Psychology Essay

5 Unique Features of a Psychology Essay

A great psychology essay must have several unique features when compared to any other type of essays. Here are 5 things you must include.  

Psychology is the study of human behaviors and the underlying human mind. Having developed into a major academic discipline, psychology now covers a broad array of concepts and areas of study. Similarly, courses in psychology are as diverse as they are unique. Creating an essay for any of these courses requires you to attain not only the guidelines for a general standard essay, but also some unique features only relevant and critical in psychology. The present guideline identifies and briefly discusses 5 of these unique features of a psychology essay.   

Features Unique to an Essay in Psychology

  • Question-Dependent Focus

One of the most notable features of a psychology essay is being question-dependent. What the essay covers, and how the issue or concern under review is approached highly relies on the question asked. The same case study may yield completely unique essays for the same student, if the question posed differs. It is common for professors to twitch the same essay requirements for each student lot with a seemingly slight variation, yet such a small variation ultimately changes the entire essay requirements.

As such, the first and perhaps most important steps of creating an essay for a psychology course is to understand the question. If you miss or forget any element of the question, regardless of how minor such an element is, your essay will either fail or barely pass. Always remember that an essay in psychology is largely determined by the question posed. Your essay plan should start on and with the question. Understand the question first, before you start even the first sentence of the essay. Otherwise, no matter how well you eventually write the essay, you will fail.   

  • Linked Structural Sequence

Secondly, unlike any other essay in the social sciences, a psychology essay heavily relies on presentation sequence. Psychology is based on the cause-effect sequencing of rationale, where certain mental processes predict a certain behaviour. The structure of a psychology essay therefore, must adopt this cause-effect sequence. The essay starts with the background information that triggers the issue in focus, and then develops into a discussion of effects.

More than any other type of essays therefore, essays in psychology require, demand, and even mandate detailed background information. Rather than simply focus on one the issue identified by the essay requirements, always go further and highlight the predicating factors of the issue as part of the discussion. The essay must always approach the discussion from a cause-effect approach, and then link the cause to the effect.

Caution must however be taken in ensuring that both cause and effect are well linked. The essay should always show how the cause triggers the effect, and vice versa. Always start with the background of the issue under discussion, and then develop into the issue with logical flow. Remember that any issue addressed by the essay is either a cause or an effect, which should link to the other convincingly. This sequencing is mandatory yet only unique for essays in psychology.

  • Case-Dependent but Globalised Themes

The third unique feature of psychology essays is being case dependent. As Watson (1913) defined psychology, thus is the science of behaviour and the mental processes that trigger such behaviour among organisms (the standard accepted definition of psychology). The concept under discussion in an essay may be a standard concept in psychology, but the essay must always relate that concept to the case under review. The mental processes involved in every selected case have district implications to the issues.

To exemplify, the essay may be focused on the notion of drug abuse and addiction. However, the focus of the essay will vary depending on whether the issue is evaluated for African-American youth, Caucasian youths, liberal populations in Western Europe, slum dwellers, or music celebrities. To each of these target populations, the standard knowledge on drug addiction will apply, but with varied implications for each case.

Consequently, while the essay may be focused on a general and standard area in psychology (i.e. drug abuse), the essay must also apply such a concept to the case study given. Indeed, when the theme of the essay may have a global scope, the essay must retain its focus on the case study given. Such globalised yet localised themes are only unique to essays in psychology.    

  • Evaluative Judgements

Not only do essays in psychology ascribe to case-dependent focus, but they also require an evaluative judgement. The essay always renders judgement for each specific case, based on an informed evaluation of current knowledge. For example, addressing the case of drug abuse must first start with an evaluation of whether there is such an abuse. As such, psychology essays therefore always carry summative judgements that are backed by evaluations of why the judgement is made, for every case under discussion. 

  • In-Depth Referencing

Being a science, psychology is a fact-based discipline. As such, psychology essays require every statement to be backed by a reliable set of peer-reviewed literature. Even the evaluative judgements offered cannot be based on opinion, but credible reference as denoted by in-text citations. A good essay interlinks all statements with relevant citations, not only for the cause but also for the effect. Having a solid literature base of references always adds into the quality of any essay in psychology.     


In conclusion, a good essay in any psychology course needs much more that the standard requirements of an essay. The foregoing discussion has highlighted the main features that are unique to an essay in psychology, which while commendable in other disciplines, are mandatory in psychology. Always remember that a psychology essay has a question-dependent focus, links its form to the cause-effect sequence, is case-dependent despite covering globalized themes, incorporates evidenced evaluative judgement, and must be backed by in-depth referencing. Get this right, and your essay will score for quality with elegance.

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