How to write a psychology reaction paper

How to write a psychology reaction paper

How can you write an excellent reaction paper? Are there guidelines for writing a psychology reaction paper?

Psychologists speak with many people from different backgrounds. They try to understand human behavior and document findings. A reaction paper also called a response paper, analyzes such findings.

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Writing a response paper helps you develop skills to critically evaluate and synthesize material. It also allows you to learn how to react to what you have read.

Summary and reaction sections of a response paper

Psychology reaction papers are common college assignments that require you to evaluate and synthesize specific texts. After the evaluation, you need to provide a reaction.

A reaction paper includes a summary of a psychology document, a hypothesis, and a method of research. It should also have results, and conclusion sections.

To produce a reaction paper you need to analyze a particular psychology document. Identify its strengths and weaknesses.

You also need to write about the implications of the document. Your final paper should have a paragraph that summarizes the material you have analyzed.

It should have another section that gives your reaction. Here is how a response paper summary and reaction should look like;  


Write a concise and informative summary. Include the following: the name of the author, title, publication date, and publisher.

Highlight the author’s point of view in the material you are criticizing. Provide readers with a general idea of what the material is all about.

Include all vital information. Ensure your summary is objective and presents facts from the text. Avoid giving your personal opinion or reacting to the material at this point.


You can define reactionary paper as a piece of writing that shows your feelings about a particular matter. It includes analysis, discussion, and a conclusion on an issue.  You can use the following reaction questions to help you write your psychology reaction paper.

  • How is the content related to your life?
  • Does the content arouse any feelings inside you?
  • Has the information increased your understanding of the content?

How to write a response paper

A response paper or a reaction paper requires adequate preparation before you can start writing. You must read and understand a given text before expressing how you feel.

You must thoroughly read and reread the text before you can start evaluating it. Reading your text enables you to respond to ideas that the author implies.

You should do more than expressing your opinion. Furthermore, you can analyze the author’s main purpose. You should include the author’s purpose for writing the material.

When writing your response, you should write what you think about the text. Back up your views with evidence from the text you have analyzed. When you agree or disagree with what the author is saying, you have to provide evidence for your response.

You can also connect your text to previous class discussions that are relevant. When analyzing multiple texts, you can describe how they relate to each other.

You can write different types of reaction papers on various fields like movies, field trips, lectures, or class discussions. The following steps will help you write a high-quality reaction paper and get you a higher grade

1.     Understand your assignment

Read your assignment and understand the requirements before you can begin writing your response. Seek clarification from your instructors where you are not sure.

Some assignments may require you to relate your analysis to a particular class discussion. Others may require you to present your personal opinion.

For example, you may be asked to give a personal opinion on a movie. This can be a reaction paper assignment that requires you to understand how to make a reaction paper about a movie.

Research and seek clarification from your instructor in areas that are not clear. You can search online or in your school library. Look at a short reaction paper example for insights.

2.     Read the assigned psychology text

Read your text more than once. Understand the author’s perspective, main points, and overall ideas.

Thorough reading is essential because you are required to do more than giving your opinion. You need to give your opinion, synthesize and analyze texts.

Annotate your text as you read. Writing short notes in the margin allows you to locate important information. You may need this information when writing your psychology reaction paper.

3.     Evaluate your text

Evaluate the material you have read using helpful reaction questions. Here are some prompts you can consider

What problems have the author addresses in the text?

What are the author’s major points?

What are the author’s assumptions?

What evidence does the author provide?

Is the evidence relevant and credible?

What are the issues with the author’s argument? Identify strengths and weaknesses

If you are analyzing multiple texts, how do they relate to each other?

4.     Write your first reaction

After reading and understanding your text, you can start writing your first reaction paper for psychology. This initial reaction writing helps you point out ideas and put them down on paper.

5.     Write your psychology reaction paper

Organize your work to flow coherently from the first paragraph to the last using APA format. Do not jump from one point to the next in your reaction paper psychology.

Present one point and discuss it fully. A good structure helps you to organize your thoughts and make your work meaningful.

Your reaction paper should have an introduction, body, and conclusion paragraphs. This is how to write a psychology reaction paper in APA format:

Title page

Your title page is the first part of your reaction paper psychology. It should have a running head that includes the words “Running head” throughout your document.

This follows the APA style of formatting. You can look at the reaction paper title example online to see how a college paper heading is formatted. Craft an exciting title.

Introduction paragraph

Your introduction should include the name of the author and the text you want to analyze. State the place and year the material was published. Write about the significance of your paper and provide a thesis statement at the end of your introduction.

Thesis statement

After reading your material, find an angle of discussion and shape it into an argument. What you find interesting and important in the material you want to analyze should form your thesis statement.

Combine your opinions and observations about the text and form your thesis. This is the central message of your paper and a summary of your main points. Your thesis should be the last sentences of your introduction paragraph.

Psychology reaction paper summary

Your psychology reaction paper should present a brief summary of the text you have evaluated. Include main points, discussions, and results.

Provide questions you have addressed and participants involved in a study. Include interventions, and outcomes of study material. Summarize the main points of the material you have analyzed.

The summary should include the author’s significant points in a psychology document. Provide your readers with a general idea of what the material you have analyzed is all about.

Do not summarize all the details. Focus on the most essential information and the significant points.

Evaluate and analyze the text

The body paragraph of your paper is the main section of your document. This is where you present an in-depth analysis of psychology text. When writing this section, ensures that you have read and understood the text you are about to critique.

Analyze and evaluate the author’s thesis statement, research methods, and conclusion. Provide detailed analysis and discuss the strengths and the weaknesses of each section.

Examine the author’s arguments and write down the problems you have noticed in the information provided. Discuss what the author might have overlooked when presenting arguments.

Evaluate the evidence provided to back up the author’s viewpoint. Is the evidence credible? Are they from reliable sources? Do they have relevance to what is being discussed?

How strong is the evidence provided? Check the interventions and main outcomes. Are they relevant?


The final paragraph of your reaction paper should highlight the main points of the arguments. It should provide a summary of your reaction and restate your thesis statement in a meaningful way.


This section should list the sources you have used to write your paper. Follow the required APA format and arrange your sources in alphabetical order. Correctly citing your sources is vital to avoid plagiarism cases.

What you include in the reference section are the sources you discovered during your research work and used in your paper. A simple reaction paper example can show you how to organize references in your paper.

Edit and proofread your social psychology reaction paper

A reaction paper can be 500 words or 5 pages. Make sure it has the correct length.

Similar to other academic papers, check your psychology reaction paper for grammar, punctuation, and spelling issues. Make sure your paper is error-free.

An error-free paper will make your work more credible. You will get higher marks for producing a well-polished reaction paper.

Check the analysis and evidence you have provided. Make sure they make sense and flow from one argument to the next.

Double-check the instructions provided and ensure you have followed them as required. Ask a trusted friend or classmate to help you counter-check your work and make corrections before you can hit the submit button.

What is a joint reaction paper in psychology?

This type of reaction paper allows you to respond to joint fields such as humanities and theology. When working on a joint reaction paper, you should identify how these two papers relate to each other.

Psychology reaction paper topics

When writing a reaction paper, you need to select a topic that interests you. You might be given different topic ideas. You can also be asked to come up with a psychology reaction paper topic.

When selecting a topic, you should conduct thorough research to find a suitable reaction paper topic. The topic you choose should not be too wide that you will not manage to comprehensively research and write about it.

Narrow it down so you can have focused research. Make sure it is not too narrow that you cannot find enough relevant information. Here are topic ideas for your psychology reaction paper

  • Types of psychological disorders and therapy
  • Human development
  • Human cognition
  • Personal perceptions

1.     Human cognition topics

When writing about human cognition, you explain how people think. This is an exciting topic because it explains how people’s thoughts are shaped.

It also shows why people think the way they do. Some of the topics you can select in this category include language, decision making, thinking, and intelligence.

2.     Psychology disorder topics

A Suggestion in this category is treatment modality. Ensure your findings are relatable to most people. This will make your work interesting and engaging to readers.

Mental disorder topics are very intriguing, and there are many aspects of this topic that are yet to be explored. You can look at how the human mind processes different messages.

Some topics to consider include eating disorders, phobias, depression, antisocial personalities. This type of information is helpful to scientists, doctors, and patients.

3.     Human development topics

How human beings develop is an interesting topic to study and analyze. This is because human development from one stage to another is instrumental in what a person becomes in the future.

You can consider topics in early childhood like language development, attachment, and social learning. Adult development topic, such as dementia, is an option you can pick.

Other possibilities include gender roles, parental development, learning disabilities, among others. Select a topic that interests you.

4.     Historical figures in psychology

This is another field you can consider writing about. Conduct research on various famous people in the psychology field and write about them. Look at a simple reaction paper example that handles historical figures in the psychology field.

You can write about an individual’s life, like their profession, biography, and how they contributed to psychology. This topic does not have to be boring. You can research and discover interesting people in the history of psychology.

You can write about B.F. Skinner or William Jones. Make sure your reaction paper is interesting and engaging.

How to write a reaction paper for psychology

When writing a psychology reaction paper, you need to use appropriate language. Your language should be respectful to participants and to your readers.

Make sure you avoid bias and write clearly and accurately. When analyzing your psychology text, acknowledges participants and describes individuals appropriately.

The best way to acknowledge participants and individuals is by using an active voice. Avoid using “men” when you are referring to both men and women.

Apply sensitivity when using labels or referring to race or ethnicity. For example, you can write African American or Chinese American when referring to these races. 

Avoid using clinical terms that are unclear and broad. For example, when using the word “at-risk”, make sure what you are talking about is clear to your readers.

You can say “at risk of mental disorder.” Avoid referring to people with a physical or mental disorder.

For example, you can use the words “older adults” instead of “the elderly.” When discussing socially dominant groups, avoid always starting conversations with a dominant group.

For example, instead of always starting conversations with “men and women,” you can start with “women and men.” Starting conversations with less dominant groups or with minority groups help to reduce bias in your writing.

Selecting a psychology document for analysis

Similar to most academic papers, a reaction paper requires thorough research. You need to find a topic that is focused and current.

You also need to find psychology materials you can evaluate. Your instructor may provide you with a psychology document. Sometimes you can be asked to research and find one for yourself.  

There are many articles you can research and choose from. They include methodological articles, reports, commentaries, brief reports, and other published content. You can consider the following types of articles

1.     Empirical studies

You can research and select an empirical study that gathers and analyzes data. These articles have an introduction, method of research, results of the investigation, and discussions.

2.     Literature reviews

These are research papers where an author analyzed previously published work to define a problem. The author summarizes findings and identifies gaps and inconsistencies in the articles. The author makes suggestions for further research.

3.     Theoretical articles

response paper

These articles will follow how a specific story develops and refine or expand. Theoretical papers are similar to literature reviews.

Tips on how to write a reaction paper psychology

Writing an excellent reaction paper requires you to follow provided instructions and guidelines. The following tips will enable you to produce a high-quality reaction paper.

1.     Critique the text

When writing your reaction paper, make sure you critique and evaluate the text provided. Examine the author’s ideas and write what you think about them.

Point out the ideas you agree with and those you do not agree with. Give reasons for agreeing or disagreeing with the author. Identify your strongest and most convincing reactions that give you an angle of discussion.

2.     Organize your paper

Organize your work starting from the introduction, body, and conclusion paragraphs. Each body paragraph should critique a different section of the text.

Structure your arguments into topics and discuss each in a different paragraph. Include subheadings that make your work easy to read and understand.

3.     Find quotations

Finding your quotations will help you support the points you make when you are reacting to a text. This is the evidence from the text you are analyzing that will back up your point of view.  

You can research online and find how to write a reaction paper psychology example. This will give you an idea of how to use quotations in your paper.

4.     Structure paragraphs

Start your paragraphs with a topic sentence. Discuss your topic sentence and present an author’s view, followed by your reaction to the idea.

Your reaction should include sufficient details, comments, examples, quotations, and evaluation. Get insights from a reaction paper psychology example.

You can find helpful examples online when conducting your research. Such samples will provide you with valuable insights into different ways you can structure your paper.

5.     Follow instructions

Different instructors will give you different instructions that you should follow when writing your paper. Some of them may require you to provide a personal response to the text you are analyzing.

Other instructors may require you to analyze and evaluate a text. Make sure you understand your instructors as well as general requirements like formatting your work in APA style.

6.     Avoid using jargons

Write your reaction paper in simple, easy-to-understand language. Avoid jargon and complicated terms that are not necessary.

When you use complicated terms, it confuses your readers. Avoid jargon and complex terms that will force readers to check their dictionaries before understanding your text.

Write your paper in a straightforward and easy-to-understand style. You can use industry terms only .when necessary

7.     Reread your work

Read and reread your text several times before you can start your analysis. The first time you read your text, aim to familiarize yourself with it.

The second and subsequent readings should help you identify the main points, evidence provided, and the material’s significance. This way, you can identify strengths and weaknesses in the text.

Key takeaway

When writing a psychology reaction paper, thoroughly read and understand the text. Read your text more than once before starting to write a reaction paper.  

Remember to provide a summary, analyze and evaluate your text. Identify and describe the strengths and weaknesses in an author’s work.

Check an author’s main points and the evidence provided. Discuss their relevance in the text and give your opinion with evidence.

Write your paper in simple and easy-to-understand language. Avoid jargons that do not add value to your work. To learn more about psychology reaction papers, contact us.

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