Why Read Articles On Psychology?

Updated April 8, 2024by MyTherapist Editorial Team

Psychology articles – particularly those that are published in professional, academic, or scientific journals – can reveal quite fascinating information about the human brain, why we act the way we do, and what factors are more likely to cause certain mental health conditions. These same publications also reveal the results of studies conducted to evaluate the efficacy of treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy, couples counseling, and online therapy versus in-person counseling. 

In this post, we’ll discuss the many benefits that can result from reading psychology articles, as well as what to pay attention to when you’re reading a recently published research study. Perhaps you’ll discover information or consider questions that lead you to a more fulfilling life or healthier relationship dynamics!

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Want to learn more about what you read in a psychology article?

Many people may come across their first psychology article because they performed an internet search on a specific topic. For example, you or a loved one might have recently received a diagnosis of a mental disorder like post-partum depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or Alzheimer’s disease, and so you started asking questions online. Other people – like journalists, teachers, or writers – may read psychology articles because their job requires them to cite sources. Additionally, younger people might come across psychology articles when doing assignments for high school or collegiate-level coursework.

What if none of those descriptions apply to you – can anyone benefit from reading psychology articles? Absolutely. You don’t need to have a mental health diagnosis in order to glean important insights from psychology articles. Let’s explore some of the greatest benefits that people can enjoy from consulting articles on the topic of psychology.

Career preparation

While reading psychology articles can have an obvious appeal to people pursuing careers in psychiatry, counseling, and social work, people in diverse career fields can learn a lot from reading them, too. After all, communication skills are valued across nearly all work environments, and psychology articles can teach you ways to communicate more effectively with different personalities and within different hierarchies.

Maybe there are certain risks associated with following a particular career path; in this case, psychology research studies can give you up-to-date information on the classifications of risks. In this way, you may be more prepared during a hiring interview to ask the company what programs they have in place to support people working in higher-risk roles (i.e., emergency medical responders, military personnel, and hospital workers). 

Stay informed

In most careers – and especially within the psychology domain – keeping up with evidence-based practices is essential to job productivity and performance. Science is self-correcting, and sometimes what we know ends up being proven inaccurate or incomplete later on down the road; in other situations, researchers discover new information that can complicate an existing issue or problem. 

You can probably think of many careers where it is important to stay informed on credible information and practices; OBGYN doctors, childcare providers, and family attorneys can all use information found in psychology articles, which tend to be applicable to many disciplines. If you think about it, using disproven or inaccurate information can be harmful when used in litigation and caring for vulnerable populations. 

Satiate curiosity

There’s nothing wrong with reading psychology articles just because you find them interesting – there is still so much to learn about the human mind, and studying phenomena like dreams, attachment styles, and neuroplasticity can be fascinating! 

Our brains, our behaviors, and the outside influences that can influence them are always under study, and the information is always changing. By reading frequent psychology journals, you can stay in the loop and be able to find out more about what’s going on in the psychology world. 

Maybe, for example, you’ve been pondering the idea of having children with your partner, but you doubt your abilities because you didn’t have a secure attachment with your caregiver. Reading psychology articles in the parenting realm can potentially quell some of your reservations or confirm that now might not be the best time to have kids. 

Pop psychology rarely does psychology articles justice

Entertainment news outlets may often take the findings of these journals and put them in language that makes it easier for the general public to understand. However, in practice, simplifying complex studies can also distort the findings to make it more exciting for the public. A finding that has gray areas or nuanced results may not be exciting for many, but this is often the reality of research studies in psychology – the reader finishes reading the study with more questions than answers. Most people prefer to have a definitive yes or no answer, but life isn’t like that.

Consider a hypothetical study discussing how certain food causes cancer. The study reveals that there may be some link, but the sample group (number of participants in the experiment) was small, there was not much control for outside variables that can impact the results, and more research is needed. 

A news publication may take this study and imply that “X” food definitively causes cancer, downplaying the uncertainty highlighted by the study authors. While the headline may be an attention-grabber, the simplified article may lead to misinformation proliferation. This is why it’s important that you read these journals and see what they say.

How to maximize understanding of psychology articles

Psychology articles tend to have a similar organizational scheme and certain sections. Knowing how psychology articles are structured can help you avoid the pitfalls associated with comprehending dense information; meaning, research published in academic journals typically includes psychological or medical jargon and language used to describe methods used in gathering and analyzing detaila. 

Reading and comprehending lengthy psychology articles takes patience and a high reading level, especially if you are unfamiliar with many fundamental concepts in psychology. That said, you don’t need a doctor or psychologist to translate a 20-page article into a one-paragraph summary. Most articles have a format that is created by the American Psychological Association (APA), and when you understand the structure, it should be easier to find pertinent information. Let’s explore each section of a typical psychology article.

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The abstract

Each peer-reviewed psychology article almost always begins with an abstract, which is a longer paragraph (around 150 to 250 words) intending to summarize the key points within the text. Think of it as a “trailer” to a research paper, which gives a “full-length film.” It’s a good way for readers to know what they’re going to read, and it can help you determine if the article is interesting or if it’s relevant to your studies. Your abstract should contain your introduction to the topic, hypothesis, methods used to gather and analyze details, a broad overview of the results, and pertinent information for further discussion.


The introduction is the beginning of the actual paper. It tells you some background information on the subject, a review of other studies that have contributed to essential findings related to your topic, areas within the domain requiring further investigation, etc.  By the end of the introduction, the reader should understand background details on the topic, why the researcher decided to conduct their experiment, and what the researcher believed would happen.


The methods section describes the participants who engaged in the study, instruments used to gather and analyze details, and different outside variables that were accounted for in interpreting results. The number of participants is important, because studies with small sample sizes (i.e., fewer than 20 people) may make it difficult to generalize results to a greater portion of the population. This section can also tell you where participants came from, or other important details, such as their gender, age, socioeconomic background, or pre-existing conditions.

Consider a study where someone is studying the impact of online therapy for people living with early onset Parkinson’s disease. Half of the study sample is assigned to a waitlist control group while another is designated to receive online talk therapy. While the researcher may control for variables like age, gender, and race, it is possible there are other variables they may not have considered to control. For example, will participants in the second group benefit more or less if they have an in-home caregiver compared to members of the same group who are independent? 

Finally, the methods section reveals important information about how the researcher gathered and interpreted their daetails. They may have used surveys, medical device readings, anecdotes, or observations to gather details, all of which range in their degree of subjectivity. One question many researchers must consider when using surveys is that a respondent can provide one set of answers at one time, but those answers can change even within the hour or day. 


The results information contains the findings from the research study. It is very important to read through this section carefully and to look up things that are unfamiliar. Many people may confuse the results section with the discussion section that follows; while they may sound similar, the difference is that the results section merely reports the findings (without any consideration of implications). Think of the results section as the untouched evidence at a crime scene and the discussion as the narrative put together by the forensic scientist (based upon that evidence).


Now that you see the results, you may wonder about the implications of them. What does it mean that 75% of participants experienced a reduction in anxiety symptoms six months after participating in 12 weekly online therapy sessions? Is that a good thing? Why did 25% of the sample – which may be significant – not experience those same benefits?

It is in the discussion section where researchers will expound upon the strengths and limitations of the study. In many cases, they will recommend that future studies take place in order to confirm or disprove new findings and questions. That’s the beauty of science and research – while your hypothesis may be confirmed in the process of a trial, it is more often than not the case that the researcher will formulate twice as many questions based upon study results.


It is understandable that many people might skip the references section when perusing a psychology article; however, it is in this section where you can get a good idea of how credible the study may be. That’s because you can look up all the sources that the researcher utilized, in alphabetical order, within this list.

Check the dates of publication included in the citations – if they are mostly within a decade of the study’s publication date, that’s a good sign that the researcher relied on up-to-date information. If researchers use academic journals to cite their information, you can look up the names of the various publications. Websites ending in .gov or .edu are generally more credible than sites ending in .com or .net, which may exist for commercial purposes. Finally, if there’s a part of the study that piqued your interest or confused you, you can click on the study cited to read more.

Is it okay to skim a psychology article?

Skimming an article does not mean you are lazy. It’s a valuable strategy used to save time and get the gist of what the article is trying to say. By doing a thorough read in the beginning, you may realize the article is not what you’re looking for. Go to the important sections of the paper and give them a quick read through. If the contents are to your liking, read from the beginning. If they are not, you may want to find another article. You can also use a keyboard shortcut of CTRL + F to find certain terms within a PDF or web-page.

Perhaps the best way to process the information in the article is to take notes. Highlight the important parts. If there are any words you don’t understand, take note of them and then look them up later on so you can have a fuller context. Highlight the key points about the findings and the tools used. Take notes. These can be valuable for your studies, as you have notes that summarize the key points rather than having to consult the article again. Finally, if something raises your curiosity, you can always write out a question in the margins of the study and launch a personal online search later.

Want to learn more about what you read in a psychology article?

I read a psychology article and think i may need to talk to someone

If you’re still confused about certain parts of the paper, even with research, there is no shame in talking to a professional about any lingering questions. Talk to a professor, a colleague, or anyone else with a research background who may be able to understand and simplify the article’s key points.

But what do you do if you read a psychology article because you were concerned about some symptoms, and now you think that you might be experiencing a mental health disorder? Try not to be alarmed or feel silly about getting worked up, if that is the case. Know that getting answers to upsetting or uncomfortable questions may be better than ruminating on extreme possibilities.

There are in-person and online counselors who are more than willing and experienced enough to answer your psychology questions. Based on where you live, meeting with a counselor may be more or less difficult. Many people find that online therapy is a great outlet for getting information and attending counseling for the first time – that’s because through online therapy platforms like MyTherapist, you can book virtual sessions at convenient times and chat with your counselor from any location with a stable internet connection. You can even text them directly in the middle of reading a relevant psychology article!

Speaking of which, here’s a psychology article for you to consider discussing the efficacy of online therapy. Spoiler alert: the study discussion section (Is online therapy effective?) reports that online therapy can be just as effective as traditional in-person therapy! Of course, by now you should know the sections to investigate in order to confirm the reliability of this information. 

This article links to a study originally published in Frontiers in Psychiatry, which is a credible institution. Researchers found that both younger and older adults benefited from receiving online therapy for depression during the COVID-19 pandemic. The APA separately reported that 96% of psychologists who responded to the 2021 COVID-19 Telehealth Practitioner Survey agreed that online therapy was effective.

Now it’s time to practice – what questions emerged for you after reading those findings? You might wonder how many psychologists answered the 2021 survey, as there is a considerable difference between 20 and 2,000. Alternatively, you might wonder how researchers confirmed the efficacy of online therapy for depression – what instruments did they use to gather and analyze details, and how reliable are these methods?

If you’re coming up with more questions after reading this article, that’s great! You are already starting to think like an astute researcher. 


In the instances when information eludes you, or you find psychology article language confusing and frustrating, don’t hesitate to reach out to an online counselor through MyTherapist. They are not here to judge you for what you do not know; instead, their role is to empower you to make the best, healthiest decisions for yourself and your loved ones. 

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