Psychology essay examples

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Psychology Essay Example

Welcome to our comprehensive gallery of psychology essay example! Explore a rich assortment of meticulously crafted essays that unravel the complexities of human behavior, cognition, and mental processes. Dive into these insightful examples curated to inspire and enhance your understanding of psychology’s multifaceted realms.

The following are examples of psychology essays written by our team of professional essay writers.

Alcohol Addiction Screening Tools: Experiential Paper

In collaboration with state and Federal governments, the relevant public health stakeholders have developed interventions to control the increasing rates of alcohol abuse among youths and the underage in the United States (Ryan et al., 2019). As part of targeted campaigns to increase awareness among the youth concerning alcohol use disorder and its consequences, my friend, James (a pseudonym), and I conducted alcohol use disorder screening using two common tests: the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT) and the Michigan Alcohol Screening Test (MAST).

James scored nine in the AUDIT tool and four in the MAST tool, indicating the absence of alcohol use disorder but an increased predisposition to the effects of alcohol, such as violence and strained relationships with significant others due to his hazardous use of alcohol. The testing tools provided insights into the types of alcohol-related impairments existing in the spectrum of alcohol use disorder, the recommended interventions, and avenues for obtaining help from the public, which sensitized us more about the condition.

Tool Description 1

The AUDIT is a 10-question screening tool developed by the World Health Organization to detect alcohol use disorders and their severity (Sanchez-Roige et al., 2019). It is the most widely used screening tool due to its simplicity and few question items making it applicable in busy primary healthcare settings. This is the reason for its increased uptake. Besides identifying the underlying alcohol use disorder, the tool provides evidence-based interventions to reduce and quit alcohol use in those with risky or harmful drinking behavior (Sanchez-Roige et al., 2019).

The question items of the AUDIT tool target three main aspects of alcohol use, including its social, psychological, and legal consequences. The first three items inquire about the frequency and quantity of alcohol intake by an individual over the past year. Question items 4 – 6 aim to determine alcohol-related dependence behavior, such as loss of control over drinking, while items 7 – 10 target the social, physical, and psychological consequences of drinking (Khan et al., 2020).

Items 1 – 8 are scored on a five-point scale, with four being the highest point for a response and zero being the lowest. Items 9 – 10 are scored on a three-point scale, with zero as the lowest and four as the highest score (Sanchez-Roige et al., 2019). An overall score of above eight indicates hazardous alcohol use, while above 20 indicates an underlying dependence. Risky alcohol consumption is characterized by a score of above six for items 1 – 3, while the risk for alcohol dependence is diagnosed by a score of more than four for items 4 – 6, hence the categorization of alcohol consumption into hazardous, harmful, and dependent drinking (Khan et al., 2020).

Tool Description 2

MAST is a 25-item questionnaire used to screen for alcohol use disorder in adults and adolescents. The items contain yes/no responses that are assigned different marks depending on the nature of the question item (Minnich et al., 2019). The items target specific aspects of alcoholism, such as symptoms of excessive drinking; social, family, legal, and work-related problems at an individual level; concerns by others about a person’s drinking behavior; and attempts towards treatment and help made by the individual. The tool is among the oldest, with a high level of accuracy in screening individuals as alcoholics or non-alcoholics.

Depending on the version of MAST used, scores may range from 0 – 53, where a higher score indicates alcoholism or high risk for its development. Generally, scores between 0-3 suggest that the subject is non-alcoholic, while four is suggestive of early or moderate alcoholism, and above 5 indicates aggravated alcoholism (Minnich et al., 2019). However, it is vital to note that the results from the tool should be compared with others and that further assessment is required after conducting the survey.

Tool Administration 1

When interviewing James, I appreciated the importance of ongoing training on administering screening tools due to the challenges faced during implementation. It took time to discern whether he gave true or false responses regarding some question items that appeared to promote positive (desirable) responses. However, the session was successful, and I learned that James had hazardous or risky drinking behavior, showed by his AUDIT score of nine.


As Khan et al. (2020) reported, AUDIT is the most widely used of all screening tools in primary healthcare settings due to its short nature, as it only has ten questions. I spent approximately 10 minutes administering the tool and interpreting the results contrary to James’ expectations, and after a short duration, we learned that he was a hazardous drinker. The finding is consistent with those reported in the literature, which state that the AUDIT tool offers instantaneous results (Khan et al., 2020).

James had a hard time accepting he had a problem with alcohol use and refuted the results at one point. However, after a thorough analysis of the tool, I realized that the overall score is insignificant and that the domain scores were the most important; hence the tool’s ability to discriminate alcoholics as those with consumption, dependence, and behavioral problems adds to its strength. Despite an overall score of nine, James scored highly (five) in the behavioral domain, which made us understand that he had no consumption or dependence issues but displayed risky behavior after consumption which he agreed.


After conducting the interview, James refuted the results since he believed he had no problems with his drinking and was in control most time. However, after an explanation of the tool’s domains and the significance of the score domains, he agreed with the results. The finding shows that the tool is prone to misinterpretation and therefore needs expert guidance, especially when interpreting the results, which is its main weakness (Lange et al., 2019).

In addition to the overall score, AUDIT users must analyze the domain scores to make more sense of the results and successfully categorize themselves as hazardous, harmful, or dependent drinkers. Since the tool screens for alcohol use disorder, those with overall scores above eight may misinterpret the findings if they do not analyze the domain scores and wrongly group themselves as dependent. Its use, therefore, needs expert guidance (Lange et al., 2019).


 I must admit feeling uncomfortable asking certain questions in the tool. I was worried that they appeared more personal or that the response could have been manipulated to fit the current context. For instance, responding honestly to question items 5, 9, and 10 could prove challenging as they are sensitive questions that, when asked in social settings, could lead to dishonest responses. The phenomena described above entail the social desirability bias, where actors manipulate their responses into socially favorable ones to avoid perceived judgment and discrimination by the interviewers (Neufeld et al., 2021). According to several literary findings, the social desirability bias is a major challenge facing the administration of questionnaires, whether or not the items are read out by an external actor or the clients themselves.


Based on the weaknesses and challenges mentioned above, future AUDIT versions should be more user-friendly to reduce the chances of misinterpretation (Khan et al., 2020). At the end of the interview, James disputed the results claiming it was not a true reflection of his drinking behavior. Perhaps he felt profiled and attacked as he did not expect to be diagnosed with an alcohol-related problem. I had to interpret the results on his behalf by focusing on each domain in the tool and explaining to him the nature of the results.

Therefore, future researchers should develop easy-to-use and interpret AUDIT tools to encourage more people with suspected drinking problems to perform the screening and seek help early enough. Versions that are more public-oriented should therefore be developed for positive outcomes.

Tool Administration 2

While conducting the interview based on MAST items, I realized that it shared certain question items with AUDIT, such as that regarding feelings of guilt by the client after an alcohol-drinking session. Furthermore, the MAST tool took more time to administer and interpret. However, similar to the AUDIT tool, I had an overall positive experience conducting the interview where James scored four, showing that he may be in the early stages of alcoholism.


The MAST tool contains 25 question items which make it more comprehensive. While administering it, the items covered all domains of James’ life related to alcohol consumption, giving a bigger picture of his drinking life. The finding is in harmony with Minnich et al.’s (2019) study that reported MAST has positive psychometric properties. The tool has a high test-retest reliability, contributing to its results’ credibility. In addition, the tool also has excellent internal consistency, further adding to the validity and credibility of the results (Minnich et al., 2019). An analysis of the question items also shows high content and criterion validity, increasing the tool’s sensitivity and specificity, which is the reason the tool is the most commonly used in different social contexts with positive outcomes.


While administering the MAST tool, James appeared to have lost concentration at one point. The test took approximately 20 minutes to administer and interpret the results, which is a long duration and the tool’s main weakness. Therefore, as Hsu et al. (2022) reported, the tool is unsuitable for busy primary healthcare settings where quick screening is invaluable due to time constraints.

Administering the tool also felt like taking a historical account of James’ drinking pattern. The items focused more on lifetime occurrences of alcohol-related problems, its other weakness. Concordant to Hsu et al. (2022) study findings, MAST question items focus on lifetime drinking patterns making it difficult to screen individuals in the early stages of alcoholism.


Due to structural similarities with the AUDIT tool, MAST faces social desirability bias. Some items related to alcohol dependency or risky behavior felt sensitive and challenging to ask due to perceived privacy infringement. As Mehta et al. (2019) reported, social desirability remains a major challenge faced by providers using questionnaires to collect data, especially when the information required is subject to sensitivity. My presence prompted James to respond in a socially desirable manner for fear of judgment or discrimination.


Shorter versions of MAST have been instrumental in promoting the use of the tool even in busy primary care settings, which report high incidences of alcoholism (Mehta et al., 2019). More client-friendly versions that bypass a health professional’s guidance are needed to improve the validity and credibility of the tool’s results. Future versions should focus on increasing client autonomy with the tool to reduce the effect of social desirability bias and improve response rate (Mehta et al., 2019).


Alcohol use screening tools are critical in the early identification of alcoholism and alcohol use disorder leading to a reduction in alcohol-related morbidity and mortality. Both AUDIT and MAST effectively screen alcohol use, and their application in primary care settings should be promoted and facilitated. MAST is more comprehensive with many question items compared to AUDIT, which contributes to its psychometric properties hence the high levels of reliability and validity. However, researchers should focus on reducing the effects of social desirability bias which has statistically significant outcomes on the tests’ results.

 2218 words 


Hsu, W.-Y., Chang, T.-G., Chang, C.-C., Chiu, N.-Y., Lin, C.-H., & Lane, H.-Y. (2022). Suicide ideation among outpatients with alcohol use disorder. Behavioural Neurology, 2022, e4138629.

Khan, M. R., Young, K. E., Caniglia, E. C., Fiellin, D. A., Maisto, S. A., Marshall, B. D. L., Edelman, E. J., Gaither, J. R., Chichetto, N. E., Tate, J., Bryant, K. J., Severe, M., Stevens, E. R., Justice, A., & Braithwaite, S. R. (2020). Association of alcohol screening scores with adverse mental health conditions and substance use among US adults. JAMA Network Open, 3(3), e200895.

Lange, S., Shield, K., Monteiro, M., & Rehm, J. (2019). Facilitating screening and brief interventions in primary care: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the AUDIT as an indicator of alcohol use disorders. Alcohol: Clinical and Experimental Research, 43(10), 2028–2037.

Mehta, S., Janzen, S., Cotoi, A., Rice, D., Owens, K., & Teasell, R. (2019). Screening questionnaires for substance abuse post brain injury: A review. Brain Injury, 33(5), 551–558.

Minnich, A., Erford, B. T., Bardhoshi, G., Atalay, Z., Chang, C. Y., & Muller, L. A. (2019). Systematic evaluation of psychometric characteristics of the Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test 13-Item Short (SMAST) and 10-Item Brief (BMAST) versions. Journal of Counseling & Development, 97(1), 15–24.

Neufeld, M., Rehm, J., Bunova, A., Gil, A., Gornyi, B., Rovira, P., Manthey, J., Yurasova, E., Dolgova, S., Idrisov, B., Moskvicheva, M., Nabiullina, G., Shegaym, O., Zhidkova, I., Ziganshina, Z., & Ferreira-Borges, C. (2021). Validation of a screening test for alcohol use, the Russian Federation. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 99(7), 496–505.

Ryan, S. A., Kokotailo, P., Committee On Substance Use And Prevention, Camenga, D. R., Patrick, S. W., Plumb, J., Quigley, J., & Walker-Harding, L. (2019). Alcohol use by youth. Pediatrics, 144(1), e20191357.

Sanchez-Roige, S., Palmer, A. A., Fontanillas, P., Elson, S. L., Adams, M. J., Howard, D. M., Edenberg, H. J., Davies, G., Crist, R. C., Deary, I. J., McIntosh, A. M., & Clarke, T.-K. (2019). Genome-wide association study meta-analysis of the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) in two population-based cohorts. American Journal of Psychiatry, 176(2), 107–118.

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Psychology Essay Example 2

 Prolonged Grief Disorder: Is it A Psychological Disorder

Prolonged grief disorder has been recently considered a distinct disorder in the DSM-5. Despite grief being a natural process for the loss of a loved one, when the intense feeling of grief persists to the extent that they disrupt a person’s everyday activities of a person, it should be considered a disorder that calls for help (APA, 2022). Prolonged grief disorder is comorbid with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Like any other psychiatric disorder, prolonged grief disorder has symptoms used in its diagnostic criteria. They include(APA, 2022):

  1. Disturbance of one’s identity, which manifests as feelings that a part of oneself has died and the longing for a reunion.
  2. A heightened sense of disbelief regarding the death.
  • Avoidance of cues about the dead person.
  1. Aggravated emotional pain that is linked to the death.
  2. problems with reintegration, emotional numbness and feelings of life being meaningless (APA, 2022).

Therefore, prolonged grief disorder does not count as the medicalization of a normal condition because it is not normal to experience the mentioned symptoms over more than six months to 1 year (Barry, 2022). If more than one psychiatrist makes the same diagnosis on the same patient using the DSM-5 criteria, prolonged grief disorder qualifies as a mental health disorder. Evidence in the literature shows that a sizable population of individuals that have suffered a loss experience prolonged grief disorder. It must be included as a psychiatric disorder to ensure they receive professional help. Additionally, this will prompt research funding into the best therapeutic options (Barry, 2022). Clinicians will also be able to bill insurance companies for the treatment offered. Consequently, not having prolonged grief disorder could be denied a significant number of people the professional help they need.


APA. (2022). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5-TR. American Psychiatric Association Publishing.

Barry, E. (2022, March 18). How Long Should It Take to Grieve? Psychiatry Has Come Up With an Answer. The New York Times.

Psychological Theories Essay Example

Personal Construct Theory

The Personal Construct Theory is a cognitive and personality theory postulated by George Kelly and seeks to answer questions regarding the psychological reasons behind people’s behavior (Stam, 1998). Following the advents of the works of the psychology of personal constructs, the ideas that Kelly presented motivated misunderstanding and incomprehension within the psychological community of scholars who contend that his views were more radical than the perspectives of the period, which mainly revolved around psychoanalysis and behaviorism (Chiari, 2017). Human beings create internal models of reality, called constructs, through observation and experimentation. According to this theory, the internal rules or constructs help people make sense of the world around them based on past experiences (Reynolds, 2013). Constructs start as unstable conjectures and keep changing until they become stable as people gain knowledge and proof.

It should be noted that constructs can be defined using words, but sometimes it can be non-verbal and challenging to explain, for example, the feeling that people of a particular country feel when their athlete wins a trophy (Katz, 1984). When people’s constructs are challenged or incomplete, they might experience anxiety, anger, confusion, and fear. For mental health practitioners, understanding a client’s constructs plays a significant role in building rapport and emotional capital with them. Consequently, deep mastery of the personal construct theory based on its various corollaries is indispensable for understanding the client’s concerns, choosing the most effective messaging, and customizing recommendation that fosters person-centered care.

In the construction analogy, Kelly believed people anticipate happenings by interpreting their repetitions. Because events are least likely to happen multiple times since they may cease to be unique, a person can anticipate them by developing a construct that allows them to perceive the two as similar (Paszkowska-Rogacz & Kabzinska, 2012). Their constructs should also let them to choose the ones that should be perceived similarly. Consequently, the same structure that shows their correspondence should differentiate them from others (Kelly, 2005). Through these similarities, people can predict or establish anticipations regarding how that type of event will be handled in the future.

In the individual corollary, Kelly introduced that individual differences occur among their perceptions of events. Stemming from the fact that construction is a personal affair, there is a reduced likelihood of two similar people concocting the same systems. Two identical constructs can never be similar events. On the flip side, though the organization corollary, Kelly argues that human beings tend to arrange their constructs in a system that is ranked whereby some constructs are in the superior (superordinate) position while others occupy the (inferior) subordinate one (Kelly, 1970). Through this organization, it is possible to reduce incompatible constructs. Although specific constructs are open to change, the relationship among constructs is always enduring compared to the individual constructs (Paszkowska-Rogacz & Kabzinska, 2012). Kelly argues that the dichotomy corollary and constructs are bipolar or dichotomous. Consequently, to anticipate future events correctly, the dissimilarities should be accounted for in the same way that similarities are anticipated among people or events (Kelly, 2005). For example, the idea should include dishonesty if there is an opinion regarding loyalty.

According to the choice construct, the alternative is preferred in a dichotomous construct. Kelly has it that people are regularly confronted with opportunities for making choices favoring the option which appears to be the best foundation for anticipating the subsequent events (Taber, 2020). Consequently, people tend to move forward with the choices that make their system more explicit and precise cut. However, in some instances, people tend to be in a contrary position. Kelly argues that internal conflict is triggered by the fact that people want to have everything in equilibrium, and he states that the “secure definiteness of a narrowly encompassed world against the uncertain possibilities of life’s adventure (Kelly, 2005).”

Kelly argues that the range of corollary constructs is restricted to a specific state of convenience which means that they might not make sense in all the situations. The one external to the comfort of a certain specific idea or aspect and its dichotomous rules are considered outside its contrasting category and therefore in an area of irrelevancy (Reynolds, 2013). Kelly in the experience corollary contends that people continuously review their constructs because of experience. The construction system underwent progressive evolution following the revision of anticipations or hypotheses based on the events unfolding.

Kelly postulated that, in such a scenario, learning must have happened. However, according to the modulation corollary, only a few new experiences trigger a review of the individual constructs (Chiari, 2017). Wherever constructs are porous, they can change through experience, while impermeable experiences resist change regardless of the experience. The same person should construe the new perspectives that a person gains from expertise for it to make sense which calls for conscious reflection (Ellis, 1999). Kelly has that individuals do not learn specific concepts based upon the type of stimuli that play upon them but only learn what their framework is meant to allow them to see in the motivations.

Based on this idea, the fragmentation corollary facets denotes that that sometimes people ‘s behaviors are inconsistent which is attributable to the fact that people’s construct subsystems can readily allow incompatible and work in a conflicting situation (Kelly, 2005). It is worth noting that the modulation corollary utterly puts up with inconsistencies between systems. Based on the system’s super- and sub-ordinate attributes which get inferred in the specific context, the impenetrability of a particular construct can stop learning.

The commonality corollary has it that if people share everyday experiences, their constructs will be like the construction system of other people. Kelly describes the similarity of expectations culture in that people will have a common perception of what is expected of them (Katz, 1984). Individuals take part in the anticipation of the future, which is grounded in personal constructs based on the experience shared with others.

The social corollary dictates that individuals communicate with one another because they can construe other people’s constructs. Most human beings can interpret people’s behaviors and what the specific behavior means to them, facilitating communication and joint participation in a social process (Epting & Leitner, 1992). Consequently, although sharing the same view is not a prerequisite, people must understand each other’s ideas.

Kelly ascribes to people an agency while developing their knowledge in the personal construct theory and the metaphor of the people as their scientists, which has a clear conceptual link to cognitivism and constructivism. It should be noted that this work is part of the early movement in cognitive psychology, and he is known as the pioneer of cognitive psychological theories.   Many people view him as a humanist thinker because his approach stresses the tenets of human potential coupled with personal change. However, opponents of Kelly’s work have criticized his work for lacking elements of motivation and emotions, more specifically when focusing on human function stemming from the fact that, devoid of these, it is an uphill task to understand human functioning.


Chiari, G. (2017). Personal Construct Theory. In V. Zeigler-Hill & T. K. Shackelford (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences (pp. 1–4). Springer International Publishing.

Ellis, J. M. (1999). Nursing care of older people: A personal construct theory perspective. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 29(1), 160–168.

Epting, F. R., & Leitner, L. M. (1992). Humanistic psychology and personal construct theory. The Humanistic Psychologist, 20(2–3), 243–259.

Katz, J. O. (1984). Personal construct theory and the emotions: An interpretation in terms of primitive constructs. British Journal of Psychology, 75(3), 315–327.

Kelly, G. A. (1970). A brief introduction to personal construct theory. Perspectives in Personal Construct Theory, 1, 29.

Kelly, G. A. (2005). A Brief Introduction to Personal Construct Theory. In F. Fransella (Ed.), International Handbook of Personal Construct Psychology (pp. 3–20). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Paszkowska-Rogacz, A., & Kabzinska, Z. (2012). Applications of Kelly’s personal construct theory to vocational guidance. Online Submission, 2(7), 408–421.

Reynolds, R. (2013). Personal construct theory. Theory in Information Behaviour Research, 68–82.

Stam, H. J. (1998). Personal-construct theory and social constructionism: Difference and dialogue. Journal of Constructivist Psychology, 11(3), 187–203.

Taber, K. S. (2020). Constructive Alternativism: George Kelly’s Personal Construct Theory. In B. Akpan & T. J. Kennedy (Eds.), Science Education in Theory and Practice: An Introductory Guide to Learning Theory (pp. 373–388). Springer International Publishing.


Counselling Psychology Essay Example

Person Centered Approach in Counseling

The Person-Centred Approach is essential in the counseling process. The conditions necessary for the approach facilitate the formation of a positive therapeutic relationship required by counselors/therapists for a successful session (Frankel et al., 2019; Yao and Kabir, 2023). Therapists must possess the qualities of empathy, Unconditional Positive Regard (UPR), congruence, and psychological contact for a healthy interpersonal relationship that encourages vulnerability bound within ethical and professional requirements. After reflecting on a counseling session, I had with a client earlier; I realized I had applied the abovementioned principles, which is why I had a successful client-driven session. The client dominated the session and identified her strengths and weaknesses and the solutions to her grievances which was immensely satisfying. This essay summarizes the counseling session by providing a reflection and critique using the Person-Centered and Experiential Psychotherapy Scale (PCEPS).

Instances of Empathy, Congruence, and UPR During the Session

The session’s topic was generally enjoyable, promoting our client-therapist interaction. It was about a romantic relationship, a common phenomenon, and I, therefore, easily related to the client’s story and emerging feelings and emotions. As the client provided more information regarding her personal preferences and concerns in a relationship, I became more empathetic and shared her situation. Empathy is when the counselor, through active listening and participation, accesses the client’s world to develop a similar stance on a given situation (Talley and Jones, 2019). Therefore, therapists can understand clients’ reactions helping them identify and replace negative thoughts with positive ones.

Instances of empathy facilitated the development of conversations during the session. For example, I showed empathy in L5 when I asked the client for more detail regarding her triggers. Similarly, my response in L10 demonstrated attention to detail and the salient but invaluable elements of a conversation, which is a technique for developing empathy (Yao and Kabir, 2023). Most responses were influenced by the therapist’s empathetic approach during the session, which promoted open and honest communication of emerging concerns as depicted by the client’s responses which contained new insights.

The responses I gave depicted UPR, a requirement for person-centered care where the client is shown and treated with unconditional love and consideration of their human nature despite their unique reactions to situations (Kim et al., 2020). Furthermore, in UPR, the therapist must show the ability to appreciate and tolerate diversity in human behavior to give an environment of unconditional acceptance free of judgment and disapproval (Ort et al., 2023). In S9, the client admitted reacting inappropriately to her daughter’s behavior due to perceived stress from her relationship. The response, L10, depicts UPR as free of approval or disapproval and completely non-judgmental, making the client less reserved.

Congruence is another requirement of the person-centered approach to care that I applied during the session. It is primarily based on the counselor’s ability to unhide from the professional façade and be themselves in the client-therapist relationship (Kaimaxi and Lakioti, 2021). This facilitates sharing everyday experiences based on true life accounts, making the client more open and receptive (Frankel et al., 2019). The response in S10 revealed the self-disparity the client was experiencing due to being in a dilemma. The answer in L10 metaphorically revealed that the counselor had the same experience, hence the client’s new detail in the following S11 response.

Session Critique Using the PCEPS

The person-centered approach has significant applications in the field of counseling psychology. Using measuring scales such as the PCEP scale helps determine a session’s quality by analyzing Person-centeredness and the session’s experiential process (Haake et al., 2021). Most responses from the counselor rated above level 4 on the PCEP scale. For instance, regarding client flow, the therapist’s responses are brief while the client is detailed, showing that the client is provided the platform to explain herself comprehensively. Similarly, the evidence is an empowering presence concerning the dominance of the session item in the PCEP scale.

The therapist also showed good tracking ability of the client’s frame of reference, evidenced by an understanding of her experiences and intent. In S4, for instance, the client mentioned the strained relationship with her father as a trigger for her insecurities in the current relationship. The therapist’s L4 response sought clarification on the strained relations, clearly indicating its basis in the previous response. Moreover, the counselor’s answers throughout the session were based on the client’s context showing excellent non-directiveness on the PCEP scale (Haake et al., 2021). This implies that the client led the season as the therapist followed, prompting further discussion. Overall, the session was highly patient centered shown by the evidence above.

The experiential specificity section also had many items scoring above level 4 on the scale. The experiential specificity was reasonable, with the client being encouraged to elaborate on different experiences. In L2, the counselor prompted further explanation of the importance of communication in a romantic relationship. In addition, in L5 and L8, the therapist asked more concerning the triggers and feelings of being overwhelmed, respectively, reported by the client. The approach prevented vagueness giving clear responses for the client to build on.

The session also showed excellent client self-development. Throughout the therapy, the therapist effectively guided the client’s accounts and provided enough time for reflection, making the client autonomously develop alternatives to her concerns. In S9, for example, the client admitted to overreacting to her daughter. After venting and a critical reflection, she identified relaxing whenever she faced anxiety and worried about her relationship, which is evidence of self-development.

A Critical Reflection of the Session

Indeed, counseling psychology helps distressed individuals identify solutions to their problems. Its success is attributed to the person-centered approach it uses. The process is based on Carl Rogers’s theory of Person-centeredness, which posits that people have solutions to their problems and do not need unique guidance (Yao and Kabir, 2023). Instead, they should be facilitated, under favorable environments, to talk through their concerns, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and suggest possible solutions without the practitioner’s coercion.

The session was interesting as it dealt with a common topic of romantic relationships and the insecurities and concerns that people have. I learned much about applying the person-centered theory in practice and the recurrent themes of romantic relationships. During the session, I had the simple task of listening and carefully following through the client’s narrative to help her identify a solution. As Talley and Jones reported in their (2019) article, counselors help individuals identify their strengths and shortcomings by listening to them and paraphrasing their statements, making them more precise and understandable. I used a similar approach and quickly led the session, allowing the client to dominate while probing vague areas. When responding to S1, L1 investigated the client’s stress and happiness without introducing new subjects to promote a client-driven session.

Overall, I realized that my approach was practical for the client. Toward the end of the session, I learned of the client’s increased awareness of herself and her situation. S6 shows heightened self-awareness about the client’s emotional triggers and how to control their effects adequately. The therapeutic relationship between the client and me that promoted open and honest communication and trust resulted from the four conditions required for a personal-centered approach of psychological contact, UPR, congruence, and empathy.

I had experienced a similar situation; hence it was simply getting into the client’s world and having her stance on the case, which promoted empathy and congruence. Furthermore, attitudinal change gained from counseling psychology significantly helped apply the concept of UPR, thus contributing to the therapeutic relationship. Coupled with the client’s outgoing nature, I listened to her narrative, helping her identify alternatives.

Controlling the impact of my values proved challenging during the session. Due to empathy, congruence, and shared perspectives regarding the topic of discussion, it was difficult to control the urge to impose personal values. However, I was forced to suppress the instinct to promote the client’s autonomy due to professional and legal requirements. As Stoll et al. (2020) reported, therapists’ increased awareness of personal strengths and limitations in the client-therapist relationship helps them effectively control such instincts, which were crucial for the session.


The main objective of counseling psychology is to improve personal awareness of strengths and weaknesses so that individuals, under minimal guidance, are helped to identify solutions to their problems. Therapists should be aware of the stance of Carl Roger’s theory of person-centeredness, that humans know the solution to their problems and need minimal support to identify them, which is the aim of every counselor. As a result, they use scales such as the PCEPS to examine the extent of person-centeredness and the experiential process of a counseling session and make the needed adjustments to their approaches. Furthermore, by reviewing and reflecting on their sessions, psychologists identify their areas of strength and weaknesses and improve accordingly. Consequently, reflecting and critically analyzing the essay’s counseling session, it is invaluable to adopt the conditions of psychological contact, congruence, empathy, and UPR to apply the person-centered approach successfully. The essay also highlights the importance of knowledge of ethical and professional requirements by therapists to help mitigate their occurrence in practice.


Reference List

Frankel, M., Johnson, M., Polak, R., 2019. Inter-personal congruence: The social contracts of client-centered and person-centered therapies. Person-Centered & Experiential Psychotherapies 18, 22–53.

Haake, R., Hardy, G.E., Barkham, M., 2021. Person-centered experiential therapy: Perceptions of trainers and developers. Couns Psychother Res 21, 459–489.

Kaimaxi, D., Lakioti, A., 2021. The development of congruence: A thematic analysis of person-centered counselors’ perspectives. Person-Centered & Experiential Psychotherapies 20, 232–249.

Kim, J., Joseph, S., Price, S., 2020. The positive psychology of relational depth and its association with unconditional positive self-regard and authenticity. Person-Centered & Experiential Psychotherapies 19, 12–21.

Ort, D., Moore, C., Farber, B.A., 2023. Therapists’ perspectives on positive regard. Person-Centered & Experiential Psychotherapies 22, 139–153.

Stoll, J., Müller, J.A., Trachsel, M., 2020. Ethical issues in online psychotherapy: A narrative review. Front. Psychiatry 10, 993.

Talley, L.P., Jones, L., 2019. Person-centered supervision: A realistic approach to practice within counselor education. Teaching and Supervision in Counseling 1.

Yao, L., Kabir, R., 2023. Person-centered therapy (Rogerian therapy), in StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing, Treasure Island (FL).


Psychology Research Paper Example

Age and Belongingness

It is intuitive that most human beings, regardless of age, are strongly inclined towards being part of a social group or community from which they acquire support. Human beings are designed to interact, cooperate, and engage with one another in a group to learn and enhance various aspects of life, even if it happens in a hostile environment (Gur & Bina, 2023). Consequently, it is undisputed that belonging constantly motivates individuals to be part of a particular social group (Allen et al., 2021). It should be noted that belonging is not only a human need but also confers multiple benefits that influence psychological and behavioral adjustment coupled with the more comprehensive human functioning in a wide range of social aspects.

There is evidence in the literature that belonging is a relational need, like other needs such as self-esteem, trust, and shared understanding. Belongingness means that someone feels connected with others and is part of their social group, surrounding, and environment (Gillen-O’Neel, 2021). A specific section of scholars has it that belongingness entails feeling secure, having the capacity to contribute towards the well-being of others, and fitting in with someone’s environment (Karim & Hue, 2022). Therefore, there is a need for people to develop their sense of belonging in light of their social environment.

People in different age groups perceive their sense of belonging differently. The most recent study showed that that the majority  older adults (65 and older) consider advanced age as time that is punctuated with  predictors of psychosocial distress such as loneliness (Park et al., 2020). Older adults participating in the study had a low sense of belonging with significant others, feeling helpless and contemplating suicide. Therefore, for older people to age well and maintain their belonging to a social circle of friends they should stay involved with life (Portacolone et al., 2020). The primary reasons for staying involved with life include eliminating  feelings of boredom and enhancing a sense of enjoyment with one’s life (Moyano-Díaz & Mendoza-Llanos, 2021). Older adults find it an uphill task to stay involved with life compared with younger people, with some of the reasons provided is that older people have declining health issues and find it difficult to move from one point to another to visit friends.


A positive correlation exists between age and the value people attach to belongingness.

Research Question

Is there a correlation between the sense of belonging attached to friendships and age?

                                                            Literature Review

A wide range of studies have been conducted to determine the effect of belongingness on various aspects of life. In the current study context, belongingness  denotes the definition provided by Goodwin-Smith et al. (2019), that belonging is the experience that an individual has of being part of a socioecological system   leading to feelings of being essential component of the socioecological environment. In his famous 1943 seminal paper, Maslow documented the essential role that belonging plays in individuals’ psychological well-being, making it a necessary part of human needs. The paradigm has undergone extensive development, and it is now regarded as necessary for social integration, an idea initially postulated by Durkheim (Berkman et al., 2000; Hale et al., 2019). It is undisputed that belongingness is integral to survival and thriving to the extent that the sociometer hypothesis has it that self-esteem is used as a barometer whereby reduced self-esteem serves as a warning to someone that they are being socially excluded. Therefore, an urgent need to enhance their sense of belonging.

Belongingness to one’s community refers to the connection the community has developed through participating in community organizations and helping each other out when needed. A research was conducted in India in health service delivery areas by Afroz and Tiwari (2015). The findings of the research indicated that people aged between the ages of adolescents (12-19 years) and older adults (65 and older) have a higher sense of belonging compared to middle-aged adults (20-64 years). The differences in the sense of belonging were statistically significant. Another study indicates that adolescent girls have a higher sense of belonging than their male counterparts of the same age group (Grzejszczak et al., 2023). The findings were supported by a survey carried out by Employment and social development in Canada to find out people’s perceptions on the benefits of belongingness (Employment and Social Development, 2003). The findings indicated a positive causal and correlation relationship between belongingness and age. Individuals aged 65 and above had the highest likelihood of indicating a “somewhat or strong sense of belonging to their country, province, and community” compared to the middle-aged cohort (20-64 years)

A systematic literature review was conducted by Gur and Bina (2023) to find out the facilitators of belongingness among developmentally challenged people. The study’s findings showed that belongingness is enhanced when one feels respected, accepted, and valued. The scholars argue that these experiences can only be evident when someone finds themselves in a familiar and safe environment, which means that belonging is environmentally and place dependent and access to social interaction platforms where feeling of being connected are made possible by common experiences that people have with each other. Karim and Hue (2022) conducted a study using Berry’s acculturation theory as a framework for conducting data analysis to determine the level of belongingness in a group of students at the secondary school level in Pakistan by comparing their level of belongingness to the sociocultural activities which are prevalent in Hong Kong. The findings showed that there was a disconnect between their level of belongingness, friendships, and their lived cultural assimilation experiences.

Age plays an essential role in relation to people valuing their sense of belonging. Decker and Beltran (2016) conducted a study to investigate the students’ perceptions concerning their sense of being in a community in relation to online classes and the level of willingness to be involved in study discussions taking place on online study platforms. The study’s findings showed that most of the students felt belongingness to their study groups, and this was not subject to their age at the time, with the older students confessing to having higher level of confidence and being comfortable developing meaningful relationships with their peers. Evidence in the literature shows that older adults value belongingness. Newman and Zainal (2020) indicated that among older adults, social disconnectedness is a strong predictor of the severity of depressive and anxiety symptoms.

Additionally, the findings suggested that older adults’ access to aging or retirement communities that offer belongingness and security is essential in delivering mental healthcare to older adults. Lower levels of belongingness increase mental health problems among older adults. This is more evident when they lack the motivation and desire to feel a sense of belonging or do not have the needed skills to cultivate belonging, an assertion that is well documented in scholarly literature.

Belongingness has multiple effects on the young people. Gillen-O’Neel’s (2021) study on belongingness and level of student engagement showed that the belonginess as a form of social capital determined the level of student’s engagement and commitment to various aspect of their academic life. For example, at the personal level, students with increased levels of belonginess than their peers were likelier to have higher states of emotional, as well as behavioral engagement. The study reported significant differences among between college students who came from families where they were the first ones to attend college (first-generation) and those that had family members that had attended college (Second generation), whereby the first-generation college students were affected by slight daily change in perceived belongingness compared to the continuing-generation college students.

Justification and Rationale for Data Collection

In all the studies that have been reviewed, few of them have indicated the effect of belongingness on a person’s mental health and daily performance in various activities. The studies have also indicated how belongingness is perceived and affects people of various ages. The studies have indicated that age affects the level of belonging to the community, place, and family. However, studies have yet to investigate the effect that age has on individuals valuing the sense of belonging they acquire from friendships. Therefore, the current survey sought to find out how age influences the value people attach to the sense of belonging they gain from friends.


Data Collection Methodology

  A belonging questionnaire was administered to a group of volunteers belonging to different age groups who were sampled using random stratified sampling. The participants clearly explained the study’s aims and were required to sign an informed consent form. The participants were assured of their privacy and confidentiality by using codes to identify them. Their autonomy in the study was maintained by informing them that they were free to participate and could withdraw at any point without incurring any negative consequences. The questionnaire included a section collecting the participants’ demographics, such as age and gender. In the belonging questionnaire, the participants were given 20 statements that denote the construct of belonging. They were required to score each statement from 1 to 5 on a Likert scale with 1 representing “Not at all,” 2=”A little, “3= “Neutral,” 4= “Somewhat,” and 5= “Extremely,” which shows that each question the score was five on the belonging scale on each item. The highest possible score was 100 for each participant in all the items. Reliability analysis was conducted to check for the reliability of the belonging scale, and Cronbach’s alpha score was .944, which shows that the scale consistently measured the concept of belongingness. A total of 3249 surveys were completed. The total of the individual responses was collected in the survey, which offered a single score regarding belonging and was employed in conducting correlational analysis.

Data Analysis

Data analysis was conducted using the JASP open-source software. Descriptive statistics were conducted to obtain the mean, standard deviation of the measures of belonging and age. On top of that, the researcher conducted a correlation analysis to determine the relationship between age and the value of belongingness obtained from friends. Before running the correlation analysis, the researcher checked the data’s normality. According to the tests of normality, the data was slightly skewed towards the end of the belongingness scale.

General Findings

The mean age of the participants was 40 years (SD=13 years). The lowest age of the participants was 18 years, and the maximum was 87 years. On the other hand, the average belonging score was 3.84 (SD=.78), with the highest being 1.00 and the lowest 5.00. The mean of the total belonging was 76.83 (SD=15.58). The minimum score was 20, while the highest score was 100.

A Pearson correlation coefficient was computed using JASP open-source software to determine the linear relationship between the sense of belonging that people benefit from friends and age. The results of the correlation analysis indicated that there is a negative correlation between age and belonging that the participants that took part in the study obtained from friendship (r (3247) = (-.046), p= .009).

Correlation Table
Variable   Age Total Belonging
1. Age Pearson’s r
Spearman’s rho
2. Total belonging Pearson’s r -0.046
p-value 0.009
Spearman’s rho -0.030
p-value 0.088

                        Findings concerning existing theory and Research

The mean belonging score was 3.84, towards the high end of the belonging scale. This was consistent with the study conducted by Allen et al. (2021), showing that belongingness obtained from friends by people of all age groups enhances their mental health and quick recovery from an illness. The mean of total belonging obtained from friends was also high at 76.83 (SD=15.58), which means that the majority of the people that were studied perceive belongingness acquired through friendship as being instrumental in their daily life. In the same vein, the findings of the study by Decker and Beltran (2016) show that students, regardless of their age, have a high sense of belonging.

On top of that, the findings of the study showed a negative correlation between the sense of belonging sourced from friendships and age. This was contrary to the survey conducted by Employment and Social Development (2003), showing that the sense of belonging increased with age. The differences observed in the findings could be attributed to the survey conducted in 2003 when communication using social media platforms was not expected. Multiple studies have indicated that with the advent of social media, more adolescents and middle-aged adults find belongingness in social media communities such as Facebook groups (Bream, 2020; Valentine et al., 2020; Yavich et al., 2019).


The current study expanded the pool of data on the effect of age on the value that people place on the sense of belonging obtained from friends. The current study aimed to find how people value the sense of belonging they obtain from friends based on their age. Based on past studies, the researcher hypothesized that people’s valuing of belongingness is positively correlated with age. However, the current study found a negative correlation between valuing belongingness and age. Consequently, the hypothesis was rejected. The study had a large sample size, showing that gender differences did not influence the findings because of the large group sizes. The findings of the study should be used with caution because the study used a survey as a data collection method, and the sense of belonging could not be measured beyond the developed statements and the Likert scale.

Additionally, the findings could be affected by the researcher’s presence when the respondents were filling out the questionnaires meaning that there is a possibility of providing socially rational responses. Consequently, future studies should consider the use of the mixed method design combining in-depth semi-structured interviews and personal network surveys to investigate the perceptions of belonging in different age groups. Additionally, the study was carried out at a single point in time and was mainly descriptive. The structure of social networks, which contribute toward the construction of friendships, tends to vary based on dynamic processes as people grow and develop. Therefore, future studies should consider carrying out longitudinal studies.


Afroz, S., & Tiwari, P. S. N. (2015). Belongingness among different age groups. Indian Journal of Positive Psychology, 6(3), 260–265.

Allen, K.-A., Arslan, G., Craig, H., Arefi, S., Yaghoobzadeh, A., & Sharif Nia, H. (2021). The psychometric evaluation of the sense of belonging instrument (SOBI) with Iranian older adults. BMC Geriatrics, 21, 211.

Berkman, L. F., Glass, T., Brissette, I., & Seeman, T. E. (2000). From social integration to health: Durkheim in the new millennium☆☆This paper is adapted from Berkman, L.F., & Glass, T. Social integration, social networks, social support and health. In L. F. Berkman & I. Kawachi, Social Epidemiology. New York: Oxford University Press; and Brissette, I., Cohen S., Seeman, T. Measuring social integration and social networks. In S. Cohen, L. Underwood & B. Gottlieb, Social Support Measurements and Intervention. New York: Oxford University Press. Social Science & Medicine, 51(6), 843–857.

Bream, O. (2020). Young people and social media: A response to Luci Pangrazio. Literacy Learning: The Middle Years, 28(1), 13–15.

Decker, J., & Beltran, V. (2016). Students’ Sense of Belonging in Online Classes: Does Age Matter? International Journal of Online Pedagogy and Course Design (IJOPCD), 6(3), 14–25.

Employment and Social Development. (2003). 2003 General Social Survey on Social Engagement, Cycle 17: An Overview of Findings – ARCHIVED.

Gillen-O’Neel, C. (2021). Sense of Belonging and Student Engagement: A Daily Study of First- and Continuing-Generation College Students. Research in Higher Education, 62(1), 45–71.

Goodwin-Smith, I., Hill, K., Due, C., Waterford, M., Corrales, T., Wood, L., Yourell, T., & Ho, C. (2019). ‘I’m not a barcode or case file number’: Understandings of perceived social support and belonging within disadvantaged adolescents and young adults. Journal of Family Studies, 25(4), 351–367.

Grzejszczak, J., Strzelecki, D., Gabryelska, A., & Kotlicka-Antczak, M. (2023). Affiliation to a Social Group as a Preventive Factor in Suicidal Behaviors in Children and Adolescents during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Children, 10(2), 333.

Gur, A., & Bina, R. (2023). Facilitators of Sense of Belonging among People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: A Systematic Review. Journal of Intellectual Disabilities, 27(2), 516–538.

Hale, A. J., Ricotta, D. N., Freed, J., Smith, C. C., & Huang, G. C. (2019). Adapting Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as a Framework for Resident Wellness. Teaching and Learning in Medicine, 31(1), 109–118.

Karim, S., & Hue, M. T. (2022). Acculturation and sense of belonging: A study of young Pakistani students in Hong Kong. Asian Ethnicity, 23(3), 463–483.

Moyano-Díaz, E., & Mendoza-Llanos, R. (2021). Membership, neighborhood social identification, well-being, and health for the elderly in Chile. Frontiers in Psychology, 11.

Newman, M. G., & Zainal, N. H. (2020). The value of maintaining social connections for mental health in older people. The Lancet Public Health, 5(1), e12–e13.

Park, I., Veliz, P. T., Ingersoll-Dayton, B., Struble, L. M., Gallagher, N. A., Hagerty, B. M., & Larson, J. L. (2020). Assisted Living Residents’ Sense of Belonging and Psychosocial Outcomes. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 42(10), 805–813.

Portacolone, E., Johnson, J. K., Halpern, J., & Kotwal, A. (2020). Seeking a Sense of Belonging. Generations, 44(3), 1–8.

Valentine, L., McEnery, C., O’Sullivan, S., Gleeson, J., Bendall, S., & Alvarez-Jimenez, M. (2020). Young people’s experience of a long-term social media–based intervention for first-episode psychosis: Qualitative analysis. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 22(6).

Yavich, R., Davidovitch, N., & Frenkel, Z. (2019). Social Media and Loneliness—Forever Connected? Higher Education Studies, 9(2), 10–21.


Psychology Literature Review Example

Development of Deception in Children

Honesty is highly regarded and considered a virtue. There are many moral stories and fables told to children about virtue, lying, and the negative consequences of deception. Parents tell and read stories (The Boy Who Cried Wolf or Pinocchio) to their children emphasizing honesty (Heyman, Luu & Lee, 2009). Not only do parents emphasize honesty to their kids, but parents punish children for dishonesty (Lewis, 1993; Robinson, 1996).

Although parents condemn lying and emphasize the importance of honesty, many parents lie to their own children (Heyman et al., 2009). In addition, many children tell different types of lies more often than parents like to believe. Learning to lie successfully is a natural part of growing up and human developmental trajectory. There are many types of lies and purpose for lying for oneself or for others: white lies, lying to protect someone’s feelings, avoiding punishment, and more. Lying is common in interpersonal communications. As children grow older, children understand more about prosocial lie-telling. However, lying can become a problem and has negative consequences if chronically or inappropriately used.

In order to successfully deceive another, the lie-teller needs to regulate verbal statements and nonverbal behavior. Verbal statements refers to the content of the statements made during the process of telling a lie, whereas nonverbal behavior refers to facial expressions, vocal, and body language (Talwar & Lee, 2002).

This literature review examines studies on the development of deception among young children, arguing that the emergence of lying and lying behaviors is normal and reflects children’s advanced cognitive development with age. Moreover, there are many different types of lies and many types of social situations and contexts that enable or inhibit children from lying or telling the truth.

The Review

Talwar and Lee (2002) wanted to examine verbal and nonverbal behaviors of lying and truth-telling children aged three- to seven-years-old. They hypothesized that young children were more likely to incriminate themselves verbally. Talwar and Lee used a resistant temptation paradigm. This paradigm involves playing a guessing game with children. The experimenter places a toy behind the children’s back and plays an audio cue. However, children are left alone in the room with a toy behind their back and told not to peek. When the experimenter comes back, the children are asked if they peeked. In the study, one hundred and one three- to seven-year-old participants were told they were going to play a game that involved guessing names of popular toys. Children were instructed to sit in a chair and listen to the audio clue associated with a toy that was kept behind them three times. On the third presentation, the experimenter was interrupted to answer a phone. Before the experimenter left, they said, “Don’t turn round to peek and look at the toy” and “remember, no peeking.” Children were left alone for about thirty to sixty seconds.

The results of the study matched the experimenter’s hypothesis. When asked, 64% of the three-year-olds confessed to peeking whereas most of the four- to seven-year-olds lied. Overall, 79% of girls and 80% of boys lied. Three groups, parents, undergraduate students, and coders were asked to code children’s nonverbal behavior. They were looking at eye movement (e.g. avoidance of eye contact), facial expressions (smiles, pressing/biting lips), body language (shakes head, startled response), and prosody of vocalization (positive tone, sharp breaths). Among the parents and undergraduate coders, there was a sex effect with boys being rated more likely as lie-tellers. This suggests that there is a bias, as boys are more likely to be coded as lie tellers even though both boys and girls lied equally. The research also found 38% of children who lied smiled and 11% of the children who did not lie smiled compared to 76% of children who did not lie and had a relaxed mouth expression and 46% of children who did lie and had a relaxed mouth expression. Overall, adults could not differentiate or distinguish liars from non-liars. There is a significant age pattern for lying behaviors. Three-year-olds are less inclined to lie about their transgressions and are pretty good at nonverbal behaviors. However, many of these children are poor at controlling verbal statements. In addition, children are extremely good at manipulating nonverbal behaviors to deceive others, as adults and undergraduate coders were unable to distinguish liars from non-liars. The study concludes that children under the age of eight have still yet to develop successful deception (Talwar & Lee, 2002). However, asking the subject to lie complicates these studies. In the real world, the person interacting with the lie-telling individual would not know ahead of time that they are potentially being lied to or misled. The situation and conversation become artificial, differing from the natural everyday interactions and contexts (Talwar & Lee, 2002).

Like the previous study, Lewis, Stanger, and Sullivan (1989) examined whether three-year-olds are able to hide their emotional expressions intentionally when lying. They also used the resistant temptation paradigm. The study procedure had children sit in a chair with a toy behind them. The parent was in the room, not facing the child. The experimenter asked the child, “Did you peek?” The subjects were coded as saying “yes” and nodding, saying “no” and shaking their head, or giving no verbal or nonverbal response. The coders observed whether the child peeked or did not peek at the toy after five minutes, as well as nonverbal and verbal responses. Smiling, gaze aversion, sober mouth, and relaxed-interest mouth were the facial expressions and nonverbal behaviors (nervous touching, startled response, body inhibition) that were coded.

The study concluded that young children are able to control their nonverbal expressions quite well. Twenty-nine subjects out of thirty-three peeked: 38% said “yes,” 38% said “no,” and 24% gave no verbal response. Moreover, those who peeked and lied to the experimenter had an increase in smiling and relaxed faces, and the children with no response had more nervous touching. The study suggests that children have increased positive nonverbal expressions and behavior when they admit to transgression. Although this study was done over twenty years ago, the findings corroborated Talwar and Lee’s (2002) findings that three-year-olds were good at masking nonverbal expressions but made verbal transgressions. According to this study, three-year-old children are capable of deception. However, there are some limitations with this study, as there were thirty-three subjects, a small sample, that were middle- and upper-class Caucasians. Having a small sample size and type makes it questionable if this could apply to the general population. Although this study found that boys were more likely to admit their transgression (which contradicts Talwar & Lee, 2000), it is a small sample size and is insufficient at generalising to the public. In addition, this was done in a laboratory. Many three-year-olds do not interact in a lab often. Also, the child’s parent was in the room, and that could affect whether the child lies or not as children might believe they would be punished or face consequences at home (Lewis et al.,1989).

There may be situations in which children tell the truth as opposed to lying. In the study by Talwar, Lee, Bala, and Lindsay (2004), the researchers wanted to examine the implications of children lying for their parents in the legal system. For experiment one, there were one hundred and thirty-seven children aged three to eleven. They were assigned to one of three conditions – Parent Absent, Parent Present, and Child Absent condition. The parent committed a minor transgression of breaking a puppet, acting distress, and asked their child to agree to not tell the researcher. In the Parent Absent condition, parents were asked to leave the room. In the Child Absent condition, the child left the room with the experimenter and the parent “broke” the puppet while the child was not in the room. Afterwards, the child was interviewed (asked questions about what happened to the puppet) and assessed about truth and lie-telling. About half the children in both parent-absent and parent-present conditions reported that their parents broke the puppet, while 22% of children in the child-absent condition did. There was no significant age effect. Also, according to the assessment, children’s understanding of lie and truth-telling increased with age. The study concluded that children are not as likely to tell lies for a stranger, especially with potential consequences for the children. Children may be motivated to lie for a parent under certain conditions. More children lied if they knew they would not be blamed, suggesting children changed their lie and truth-telling behavior depending on the context. However, it is important to note that most children rarely are asked by strangers to lie or testify against strangers. Moreover, in the Parent Absent and Parent Present condition, only about half the children reported that their parents broke the puppet (Talwar et al., 2004).

Hays and Carver’s study (2014) examined whether lying to children affects their subsequent honesty. They had one hundred and eighty-six children between three to seven, split into groups of preschool children (3.5 to 5 yrs) and school-aged children (5 to 7 yrs). Using a modified temptation resistance paradigm, children were asked to guess toys that were placed behind them. Participants were randomly assigned into one of two conditions: a lie condition (children were told a lie before the game) or no lie condition (children were not told a lie). During the game, the experimenter was interrupted and told the children not to peek to the toy. When the experimenter came back, they asked the children whether they peeked at the toy. The younger children were more likely to peek at the toy, and children who were lied to were more likely to peek. There were no subsequent lying behavior effects when experimenters lied to preschool children, whereas there were increased subsequent lying behavior effects when experimenters lied to school-aged children, suggesting school-aged children can modify their truth and lie-telling behaviors. This study seems to suggest that adults can influence the lying behavior of children. However, the study does not provide a causal explanation for and is unable to explain, why school-aged children are more likely to lie. In addition, there may be other variables that cause school-aged children to lie. One reason may be that the children know they are in an experiment, believe they will never see the experimenter again, and feel confident about lying. In addition, children need to peek at the toy before lying. The children who choose not to peek may conceptualise and value honesty more than the group of children who choose to peek and lie. Also, the experiment uses strangers – someone with no relationship to the children – to lie to the children, which does not reflect reality. Children may react differently if it were their parents who lied to them, as there may be positive or negative consequences for lying to parents (Hays & Carver, 2014).

Sodian, Taylor, Harris, and Perner (1991) suggest that lies for personal gain and reward emerge during preschool. In the study, forty-two children (divided into fourteen subjects of two- year-olds, fourteen subjects of three-year-olds, and fourteen subjects of four-year-olds) were assessed. Of interest was whether they could hide the location of a truck driver from the experimenter. The child was taught how to hide the toy driver into five inverted cups while another person had their eyes closed. The experimenter left the room, giving the instruction to hide the driver so another experimenter would not be able to tell which cup the driver is under. If the child left clues, the experimenter asked questions such as, “can you do something to the tracks so the [experimenter 2] won’t find the driver?” These questions and hints allowed the child the chance to remove visible clues. Children were scored by the number of hints they needed. The two- and three-year-olds group needed more hints than the four-year-olds group. There were some two- and three-year-olds who removed evidence before the experimenter asked questions and gave hints though, suggesting two- and three-year-olds are capable in creating deceptive strategies. Additionally, most children in each group had some kind of deceptive strategy such as producing a misleading gesture, although four-year-olds created more deceptive strategies. The results suggest that there is an age difference in understanding how to deceive people, as two- and three-year-olds require more prompting to produce misleading gestures and remarks. It also appears that children are capable of learning deception strategies, even if they do not fully understand the act of deception (Sodian et al., 1991). It is possible the researcher could have been leading the children into making deceptive strategies (e.g. pointing at the tire truck marks to the children) without the children understanding that what they were doing was deceptive.


The development of deception is a very natural and normal process of growing up. From the studies reviewed, children become better liars with age although some children as young as two and three show some deceptive strategies without prompting. In addition, children may lie or tell the truth for different reasons depending on the social context and with whom the children is interacting with (a parent versus a stranger). Also, deception requires children to be successful at both verbal and nonverbal behaviors. Understanding the development of lying is important for understanding how to better educate children and create developmental programs as well as within legal settings.



Hays, C., & Carver, L. (2014). Follow the liar: The effect of adult lies on children’s honesty. Developmental Science.

Heyman, G. D., Luu, D. H., & Lee, K. (2009). Parenting by lying. Journal of Moral Education, 38(3), 353–369.

Lewis, M. (1993). The Development of Deception. In Lying and Deception in Everyday Life, Edited by: Lewis, M. and Saarni, C. 106–125. New York: Guilford.

Lewis, M., Stanger, C., & Sullivan, M. (1989). Deception in 3-year-olds. Developmental Psychology, pp. 25, 439–443.

Robinson, W. P. 1996. Deceit, Delusion and Detection, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


Sodian, B., Taylor, C., Harris, P. L., & Perner, J. (1991). Early deception and the child’s theory of mind: False Trails and Genuine. Child Development. 62(3), 468–483.

Talwar, V., & Lee, K. (2002). Development of lying to conceal a transgression: Children’s Control of Expressive Behavior during Verbal Deception. International Journal of Behavioral Development, pp. 26, 436–444.

Talwar, V., Lee, K., Bala, N., & Lindsay, R. C. L. (2004). children’s lie-telling to conceal a parent’s transgression: Legal Implications. Law and Human Behavior. 28, 411–435.

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    Psychology Lab Report Example: Brain Cerebral Hemispheres Laterality- Dowel Rod Experiment
  • Case study
    Analysis of Common Alcohol Screening Tools
    Undergrad. (yrs 3-4)
  • Coursework
    Critique of Western Approaches to Psychological Science
  • Term paper
    Challenges of Supporting Mental Health Patients in the Community
    Undergrad. (yrs 3-4)
  • Term paper
    To what extent does Social Psychology Contribute to our Understanding of Current Events
  • Research paper
    Patient Centered Care and Dementia
  • Research paper
    Age and Belongingness
  • Essay (any type)
    Prolonged Grief Disorder
    Undergrad. (yrs 1-2)
  • Essay (any type)
    Five-Factor Personality Model vs The Six-Factor Personality Model
    Undergrad. (yrs 3-4)
  • Essay (any type)
    Counselling Session and Person-Centered Approach
  • Essay (any type)
    Psychosocial Development Theories
    Undergrad. (yrs 3-4)
  • Essay (any type)
    Student Bias Against Female Instructors
    Undergrad. (yrs 3-4)
  • Essay (any type)
    Personal Construct Theory
    Undergrad. (yrs 1-2)
  • Essay (any type)
    Can Personality Predict a Person's Risk of Psychological Distress
    Undergrad. (yrs 3-4)

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