Sample Psychology Paper on Psychological Influences of Abnormal Behavior

Diagnosis and treatment

Abnormal psychology focuses on abnormal behavior in a clinical setting. It covers different psychological problems, such as personality disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorders. It is majorly characterized by abnormal behaviors that affect multiple areas of human life. The identified articles involve different psychological influences that cause abnormal behaviors among the people, such as anxiety disorders (such as generalized anxiety disorder), mood disorders (bipolar disorder and depression), and neurodevelopmental disorders (autism spectrum or intellectual disability disorder). Other disorders identified include neurocognitive disorders and personality disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), avoidant personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder. The most common treatment identified by Hunsley et al. (2014) is psychological interventions to treat the identified mental disorders in the five articles.

Summary of Biological, Psychological, and Sociocultural Factors that contribute to the development of psychological disorders

Walter et al. (2014) examined both pre and post-treatment trajectories for residential and outpatient posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for veterans across the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System in the United States. According to him, PTSD is caused by different factors such as genetics, life stressors, lack of support, neurological factors, traumatic event, previous trauma, or persistent mental health condition. This is further affirmed by Hunsley et al. (2014), who identify different causes and propose psychological interventions as the best treatment option. Another article by Koenders et al. (2014)examines“both temporal directions of the association between negative and positive life events and depressive and mania symptomatology and functional impact of mood disturbances” (p.56). The study shows that bipolar disorder (B I and B II) is associated with different risk factors such as genetics (living in a family with a history of this disorder), high stress, gender, and substance abuse. These articles show that most of the mental disorders result from almost similar risk factors such as genetics and stress among the affected people.

History of Abnormal psychology

The history of abnormal psychology dates back to the 12th century when people believed that demons, worship, and witchcraft caused most disorders. During this era (12-16th century), people used cruel methods in dealing with mental disorders such as restraint of the victims, severe beating, and imprisonment. However, the psychological community introduced some changes in mental illness during the 18th century. The psychologists began training healthcare practitioners to provide friendly treatment of the mentally ill people. However, the mistreatment of people with mental disorders still prevailed in some parts of the world. Everything changed in the 19th century because most people developed a positive perception regarding mental disorders. This change was spearheaded by Dorothea Dix, who started a revolution in how the community viewed people with mental disorders. She brought many changes in abnormal psychology by building mental hospitals in Japan, Europe, and America.

Further changes emerged in the 20th century with different agencies and government Acts that financed mental health institutions. These Acts, coupled with government regulations, ended inhumane mistreatment of mentally-ill people. The 21st century is characterized by studying biological, social, physical, and psychological factors that cause different mental disorders (Walter et al., 2014; Hunsley et al., 2014; Kofler et al., 2015; Sadikaj et al., 2013). This century is also characterized by the invention of alternative treatments aimed at changing brain chemistry, neurotransmission challenges, and hormonal imbalances without using prescription medication.

Summary of identified articles

The identified articles focus on mental disorders, their effect on the normal functioning of the affected individuals, and the efficacy of available psychological interventions. They show how mental disorders can affect children and adult people, especially middle school learners and veterans suffering from ADHD and PSTD. Kofler et al. (2015), Sadikaj et al. (2013), and Koenders et al. (2014) show how different mental disorders such as ADHD, borderline personality disorder, and BD affect the life of the affected individuals in terms of social interaction in various perspectives. Other studies by Hunsley et al. (2014) and Walter et al. (2014) bring hope to individuals with various mental disorders by examining the efficacy and effectiveness of psychological interventions in treating these conditions. Generally, the five articles identify the effect of mental disorders on the affected individuals’ daily lives and examine the effectiveness of psychological interventions in treating the same compared to medication.

Summary of Research designs and conduct research

Research design is the overall strategy used by researchers to logically and coherently integrate various study components, thus ensuring effective answering of a research problem. The five studies used different research designs to collect data, analyze, and make conclusions. Hunsley et al. (2014) adopted a systematic literature review design by applying Meta-analyses to review the efficacy and effectiveness of psychological treatments. The article used previous quantitative literature reviews published between 2000 and 2012 to collect secondary data. This is different from studies by Walter et al. (2014), Koenders et al. (2014), and Kofler et al. (2015), which used descriptive research design in collecting quantitative data and analyzing it using statistical tools such as t-tests and Pearson chi-squares. This design involved collecting primary data from the respondents through the filling of questionnaires in Walter et al. (2014). On the other hand, Kofler et al. (2015) used latent growth curve modeling (LGM) in analyzing longitudinal data. Similarly, Sadikaj et al. (2013) adopted descriptive research design by using the event-contingent recording (ECR) method to “examine within-person processes linking perceptions of others’ behavior with quarrelsome behavior and negative affect in naturally occurring social interactions among individuals with BPD and community controls” (Sadikaj et al., 2013, p.198).

Issues of ethics

It is only one study that does not involve any ethical considerations out of the five articles. A survey conducted by Hunsley et al. (2014) did not involve any ethical considerations because it entails reviewing previous studies on the same topic. Other studies by Walter et al. (2014), Koenders et al. (2014), Kofler et al. (2015), and Sadikaj et al. (2013) involved ethical considerations because they are based on primary data collected from the respondents. The ethical consideration that is common in the four articles is the signing of consent forms among the respondents before filling the questionnaires to show that they have willingly agreed to be involved in the survey process. For instance, all the respondents in Koenders et al. (2014) “signed informed consent before entering the study” (p.56). Other ethics observed in this study is keeping the names of the respondents anonymous to guarantee their privacy.

How issues of ethics are viewed

The identified ethical issues in the five articles significantly influence the relationship between psychologists and their clients. The articles show that both licensed and unlicensed professionals in abnormal psychology should uphold higher ethical standards while interacting with customers. For example, clients’ information should remain confidential and beware of issues like bartering or asking for sexual favors from their clients.

Identified Gap

The five articles have a common drawback that makes their findings inconclusive and unhelpful to individuals with mental disorders, health practitioners, and policymakers. They majorly focus on the identification of the effects of various mental disorders on children and adults. The focus is on testing the effectiveness of psychological interventions but fails to specify interventions that treat particular disorders. Instead, they only prove that psychological treatments can treat most mental disorders but fail to specify which ones. Therefore, there is a need to specify the mental disorders that can be treated using specific psychological interventions.

Research question

The identified gap will be filled by answering the following research question: What is the most effective psychological intervention to treat PSTD among adult people?

Research design

The identified gap will be filled by adopting a descriptive research design. It will involve testing the effectiveness of a specific psychological intervention, especially cognitive-behavioral intervention using two cohorts: control and test groups. The two groups will involve people with PSTD, but only the experimental group will be subjected to psychological intervention for four weeks. The outcome will be recorded and compared using different statistical tools to determine whether there is any improvement among the learners in the experimental group.

Ethical Issues

The study will involve two ethical issues: seeking consent from the respondents, privacy, and confidentiality of collected information. These issues will be addressed by adopting three approaches. First, the respondents will sign a consent form to indicate their willingness to participate in the survey. Secondly, their names will remain anonymous for security purposes. Lastly, the collected data will only be used for research purposes and discarded after use to ensure information does not get into the wrong hands.


The prevalence of mental disorders has been increasing, and little has been done to determine the most effective psychological interventions for treating the same. This is affirmed by analyzed articles that only focus on its effects and generalization of psychological interventions for treating these conditions instead of being specific. This creates a gap that will be filled by determining the most effective psychological treatment for PSTD among adults.



Hunsley, J., Elliott, K., &Therrien, Z. (2014). The efficacy and effectiveness of psychological treatments for mood, anxiety, and related disorders. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne55(3), 161.

Koenders, M. A., Giltay, E. J., Spijker, A. T., Hoencamp, E., Spinhoven, P., &Elzinga, B. M. (2014). Stressful life events in bipolar I and II disorder: cause or consequence of mood symptoms?. Journal of Affective Disorders161, 55-64.

Kofler, M. J., Larsen, R., Sarver, D. E., &Tolan, P. H. (2015). Developmental trajectories of aggression, prosocial behavior, and social-cognitive problem-solving in emerging adolescents with clinically elevated attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms. Journal of abnormal psychology124(4), 1027.

Sadikaj, G., Moskowitz, D. S., Russell, J. J., Zuroff, D. C., & Paris, J. (2013). Quarrelsome behavior in borderline personality disorder: Influence of behavioral and affective reactivity to perceptions of others. Journal of abnormal psychology122(1), 195.

Walter, K. H., Varkovitzky, R. L., Owens, G. P., Lewis, J., & Chard, K. M. (2014). Cognitive processing therapy for veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder: A comparison between outpatient and residential treatment. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology82(4), 551.