests, are a compensatory mechanism, a staving off of the notion of fluid, hybrid and multiple genders, a strident reassertion of the gender binary. Although my research will focus on texts of an entirely different genre and era (and thus the analysis of make-over programs themselves is of little utility to my project) Roof provides a useful theoretical framework for a discussion of fin-de-siecle cultural anxiety about the fluidity of identity.

Develop an Outline for Your Essay.

  • When creating your outline, it might be easier to imagine that are conversing with a friend and explaining to them the rationale behind the agenda you are advancing in your essay.
  • What is the main point that you will present to convince your friend to your standpoint?
  • Do you have evidence to support the assertion?
  • How would you explain or counter competing evidence and arguments?
  • Keep crafting your imaginary conversation with your friend to the point of completion of your outline.

As you are constructing your outline, consider how you will stitch together the various points. Stitching necessitates you to make it clear how each point is related to the preceding one. This is usually achieved using transitional words, phrases and signposting.  Take some time to ponder in depth the logic of your argument when writing the outline.

Since the APA guidelines encourage the use of headings and subheadings in your various psychology essays, the outlines are an indispensable practice when crafting your paper. Note that you can employ the main points and supporting points in your outline as headings and subheadings for your final paper.

Writing Psychology Essay: Introduction, Body and Conclusion

psychology essay writing structure

How to Write a Psychology Essay Introduction

In the introduction section of your psychology essay:

  • Provide the topic of the paper, its purpose as well as your position when possible.
  • Communicate the context.
  • Inform the reader what they should expect to read in the body.
  • You can define key terms.
  • Show the thesis statement for your essay.
  • Explain how your essay will be structured in terms of order of points.

The Body of Your Psychology Essay

In this section, you further develop your argument by expanding on your main points.

How to Structure a Psychology Essay ParagraphIf you have already developed the annotated bibliography and the outline for your essay, here you simply joint the main points of logic that you have already developed. A well-developed body of an essay is dependent on your capacity to write clearly and present systematically the evidence collected to further your argument.

The quality of your essay will depend on the structure and transitioning of your ideas and proper word choice. We recommend the use of MEAL Plan tool when drafting paragraphs in the body of your psychology essay:

Main Idea

This is your topic sentence where you state the solid claim which the paragraph is advancing. It is the first sentence of your paragraph and helps your audience to come out of the paragraph with a clear understanding of the main idea.


This is the paragraph’s main course and helps you prove to the reader that your paragraph’s main idea is plausible. In psychology essays, evidence is usually information from, journal articles that are present in your library or data from research. Therefore, paraphrase from the empirical data or scholarly article material that you have decided to use in supporting your argument. Use such databases as PubMed, PsycINFO, Google Scholar,  Scopus to find scholarly articled related to your topic.


You should provide a few sentences explaining the evidence and the relevance in your own words. In a few sentences, explain why the evidence that have provided proves what you believe it proves.

Lead Out:

Provide a concluding or linking sentence.

How to Write a Conclusion for Psychology Essay

To write a strong conclusion for your psychology essay consider the following points:

  • Restate your main argument whereby you summarize the evidence which justifies it.
  • Never introduce new evidence
  • You can provide suggestions on what future research should focus on but at the same time, the suggestion should be based on the evidence that you have already reviewed.
  • If you are not sure what to write in the conclusion, read the essay question and answer it in one paragraph.

Revise Your Psychology Essay

It is common not to monitor your writing when you’re crafting your initial draft. Revision is indispensable in the writing process.  Specifically remember to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the paper clear? If it is possible, put your essay aside and come back after a few days and try to read it by pretending to be someone who knows nothing regarding the discussion topic. Ensure that every sentence is clear, and every paragraph makes a clear argument, and each section of your essay communicates your paper is understandable. Note the points that are not clear and revise them. You can have a friend your paper. You can also hire professional psychology essay writer to revise your work if you are in hurry.
  • Does your essay contain a logical flow of ideas? Add some stitching where appropriate. Offer some more background information if necessary. Check for grammatical and spelling errors. Grammatical and typing errors will reduce the overall quality of your psychology essay.
  • Is the essay succinct? As you go through your essay, remove any word, sentence or paragraph or section that does not contribute to furthering your main argument.

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