Planning your Psychology extended essay – designing your question

You’ve chosen your topic – now it’s time to temporarily design your question. Why ‘temporarily’? Because your reading may suggest a stronger argument than the first one that occurs to you. It is important to keep reading peer-reviewed articles in psychology journals for several reasons, before designing your final question.

2. Designing your question. Your topic may be a very common one, such as an interest in the eating disorder anorexia nervosa. You might think it’s obvious that seeing very thin fashion models on social media and in online magazines affects the incidence of this eating disorder. So you start reading, with the question in mind: ” To what extent does the media influence the development of anorexia nervosa in teenage girls?” BUT, if you stop reading pop psychology and start reading psychology journals, you will discover that the evidence for a direct link between the media and anorexia nervosa as thin as the models themselves. 

So, read more widely in psychology journals, and you will find other much more interesting and empirically supported questions. Such as “To what extent is body dissatisfaction linked to male anorexia nervosa?” Or “To what extent can biological factors influence the development of anorexia nervosa?” Or To what extent can a desire for control explain the development of anorexia?”

EE designing RQ

Examples of good EE questions abound online, but the main principle to remember is that it should be looking at to what extent (i.e. how much) one particular factor affects one particular behaviour, including the progress of one mental disorder. Don’t introduce extra factors or behaviours and you’ll be OK!

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