The Usefulness of Psychological Research

Exam questions that require you to “assess the usefulness” of psychological research have a high “waffle factor” potential (throwing everything you can think of at the question in the hope some of it might stick) and can be difficult to successfully negotiate unless you have a clear planned structure.

As a general rule, therefore, try to structure your revision around broad questions about:

  • the usefulness to psychology.
  • the usefulness or value of specific studies
  • practical applications and value to society.
  • useful for whom?

It’s also useful to narrow this down to key questions:

  • Is a psychological theory or model useful for the development of a psychological explanation? Give examples.
  • Is a psychology study useful for confirming, modifying or refuting a theory? Give examples.
  • Does an approach or a piece of research have beneficial practical applications for society? Give examples.
  • And don’t forget, always reflect on the question “Useful to whom?”: what may be useful to some may not be so useful for others.

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