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Developing a research question

Before you start searching, it can be helpful to help identify the key aspects of your question. Consider as well if there are any possible synonyms/related terms for each aspect of your question. Your starting question can be broad, but ultimately your goal should be to narrow it down to something you can answer within the scope of your class project.

Start with a broad topic

Topic 1: Cognitive dissonance and shopping

Topic 2: Cognitive dissonance and dangerous work

Translate the topic into a question

Question 1: Do compulsive shoppers (or impulse buyers) experience cognitive dissonance?

Question 2: Do employees in dangerous jobs experience cognitive dissonance?

Refine the question using more specific (or nuanced) language

Refined Question 1: What tactics do compulsive shoppers employ to rationalize their purchases?

Refined Question 2: How do individuals who are employed in physically dangerous positions justify the risks

Strategies for narrowing your question

  • Who is my population group? Age? Gender?
  • Is there a location I want to focus on? North America? Europe? Western countries?
  • Are there particular types of studies I want to find? Empirical?

Develop an initial list of search terms to find related literature

Start thinking about alternative terms, or related terms, you might want to search in the library databases. This will help you find the most relevant literature. 

  • Compulsive shopping: Shopping disorder, restraint, moderation, self-discipline, financial literacy
  • Dangerous work: labour, danger pay, construction or trades
  • Cognitive dissonance: justification, reasons, rationalize, excuse

Literature Searching

For detailed instructions on how to conduct literature reviews, see the "Search Strategies & Literature Reviews" page in the MRU Library Psychology guides.

Writing and research guides

Develop your own synthesis matrix to organize your notes and structure your literature review

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