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  • What Is a Case Study? | Definition, Examples & Methods

What Is a Case Study? | Definition, Examples & Methods

Published on May 8, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on June 22, 2023.

A case study is a detailed study of a specific subject, such as a person, group, place, event, organization, or phenomenon. Case studies are commonly used in social, educational, clinical, and business research.

A case study research design usually involves qualitative methods , but quantitative methods are sometimes also used. Case studies are good for describing , comparing, evaluating and understanding different aspects of a research problem .

Table of contents

When to do a case study, step 1: select a case, step 2: build a theoretical framework, step 3: collect your data, step 4: describe and analyze the case, other interesting articles.

A case study is an appropriate research design when you want to gain concrete, contextual, in-depth knowledge about a specific real-world subject. It allows you to explore the key characteristics, meanings, and implications of the case.

Case studies are often a good choice in a thesis or dissertation . They keep your project focused and manageable when you don’t have the time or resources to do large-scale research.

You might use just one complex case study where you explore a single subject in depth, or conduct multiple case studies to compare and illuminate different aspects of your research problem.

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Once you have developed your problem statement and research questions , you should be ready to choose the specific case that you want to focus on. A good case study should have the potential to:

  • Provide new or unexpected insights into the subject
  • Challenge or complicate existing assumptions and theories
  • Propose practical courses of action to resolve a problem
  • Open up new directions for future research

TipIf your research is more practical in nature and aims to simultaneously investigate an issue as you solve it, consider conducting action research instead.

Unlike quantitative or experimental research , a strong case study does not require a random or representative sample. In fact, case studies often deliberately focus on unusual, neglected, or outlying cases which may shed new light on the research problem.

Example of an outlying case studyIn the 1960s the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania was discovered to have extremely low rates of heart disease compared to the US average. It became an important case study for understanding previously neglected causes of heart disease.

However, you can also choose a more common or representative case to exemplify a particular category, experience or phenomenon.

Example of a representative case studyIn the 1920s, two sociologists used Muncie, Indiana as a case study of a typical American city that supposedly exemplified the changing culture of the US at the time.

While case studies focus more on concrete details than general theories, they should usually have some connection with theory in the field. This way the case study is not just an isolated description, but is integrated into existing knowledge about the topic. It might aim to:

  • Exemplify a theory by showing how it explains the case under investigation
  • Expand on a theory by uncovering new concepts and ideas that need to be incorporated
  • Challenge a theory by exploring an outlier case that doesn’t fit with established assumptions

To ensure that your analysis of the case has a solid academic grounding, you should conduct a literature review of sources related to the topic and develop a theoretical framework . This means identifying key concepts and theories to guide your analysis and interpretation.

There are many different research methods you can use to collect data on your subject. Case studies tend to focus on qualitative data using methods such as interviews , observations , and analysis of primary and secondary sources (e.g., newspaper articles, photographs, official records). Sometimes a case study will also collect quantitative data.

Example of a mixed methods case studyFor a case study of a wind farm development in a rural area, you could collect quantitative data on employment rates and business revenue, collect qualitative data on local people’s perceptions and experiences, and analyze local and national media coverage of the development.

The aim is to gain as thorough an understanding as possible of the case and its context.

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In writing up the case study, you need to bring together all the relevant aspects to give as complete a picture as possible of the subject.

How you report your findings depends on the type of research you are doing. Some case studies are structured like a standard scientific paper or thesis , with separate sections or chapters for the methods , results and discussion .

Others are written in a more narrative style, aiming to explore the case from various angles and analyze its meanings and implications (for example, by using textual analysis or discourse analysis ).

In all cases, though, make sure to give contextual details about the case, connect it back to the literature and theory, and discuss how it fits into wider patterns or debates.

If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Normal distribution
  • Degrees of freedom
  • Null hypothesis
  • Discourse analysis
  • Control groups
  • Mixed methods research
  • Non-probability sampling
  • Quantitative research
  • Ecological validity

Research bias

  • Rosenthal effect
  • Implicit bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Selection bias
  • Negativity bias
  • Status quo bias

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What is a Case Study in Psychology?

What is a Case Study in Psychology - (Pexels: Julia M Cameron)

A case study is a research method used in psychology to investigate an individual, group, or phenomenon in depth. It involves gathering extensive data about the subject of the study, including their background, experiences, behaviors, and attitudes. In this blog post, we will explore the concept of a case study in psychology, its history, and its importance in understanding human behavior.

History of Case Studies in Psychology

The use of case studies in psychology can be traced back to the early days of the discipline. Sigmund Freud , often considered the father of modern psychology, used case studies extensively in his work on psychoanalysis. He believed that case studies were a powerful way to understand the complex and unique nature of human behavior.

Since then, case studies have become a widely used research method in psychology, particularly in clinical psychology and counseling psychology . Case studies are also used in other fields, such as sociology, education, and business.

Importance of Case Studies in Psychology

Case studies are an important research method in psychology for several reasons. Some of the key reasons why case studies are important include:

1. In-depth Analysis

Case studies allow for an in-depth analysis of a particular individual, group, or phenomenon. By gathering extensive data about the subject of the study, researchers can gain a deep understanding of their experiences, behaviors, and attitudes.

2. Real-world Applications

Case studies have real-world applications, particularly in clinical psychology and counseling psychology. By studying the experiences of individuals with specific psychological disorders, researchers can gain insights into effective treatments and interventions.

3. Unique Perspectives

Case studies offer unique perspectives on human behavior. By studying the experiences of individuals who have had unique or unusual experiences, researchers can gain insights into how people adapt to challenging situations and overcome adversity.

4. Rich Data

Case studies provide rich data that can be used to develop theories and hypotheses about human behavior. By analyzing the data from multiple case studies, researchers can identify patterns and trends that can be used to develop new theories and test existing ones.

A case study is a research method used in psychology to investigate an individual, group, or phenomenon in depth. It has a long history in psychology and is an important research method for gaining insights into human behavior. By providing an in-depth analysis, real-world applications, unique perspectives, and rich data, case studies play a crucial role in advancing our understanding of human behavior.

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Case Studies

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

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Case studies are very detailed investigations of an individual or small group of people, usually regarding an unusual phenomenon or biographical event of interest to a research field. Due to a small sample, the case study can conduct an in-depth analysis of the individual/group.

Evaluation of case studies:

- Case studies create opportunities for a rich yield of data, and the depth of analysis can in turn bring high levels of validity (i.e. providing an accurate and exhaustive measure of what the study is hoping to measure).

- Studying abnormal psychology can give insight into how something works when it is functioning correctly, such as brain damage on memory (e.g. the case study of patient KF, whose short-term memory was impaired following a motorcycle accident but left his long-term memory intact, suggesting there might be separate physical stores in the brain for short and long-term memory).

- The detail collected on a single case may lead to interesting findings that conflict with current theories, and stimulate new paths for research.

- There is little control over a number of variables involved in a case study, so it is difficult to confidently establish any causal relationships between variables.

- Case studies are unusual by nature, so will have poor reliability as replicating them exactly will be unlikely.

- Due to the small sample size, it is unlikely that findings from a case study alone can be generalised to a whole population.

- The case study’s researcher may become so involved with the study that they exhibit bias in their interpretation and presentation of the data, making it challenging to distinguish what is truly objective/factual.

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What Is a Case Study in Psychology?

Categories Research Methods

What Is a Case Study in Psychology?

A case study is a research method used in psychology to investigate a particular individual, group, or situation in depth . It involves a detailed analysis of the subject, gathering information from various sources such as interviews, observations, and documents.

In a case study, researchers aim to understand the complexities and nuances of the subject under investigation. They explore the individual’s thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and experiences to gain insights into specific psychological phenomena. 

This type of research can provide great detail regarding a particular case, allowing researchers to examine rare or unique situations that may not be easily replicated in a laboratory setting. They offer a holistic view of the subject, considering various factors influencing their behavior or mental processes. 

By examining individual cases, researchers can generate hypotheses, develop theories, and contribute to the existing body of knowledge in psychology. Case studies are often utilized in clinical psychology, where they can provide valuable insights into the diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes of specific psychological disorders. 

Case studies offer a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of complex psychological phenomena, providing researchers with valuable information to inform theory, practice, and future research.

Case Study Examples

Case studies in psychology provide real-life examples that illustrate psychological concepts and theories. They offer a detailed analysis of specific individuals, groups, or situations, allowing researchers to understand psychological phenomena better. Here are a few examples of case studies in psychology: 

Phineas Gage

This famous case study explores the effects of a traumatic brain injury on personality and behavior. A railroad construction worker, Phineas Gage survived a severe brain injury that dramatically changed his personality.

This case study helped researchers understand the role of the frontal lobe in personality and social behavior. 

Little Albert

Conducted by behaviorist John B. Watson, the Little Albert case study aimed to demonstrate classical conditioning. In this study, a young boy named Albert was conditioned to fear a white rat by pairing it with a loud noise.

This case study provided insights into the process of fear conditioning and the impact of early experiences on behavior. 

Genie’s case study focused on a girl who experienced extreme social isolation and deprivation during her childhood. This study shed light on the critical period for language development and the effects of severe neglect on cognitive and social functioning. 

These case studies highlight the value of in-depth analysis and provide researchers with valuable insights into various psychological phenomena. By examining specific cases, psychologists can uncover unique aspects of human behavior and contribute to the field’s knowledge and understanding.

Types of Case Studies

Psychology case studies come in various forms, each serving a specific purpose in research and analysis. Understanding the different types of case studies can help researchers choose the most appropriate approach. 

Descriptive Case Studies

These studies aim to describe a particular individual, group, or situation. Researchers use descriptive case studies to explore and document specific characteristics, behaviors, or experiences.

For example, a descriptive case study may examine the life and experiences of a person with a rare psychological disorder. 

Exploratory Case Studies

Exploratory case studies are conducted when there is limited existing knowledge or understanding of a particular phenomenon. Researchers use these studies to gather preliminary information and generate hypotheses for further investigation.

Exploratory case studies often involve in-depth interviews, observations, and analysis of existing data. 

Explanatory Case Studies

These studies aim to explain the causal relationship between variables or events. Researchers use these studies to understand why certain outcomes occur and to identify the underlying mechanisms or processes.

Explanatory case studies often involve comparing multiple cases to identify common patterns or factors. 

Instrumental Case Studies

Instrumental case studies focus on using a particular case to gain insights into a broader issue or theory. Researchers select cases that are representative or critical in understanding the phenomenon of interest.

Instrumental case studies help researchers develop or refine theories and contribute to the general knowledge in the field. 

By utilizing different types of case studies, psychologists can explore various aspects of human behavior and gain a deeper understanding of psychological phenomena. Each type of case study offers unique advantages and contributes to the overall body of knowledge in psychology.

How to Collect Data for a Case Study

There are a variety of ways that researchers gather the data they need for a case study. Some sources include:

  • Directly observing the subject
  • Collecting information from archival records
  • Conducting interviews
  • Examining artifacts related to the subject
  • Examining documents that provide information about the subject

The way that this information is collected depends on the nature of the study itself

Prospective Research

In a prospective study, researchers observe the individual or group in question. These observations typically occur over a period of time and may be used to track the progress or progression of a phenomenon or treatment.

Retrospective Research

A retrospective case study involves looking back on a phenomenon. Researchers typically look at the outcome and then gather data to help them understand how the individual or group reached that point.

Benefits of a Case Study

Case studies offer several benefits in the field of psychology. They provide researchers with a unique opportunity to delve deep into specific individuals, groups, or situations, allowing for a comprehensive understanding of complex phenomena.

Case studies offer valuable insights that can inform theory development and practical applications by examining real-life examples. 

Complex Data

One of the key benefits of case studies is their ability to provide complex and detailed data. Researchers can gather in-depth information through various methods such as interviews, observations, and analysis of existing records.

This depth of data allows for a thorough exploration of the factors influencing behavior and the underlying mechanisms at play. 

Unique Data

Additionally, case studies allow researchers to study rare or unique cases that may not be easily replicated in experimental settings. This enables the examination of phenomena that are difficult to study through other psychology research methods . 

By focusing on specific cases, researchers can uncover patterns, identify causal relationships, and generate hypotheses for further investigation.

General Knowledge

Case studies can also contribute to the general knowledge of psychology by providing real-world examples that can be used to support or challenge existing theories. They offer a bridge between theory and practice, allowing researchers to apply theoretical concepts to real-life situations and vice versa. 

Case studies offer a range of benefits in psychology, including providing rich and detailed data, studying unique cases, and contributing to theory development. These benefits make case studies valuable in understanding human behavior and psychological phenomena.

Limitations of a Case Study

While case studies offer numerous benefits in the field of psychology, they also have certain limitations that researchers need to consider. Understanding these limitations is crucial for interpreting the findings and generalizing the results. 

Lack of Generalizability

One limitation of case studies is the issue of generalizability. Since case studies focus on specific individuals, groups, and situations, applying the findings to a larger population can be challenging. The unique characteristics and circumstances of the case may not be representative of the broader population, making it difficult to draw universal conclusions. 

Researcher bias is another possible limitation. The researcher’s subjective interpretation and personal beliefs can influence the data collection, analysis, and interpretation process. This bias can affect the objectivity and reliability of the findings, raising questions about the study’s validity. 

Case studies are often time-consuming and resource-intensive. They require extensive data collection, analysis, and interpretation, which can be lengthy. This can limit the number of cases that can be studied and may result in a smaller sample size, reducing the study’s statistical power. 

Case studies are retrospective in nature, relying on past events and experiences. This reliance on memory and self-reporting can introduce recall bias and inaccuracies in the data. Participants may forget or misinterpret certain details, leading to incomplete or unreliable information.

Despite these limitations, case studies remain a valuable research tool in psychology. By acknowledging and addressing these limitations, researchers can enhance the validity and reliability of their findings, contributing to a more comprehensive understanding of human behavior and psychological phenomena. 

While case studies have limitations, they remain valuable when researchers acknowledge and address these concerns, leading to more reliable and valid findings in psychology.

Alpi KM, Evans JJ. Distinguishing case study as a research method from case reports as a publication type . J Med Libr Assoc . 2019;107(1):1-5. doi:10.5195/jmla.2019.615

Crowe S, Cresswell K, Robertson A, Huby G, Avery A, Sheikh A. The case study approach . BMC Med Res Methodol . 2011;11:100. Published 2011 Jun 27. doi:10.1186/1471-2288-11-100

Paparini S, Green J, Papoutsi C, et al. Case study research for better evaluations of complex interventions: rationale and challenges . BMC Med . 2020;18(1):301. Published 2020 Nov 10. doi:10.1186/s12916-020-01777-6

Willemsen J. What is preventing psychotherapy case studies from having a greater impact on evidence-based practice, and how to address the challenges ? Front Psychiatry . 2023;13:1101090. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2022.1101090

Yin, Robert K. Case Study Research and Applications: Design and Methods . United States, SAGE Publications, 2017.

Psychology Dictionary

n. an in-depth assessment and investigation conducted on a target individual, family unit, or social group. It requires a researcher to collect multiple types of data that would prove to be useful in creating a complete biographical, psychological, physiological, and environmental background on the case.

What is a case study in psychology?

In psychology, a case study is a comprehensive, qualitative research of a single person or occasion that offers in-depth knowledge and insight into the subject's behavior, experiences, and thought processes. Observation, interviews, and the investigation of records, papers, and other artifacts are frequently used in case studies.

What is the purpose of a case study?

A case study in psychology is designed to produce rich, comprehensive data that can be utilized to comprehend a specific phenomenon or person in deeper detail. Researchers can use case studies to investigate the complexity of human behavior and mental processes, spot trends and themes, and develop hypotheses for more study. They are a useful tool for psychology teaching and learning because they may be used to demonstrate concepts or theories in a practical setting.

Types of psychology case studies

A case study is a method used in psychology to gather comprehensive data that would help researchers better understand a particular occurrence or individual. Case studies are a useful tool for researchers because they let them explore the complexity of human thought and behavior, identify patterns and themes, and provide hypotheses for further investigation. Because they can be used to demonstrate ideas or theories in a real-world situation, they are a helpful tool for psychology teaching and learning.

The following are the five main types of case studies in psychology:

  • Exploratory case studies: These case studies are designed to investigate new or under-researched areas within the field of psychology. The primary purpose of exploratory case studies is to generate hypotheses or initial theories, which can then be tested using more rigorous research methods.
  • Descriptive case studies: Descriptive case studies aim to provide a comprehensive account of a specific individual, event, or phenomenon.
  • Explanatory case studies: Explanatory case studies seek to identify the underlying causes or mechanisms responsible for a particular outcome or behavior. They often involve the analysis of relationships between various factors, with the goal of uncovering causal connections. These case studies may employ quantitative methods, such as statistical analyses or experiments, in addition to qualitative data collection techniques.
  • Intrinsic case studies: Intrinsic case studies focus on a unique, rare, or unusual case that is of particular interest to the researcher. The primary goal of this type of case study is to gain a deep understanding of the specific individual or event, rather than generalizing the findings to a broader population.
  • Instrumental case studies: Instrumental case studies use a specific case as a means to gain insight into a broader issue or to support or challenge a theory. In this type of case study, the focus is not on the individual case itself, but on the wider implications it has for understanding psychological phenomena.
  • Phineas Gage: Phineas Gage was a railroad construction worker who survived a catastrophic brain injury in 1848 and is a well-known case study in the history of psychology. His example has been utilized to examine the connection between brain make-up and personality as well as the function of the frontal lobes in social cognition and judgment.
  • Little Hans: Little Hans, a 5-year-old boy, was the subject of a psychoanalytic case study by Sigmund Freud in the early 20th century. The study aimed to explore the development of anxiety and phobias in children and provided support for some of Freud's theories on psychosexual development and the Oedipus complex.
  • Genie: Genie was a young girl who was discovered in 1970 after being locked in isolation for most of her life. Her case has been used to study the effects of extreme social isolation on cognitive and linguistic development, as well as the critical period hypothesis in language acquisition .


Baxter, P., & Jack, S. (2008). Qualitative Case Study Methodology: Study Design and Implementation for Novice Researchers. The Qualitative Report, 13(4), 544-559. https://doi.org/10.46743/2160-3715/2008.1573

Creswell, J.W. and Poth, C.N. (2018) Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design Choosing among Five Approaches. 4th Edition, SAGE Publications, Inc., Thousand Oaks. https://www.scirp.org/(S(lz5mqp453edsnp55rrgjct55))/reference/ReferencesPapers.aspx?ReferenceID=2155979

Hollweck, T. (2016). Robert K. Yin. (2014). Case Study Research Design and Methods (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. 282 pages. The Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation , 30, 108. https://doi.org/10.3138/cjpe.30.1.108

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What is a Case Study? [+6 Types of Case Studies]

By Ronita Mohan , Sep 20, 2021

What is a Case Study Blog Header

Case studies have become powerful business tools. But what is a case study? What are the benefits of creating one? Are there limitations to the format?

If you’ve asked yourself these questions, our helpful guide will clear things up. Learn how to use a case study for business. Find out how cases analysis works in psychology and research.

We’ve also got examples of case studies to inspire you.

Haven’t made a case study before? You can easily  create a case study  with Venngage’s customizable templates.


Click to jump ahead:

What is a case study, what is the case study method, benefits of case studies, limitations of case studies, types of case studies, faqs about case studies.

Case studies are research methodologies. They examine subjects, projects, or organizations to tell a story.

Case Study Definition LinkedIn Post


Numerous sectors use case analyses. The social sciences, social work, and psychology create studies regularly.

Healthcare industries write reports on patients and diagnoses. Marketing case study examples , like the one below, highlight the benefits of a business product.

Bold Social Media Business Case Study Template


Now that you know what a case study is, we explain how case reports are used in three different industries.

What is a business case study?

A business or marketing case study aims at showcasing a successful partnership. This can be between a brand and a client. Or the case study can examine a brand’s project.

There is a perception that case studies are used to advertise a brand. But effective reports, like the one below, can show clients how a brand can support them.

Light Simple Business Case Study Template

Hubspot created a case study on a customer that successfully scaled its business. The report outlines the various Hubspot tools used to achieve these results.

Hubspot case study

Hubspot also added a video with testimonials from the client company’s employees.

So, what is the purpose of a case study for businesses? There is a lot of competition in the corporate world. Companies are run by people. They can be on the fence about which brand to work with.

Business reports  stand out aesthetically, as well. They use  brand colors  and brand fonts . Usually, a combination of the client’s and the brand’s.

With the Venngage  My Brand Kit  feature, businesses can automatically apply their brand to designs.

A business case study, like the one below, acts as social proof. This helps customers decide between your brand and your competitors.

Modern lead Generation Business Case Study Template

Don’t know how to design a report? You can learn  how to write a case study  with Venngage’s guide. We also share design tips and examples that will help you convert.

Related: 55+ Annual Report Design Templates, Inspirational Examples & Tips [Updated]

What is a case study in psychology?

In the field of psychology, case studies focus on a particular subject. Psychology case histories also examine human behaviors.

Case reports search for commonalities between humans. They are also used to prescribe further research. Or these studies can elaborate on a solution for a behavioral ailment.

The American Psychology Association  has a number of case studies on real-life clients. Note how the reports are more text-heavy than a business case study.

What is a case study in psychology? Behavior therapy example

Famous psychologists such as Sigmund Freud and Anna O popularised the use of case studies in the field. They did so by regularly interviewing subjects. Their detailed observations build the field of psychology.

It is important to note that psychological studies must be conducted by professionals. Psychologists, psychiatrists and therapists should be the researchers in these cases.

Related: What Netflix’s Top 50 Shows Can Teach Us About Font Psychology [Infographic]

What is a case study in research?

Research is a necessary part of every case study. But specific research fields are required to create studies. These fields include user research, healthcare, education, or social work.

For example, this UX Design  report examined the public perception of a client. The brand researched and implemented new visuals to improve it. The study breaks down this research through lessons learned.

What is a case study in research? UX Design case study example

Clinical reports are a necessity in the medical field. These documents are used to share knowledge with other professionals. They also help examine new or unusual diseases or symptoms.

The pandemic has led to a significant increase in research. For example,  Spectrum Health  studied the value of health systems in the pandemic. They created the study by examining community outreach.

What is a case study in research? Spectrum healthcare example

The pandemic has significantly impacted the field of education. This has led to numerous examinations on remote studying. There have also been studies on how students react to decreased peer communication.

Social work case reports often have a community focus. They can also examine public health responses. In certain regions, social workers study disaster responses.

You now know what case studies in various fields are. In the next step of our guide, we explain the case study method.

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A case analysis is a deep dive into a subject. To facilitate this case studies are built on interviews and observations. The below example would have been created after numerous interviews.

Case studies are largely qualitative. They analyze and describe phenomena. While some data is included, a case analysis is not quantitative.

There are a few steps in the case method. You have to start by identifying the subject of your study. Then determine what kind of research is required.

In natural sciences, case studies can take years to complete. Business reports, like this one, don’t take that long. A few weeks of interviews should be enough.

Blue Simple Business Case Study Template

The case method will vary depending on the industry. Reports will also look different once produced.

As you will have seen, business reports are more colorful. The design is also more accessible . Healthcare and psychology reports are more text-heavy.

Designing case reports takes time and energy. So, is it worth taking the time to write them? Here are the benefits of creating case studies.

  • Collects large amounts of information
  • Helps formulate hypotheses
  • Builds the case for further research
  • Discovers new insights into a subject
  • Builds brand trust and loyalty
  • Engages customers through stories

For example, the business study below creates a story around a brand partnership. It makes for engaging reading. The study also shows evidence backing up the information.

Blue Content Marketing Case Study Template

We’ve shared the benefits of why studies are needed. We will also look at the limitations of creating them.

Related: How to Present a Case Study like a Pro (With Examples)

There are a few disadvantages to conducting a case analysis. The limitations will vary according to the industry.

  • Responses from interviews are subjective
  • Subjects may tailor responses to the researcher
  • Studies can’t always be replicated
  • In certain industries, analyses can take time and be expensive
  • Risk of generalizing the results among a larger population

These are some of the common weaknesses of creating case reports. If you’re on the fence, look at the competition in your industry.

Other brands or professionals are building reports, like this example. In that case, you may want to do the same.

Coral content marketing case study template

There are six common types of case reports. Depending on your industry, you might use one of these types.

Descriptive case studies

Explanatory case studies, exploratory case reports, intrinsic case studies, instrumental case studies, collective case reports.

6 Types Of Case Studies List


We go into more detail about each type of study in the guide below.

Related:  15+ Professional Case Study Examples [Design Tips + Templates]

When you have an existing hypothesis, you can design a descriptive study. This type of report starts with a description. The aim is to find connections between the subject being studied and a theory.

Once these connections are found, the study can conclude. The results of this type of study will usually suggest how to develop a theory further.

A study like the one below has concrete results. A descriptive report would use the quantitative data as a suggestion for researching the subject deeply.

Lead generation business case study template

When an incident occurs in a field, an explanation is required. An explanatory report investigates the cause of the event. It will include explanations for that cause.

The study will also share details about the impact of the event. In most cases, this report will use evidence to predict future occurrences. The results of explanatory reports are definitive.

Note that there is no room for interpretation here. The results are absolute.

The study below is a good example. It explains how one brand used the services of another. It concludes by showing definitive proof that the collaboration was successful.

Bold Content Marketing Case Study Template

Another example of this study would be in the automotive industry. If a vehicle fails a test, an explanatory study will examine why. The results could show that the failure was because of a particular part.

Related: How to Write a Case Study [+ Design Tips]

An explanatory report is a self-contained document. An exploratory one is only the beginning of an investigation.

Exploratory cases act as the starting point of studies. This is usually conducted as a precursor to large-scale investigations. The research is used to suggest why further investigations are needed.

An exploratory study can also be used to suggest methods for further examination.

For example, the below analysis could have found inconclusive results. In that situation, it would be the basis for an in-depth study.

Teal Social Media Business Case Study Template

Intrinsic studies are more common in the field of psychology. These reports can also be conducted in healthcare or social work.

These types of studies focus on a unique subject, such as a patient. They can sometimes study groups close to the researcher.

The aim of such studies is to understand the subject better. This requires learning their history. The researcher will also examine how they interact with their environment.

For instance, if the case study below was about a unique brand, it could be an intrinsic study.

Vibrant Content Marketing Case Study Template

Once the study is complete, the researcher will have developed a better understanding of a phenomenon. This phenomenon will likely not have been studied or theorized about before.

Examples of intrinsic case analysis can be found across psychology. For example, Jean Piaget’s theories on cognitive development. He established the theory from intrinsic studies into his own children.

Related: What Disney Villains Can Tell Us About Color Psychology [Infographic]

This is another type of study seen in medical and psychology fields. Instrumental reports are created to examine more than just the primary subject.

When research is conducted for an instrumental study, it is to provide the basis for a larger phenomenon. The subject matter is usually the best example of the phenomenon. This is why it is being studied.

Purple SAAS Business Case Study Template

Assume it’s examining lead generation strategies. It may want to show that visual marketing is the definitive lead generation tool. The brand can conduct an instrumental case study to examine this phenomenon.

Collective studies are based on instrumental case reports. These types of studies examine multiple reports.

There are a number of reasons why collective reports are created:

  • To provide evidence for starting a new study
  • To find pattens between multiple instrumental reports
  • To find differences in similar types of cases
  • Gain a deeper understanding of a complex phenomenon
  • Understand a phenomenon from diverse contexts

A researcher could use multiple reports, like the one below, to build a collective case report.

Social Media Business Case Study template

Related: 10+ Case Study Infographic Templates That Convert

What makes a case study a case study?

A case study has a very particular research methodology. They are an in-depth study of a person or a group of individuals. They can also study a community or an organization. Case reports examine real-world phenomena within a set context.

How long should a case study be?

The length of studies depends on the industry. It also depends on the story you’re telling. Most case studies should be at least 500-1500 words long. But you can increase the length if you have more details to share.

What should you ask in a case study?

The one thing you shouldn’t ask is ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions. Case studies are qualitative. These questions won’t give you the information you need.

Ask your client about the problems they faced. Ask them about solutions they found. Or what they think is the ideal solution. Leave room to ask them follow-up questions. This will help build out the study.

How to present a case study?

When you’re ready to present a case study, begin by providing a summary of the problem or challenge you were addressing. Follow this with an outline of the solution you implemented, and support this with the results you achieved, backed by relevant data. Incorporate visual aids like slides, graphs, and images to make your case study presentation more engaging and impactful.

Now you know what a case study means, you can begin creating one. These reports are a great tool for analyzing brands. They are also useful in a variety of other fields.

Use a visual communication platform like Venngage to design case studies. With Venngage’s templates, you can design easily. Create branded, engaging reports, all without design experience.

How to Write a Case Conceptualization: 10 Examples (+ PDF)

Case Conceptualization Examples

Such understanding can be developed by reading relevant records, meeting with clients face to face, and using assessments such as a mental status examination.

As you proceed, you are forming a guiding concept of who this client is, how they became who they are, and where their personal journey might be heading.

Such a guiding concept, which will shape any needed interventions, is called a case conceptualization, and we will examine various examples in this article.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Positive CBT Exercises for free . These science-based exercises will provide you with detailed insight into positive Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and give you the tools to apply it in your therapy or coaching.

This Article Contains:

What is a case conceptualization or formulation, 4 things to include in your case formulation, a helpful example & model, 3 samples of case formulations, 6 templates and worksheets for counselors, relevant resources from positivepsychology.com, a take-home message.

In psychology and related fields, a case conceptualization summarizes the key facts and findings from an evaluation to provide guidance for recommendations.

This is typically the evaluation of an individual, although you can extend the concept of case conceptualization to summarizing findings about a group or organization.

Based on the case conceptualization, recommendations can be made to improve a client’s self-care , mental status, job performance, etc (Sperry & Sperry, 2020).

Case Formulation

  • Summary of the client’s identifying information, referral questions, and timeline of important events or factors in their life . A timeline can be especially helpful in understanding how the client’s strengths and limitations have evolved.
  • Statement of the client’s core strengths . Identifying core strengths in the client’s life should help guide any recommendations, including how strengths might be used to offset limitations.
  • Statement concerning a client’s limitations or weaknesses . This will also help guide any recommendations. If a weakness is worth mentioning in a case conceptualization, it is worth writing a recommendation about it.

Note: As with mental status examinations , observations in this context concerning weaknesses are not value judgments, about whether the client is a good person, etc. The observations are clinical judgments meant to guide recommendations.

  • A summary of how the strengths, limitations, and other key information about a client inform diagnosis and prognosis .

You should briefly clarify how you arrived at a given diagnosis. For example, why do you believe a personality disorder is primary, rather than a major depressive disorder?

Many clinicians provide diagnoses in formal psychiatric terms, per the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Some clinicians will state a diagnosis in less formal terms that do not coincide exactly with ICD-10 or DSM-5 codes. What is arguably more important is that a diagnostic impression, formal or not, gives a clear sense of who the person is and the support they need to reach their goals.

Prognosis is a forecast about whether the client’s condition can be expected to improve, worsen, or remain stable. Prognosis can be difficult, as it often depends on unforeseeable factors. However, this should not keep you from offering a conservative opinion on a client’s expected course, provided treatment recommendations are followed.

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Based on the pointers for writing a case conceptualization above, an example for summarizing an adolescent case (in this instance, a counseling case for relieving depression and improving social skills) might read as follows.

Background and referral information

This is a 15-year-old Haitian–American youth, referred by his mother for concerns about self-isolation, depression, and poor social skills. He reportedly moved with his mother to the United States three years ago.

He reportedly misses his life and friends in Haiti. The mother states he has had difficulty adjusting socially in the United States, especially with peers. He has become increasingly self-isolating, appears sad and irritable, and has started to refuse to go to school.

His mother is very supportive and aware of his emotional–behavioral needs. The youth has been enrolled in a social skills group at school and has attended three sessions, with some reported benefit. He is agreeable to start individual counseling. He reportedly does well in school academically when he applies himself.


Behavioral form completed by his mother shows elevated depression scale (T score = 80). There is a milder elevation on the inattention scale (T score = 60), which suggests depression is more acute than inattention and might drive it.

He is also elevated on a scale measuring social skills and involvement (T score = 65). Here too, it is reasonable to assume that depression is driving social isolation and difficulty relating to peers, especially since while living in Haiti, he was reportedly quite social with peers.

Diagnostic impressions, treatment guidance, prognosis

This youth’s history, presentation on interview, and results of emotional–behavioral forms suggest some difficulty with depression, likely contributing to social isolation. As he has no prior reported history of depression, this is most likely a reaction to missing his former home and difficulty adjusting to his new school and peers.

Treatments should include individual counseling with an evidence-based approach such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). His counselor should consider emotional processing and social skills building as well.

Prognosis is favorable, with anticipated benefit apparent within 12 sessions of CBT.

How to write a case conceptualization: An outline

The following outline is necessarily general. It can be modified as needed, with points excluded or added, depending on the case.

  • Client’s gender, age, level of education, vocational status, marital status
  • Referred by whom, why, and for what type of service (e.g., testing, counseling, coaching)
  • In the spirit of strengths-based assessment, consider listing the client’s strengths first, before any limitations.
  • Consider the full range of positive factors supporting the client.
  • Physical health
  • Family support
  • Financial resources
  • Capacity to work
  • Resilience or other positive personality traits
  • Emotional stability
  • Cognitive strengths, per history and testing
  • The client’s limitations or relative weaknesses should be described in a way that highlights those most needing attention or treatment.
  • Medical conditions affecting daily functioning
  • Lack of family or other social support
  • Limited financial resources
  • Inability to find or hold suitable employment
  • Substance abuse or dependence
  • Proneness to interpersonal conflict
  • Emotional–behavioral problems, including anxious or depressive symptoms
  • Cognitive deficits, per history and testing
  • Diagnoses that are warranted can be given in either DSM-5 or ICD-10 terms.
  • There can be more than one diagnosis given. If that’s the case, consider describing these in terms of primary diagnosis, secondary diagnosis, etc.
  • The primary diagnosis should best encompass the client’s key symptoms or traits, best explain their behavior, or most need treatment.
  • Take care to avoid over-assigning multiple and potentially overlapping diagnoses.

When writing a case conceptualization, always keep in mind the timeline of significant events or factors in the examinee’s life.

  • Decide which events or factors are significant enough to include in a case conceptualization.
  • When these points are placed in a timeline, they help you understand how the person has evolved to become who they are now.
  • A good timeline can also help you understand which factors in a person’s life might be causative for others. For example, if a person has suffered a frontal head injury in the past year, this might help explain their changeable moods, presence of depressive disorder, etc.

Case Formulation Samples

Sample #1: Conceptualization for CBT case

This is a 35-year-old Caucasian man referred by his physician for treatment of generalized anxiety.

Strengths/supports in his case include willingness to engage in treatment, high average intelligence per recent cognitive testing, supportive family, and regular physical exercise (running).

Limiting factors include relatively low stress coping skills, frequent migraines (likely stress related), and relative social isolation (partly due to some anxiety about social skills).

The client’s presentation on interview and review of medical/psychiatric records show a history of chronic worry, including frequent worries about his wife’s health and his finances. He meets criteria for DSM-5 generalized anxiety disorder. He has also described occasional panic-type episodes, which do not currently meet full criteria for panic disorder but could develop into such without preventive therapy.

Treatments should include CBT for generalized anxiety, including keeping a worry journal; regular assessment of anxiety levels with Penn State Worry Questionnaire and/or Beck Anxiety Inventory; cognitive restructuring around negative beliefs that reinforce anxiety; and practice of relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation and diaphragmatic breathing.

Prognosis is good, given the evidence for efficacy of CBT for anxiety disorders generally (Hofmann, Asnaani, Vonk, Sawyer, & Fang, 2012).

Sample #2: Conceptualization for DBT case

This 51-year-old Haitian–American woman is self-referred for depressive symptoms, including reported moods of “rage,” “sadness,” and “emptiness.” She says that many of her difficulties involve family, friends, and coworkers who regularly “disrespect” her and “plot against her behind her back.”

Her current psychiatrist has diagnosed her with personality disorder with borderline features, but she doubts the accuracy of this diagnosis.

Strengths/supports include a willingness to engage in treatment, highly developed and marketable computer programming skills, and engagement in leisure activities such as playing backgammon with friends.

Limiting factors include low stress coping skills, mild difficulties with attention and recent memory (likely due in part to depressive affect), and a tendency to self-medicate with alcohol when feeling depressed.

The client’s presentation on interview, review of medical/psychiatric records, and results of MMPI-2 personality inventory corroborate her psychiatrist’s diagnosis of borderline personality disorder.

The diagnosis is supported by a longstanding history of unstable identity, volatile personal relationships with fear of being abandoned, feelings of emptiness, reactive depressive disorder with suicidal gestures, and lack of insight into interpersonal difficulties that have resulted in her often stressed and depressive state.

Treatments should emphasize a DBT group that her psychiatrist has encouraged her to attend but to which she has not yet gone. There should also be regular individual counseling emphasizing DBT skills including mindfulness or present moment focus, building interpersonal skills, emotional regulation, and distress tolerance. There should be a counseling element for limiting alcohol use. Cognitive exercises are also recommended.

Of note, DBT is the only evidence-based treatment for borderline personality disorder (May, Richardi, & Barth, 2016). Prognosis is guardedly optimistic, provided she engages in both group and individual DBT treatments on a weekly basis, and these treatments continue without interruption for at least three months, with refresher sessions as needed.

Sample #3: Conceptualization in a family therapy case

This 45-year-old African-American woman was initially referred for individual therapy for “rapid mood swings” and a tendency to become embroiled in family conflicts. Several sessions of family therapy also appear indicated, and her psychiatrist concurs.

The client’s husband (50 years old) and son (25 years old, living with parents) were interviewed separately and together. When interviewed separately, her husband and son each indicated the client’s alcohol intake was “out of control,” and that she was consuming about six alcoholic beverages throughout the day, sometimes more.

Her husband and son each said the client was often too tired for household duties by the evening and often had rapid shifts in mood from happy to angry to “crying in her room.”

On individual interview, the client stated that her husband and son were each drinking about as much as she, that neither ever offered to help her with household duties, and that her son appeared unable to keep a job, which left him home most of the day, making demands on her for meals, etc.

On interview with the three family members, each acknowledged that the instances above were occurring at home, although father and son tended to blame most of the problems, including son’s difficulty maintaining employment, on the client and her drinking.

Strengths/supports in the family include a willingness of each member to engage in family sessions, awareness of supportive resources such as assistance for son’s job search, and a willingness by all to examine and reduce alcohol use by all family members as needed.

Limiting factors in this case include apparent tendency of all household members to drink to some excess, lack of insight by one or more family members as to how alcohol consumption is contributing to communication and other problems in the household, and a tendency by husband and son to make this client the family scapegoat.

The family dynamic can be conceptualized in this case through a DBT lens.

From this perspective, problems develop within the family when the environment is experienced by one or more members as invalidating and unsupportive. DBT skills with a nonjudgmental focus, active listening to others, reflecting each other’s feelings, and tolerance of distress in the moment should help to develop an environment that supports all family members and facilitates effective communication.

It appears that all family members in this case would benefit from engaging in the above DBT skills, to support and communicate with one another.

Prognosis is guardedly optimistic if family will engage in therapy with DBT elements for at least six sessions (with refresher sessions as needed).

Introduction to case conceptualization – Thomas Field

The following worksheets can be used for case conceptualization and planning.

  • Case Conceptualization Worksheet: Individual Counseling helps counselors develop a case conceptualization for individual clients.
  • Case Conceptualization Worksheet: Couples Counseling helps counselors develop a case conceptualization for couples.
  • Case Conceptualization Worksheet: Family Counseling helps counselors develop a case conceptualization for families.
  • Case Conceptualization and Action Plan: Individual Counseling helps clients facilitate conceptualization of their own case, at approximately six weeks into counseling and thereafter at appropriate intervals.
  • Case Conceptualization and Action Plan: Couples Counseling helps couples facilitate conceptualization of their own case, at approximately six weeks into counseling and thereafter at appropriate intervals.
  • Case Conceptualization and Action Plan: Family Counseling helps families facilitate conceptualization of their own case, at approximately six weeks into counseling and thereafter at appropriate intervals.

The following resources can be found in the Positive Psychology Toolkit© , and their full versions can be accessed by a subscription.

Analyzing Strengths Use in Different Life Domains can help clients understand their notable strengths and which strengths can be used to more advantage in new contexts.

Family Strength Spotting is another relevant resource. Each family member fills out a worksheet detailing notable strengths of other family members. In reviewing all worksheets, each family member can gain a greater appreciation for other members’ strengths, note common or unique strengths, and determine how best to use these combined strengths to achieve family goals.

Four Front Assessment is another resource designed to help counselors conceptualize a case based on a client’s personal and environmental strengths and weaknesses. The idea behind this tool is that environmental factors in the broad sense, such as a supportive/unsupportive family, are too often overlooked in conceptualizing a case.

If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others through CBT, check out this collection of 17 validated positive CBT tools for practitioners . Use them to help others overcome unhelpful thoughts and feelings and develop more positive behaviors.

In helping professions, success in working with clients depends first and foremost on how well you understand them.

This understanding is crystallized in a case conceptualization.

Case conceptualization helps answer key questions. Who is this client? How did they become who they are? What supports do they need to reach their goals?

The conceptualization itself depends on gathering all pertinent data on a given case, through record review, interview, behavioral observation, questionnaires completed by the client, etc.

Once the data is assembled, the counselor, coach, or other involved professional can focus on enumerating the client’s strengths, weaknesses, and limitations.

It is also often helpful to put the client’s strengths and limitations in a timeline so you can see how they have evolved and which factors might have contributed to the emergence of others.

Based on this in-depth understanding of the client, you can then tailor specific recommendations for enhancing their strengths, overcoming their weaknesses, and reaching their particular goals.

We hope you have enjoyed this discussion of how to conceptualize cases in the helping professions and that you will find some tools for doing so useful.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. For more information, don’t forget to download our three Positive CBT Exercises for free .

  • Hofmann, S. G., Asnaani, A., Vonk, I. J., Sawyer, A. T., & Fang, A. (2012). The efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy: A review of meta-analyses. Cognitive Therapy and Research , 36 (5), 427–440.
  • May, J. M., Richardi, T. M., & Barth, K. S. (2016). Dialectical behavior therapy as treatment for borderline personality disorder. The Mental Health Clinician , 6 (2), 62–67.
  • Sperry, L., & Sperry, J. (2020).  Case conceptualization: Mastering this competency with ease and confidence . Routledge.

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What Is A Case Control Study?

Julia Simkus

Editor at Simply Psychology

BA (Hons) Psychology, Princeton University

Julia Simkus is a graduate of Princeton University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She is currently studying for a Master's Degree in Counseling for Mental Health and Wellness in September 2023. Julia's research has been published in peer reviewed journals.

Learn about our Editorial Process

Saul Mcleod, PhD

Educator, Researcher

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MRes, PhD, University of Manchester

Saul Mcleod, Ph.D., is a qualified psychology teacher with over 18 years experience of working in further and higher education. He has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

On This Page:

A case-control study is a research method where two groups of people are compared – those with the condition (cases) and those without (controls). By looking at their past, researchers try to identify what factors might have contributed to the condition in the ‘case’ group.

A case-control study looks at people who already have a certain condition (cases) and people who don’t (controls). By comparing these two groups, researchers try to figure out what might have caused the condition. They look into the past to find clues, like habits or experiences, that are different between the two groups.

The “cases” are the individuals with the disease or condition under study, and the “controls” are similar individuals without the disease or condition of interest.

The controls should have similar characteristics (i.e., age, sex, demographic, health status) to the cases to mitigate the effects of confounding variables .

Case-control studies identify any associations between an exposure and an outcome and help researchers form hypotheses about a particular population.

Researchers will first identify the two groups, and then look back in time to investigate which subjects in each group were exposed to the condition.

If the exposure is found more commonly in the cases than the controls, the researcher can hypothesize that the exposure may be linked to the outcome of interest.

Case Control Study

Figure: Schematic diagram of case-control study design. Kenneth F. Schulz and David A. Grimes (2002) Case-control studies: research in reverse . The Lancet Volume 359, Issue 9304, 431 – 434

Quick, inexpensive, and simple

Because these studies use already existing data and do not require any follow-up with subjects, they tend to be quicker and cheaper than other types of research. Case-control studies also do not require large sample sizes.

Beneficial for studying rare diseases

Researchers in case-control studies start with a population of people known to have the target disease instead of following a population and waiting to see who develops it. This enables researchers to identify current cases and enroll a sufficient number of patients with a particular rare disease.

Useful for preliminary research

Case-control studies are beneficial for an initial investigation of a suspected risk factor for a condition. The information obtained from cross-sectional studies then enables researchers to conduct further data analyses to explore any relationships in more depth.


Subject to recall bias.

Participants might be unable to remember when they were exposed or omit other details that are important for the study. In addition, those with the outcome are more likely to recall and report exposures more clearly than those without the outcome.

Difficulty finding a suitable control group

It is important that the case group and the control group have almost the same characteristics, such as age, gender, demographics, and health status.

Forming an accurate control group can be challenging, so sometimes researchers enroll multiple control groups to bolster the strength of the case-control study.

Do not demonstrate causation

Case-control studies may prove an association between exposures and outcomes, but they can not demonstrate causation.

A case-control study is an observational study where researchers analyzed two groups of people (cases and controls) to look at factors associated with particular diseases or outcomes.

Below are some examples of case-control studies:
  • Investigating the impact of exposure to daylight on the health of office workers (Boubekri et al., 2014).
  • Comparing serum vitamin D levels in individuals who experience migraine headaches with their matched controls (Togha et al., 2018).
  • Analyzing correlations between parental smoking and childhood asthma (Strachan and Cook, 1998).
  • Studying the relationship between elevated concentrations of homocysteine and an increased risk of vascular diseases (Ford et al., 2002).
  • Assessing the magnitude of the association between Helicobacter pylori and the incidence of gastric cancer (Helicobacter and Cancer Collaborative Group, 2001).
  • Evaluating the association between breast cancer risk and saturated fat intake in postmenopausal women (Howe et al., 1990).

Frequently asked questions

1. what’s the difference between a case-control study and a cross-sectional study.

Case-control studies are different from cross-sectional studies in that case-control studies compare groups retrospectively while cross-sectional studies analyze information about a population at a specific point in time.

In  cross-sectional studies , researchers are simply examining a group of participants and depicting what already exists in the population.

2. What’s the difference between a case-control study and a longitudinal study?

Case-control studies compare groups retrospectively, while longitudinal studies can compare groups either retrospectively or prospectively.

In a  longitudinal study , researchers monitor a population over an extended period of time, and they can be used to study developmental shifts and understand how certain things change as we age.

In addition, case-control studies look at a single subject or a single case, whereas longitudinal studies can be conducted on a large group of subjects.

3. What’s the difference between a case-control study and a retrospective cohort study?

Case-control studies are retrospective as researchers begin with an outcome and trace backward to investigate exposure; however, they differ from retrospective cohort studies.

In a  retrospective cohort study , researchers examine a group before any of the subjects have developed the disease, then examine any factors that differed between the individuals who developed the condition and those who did not.

Thus, the outcome is measured after exposure in retrospective cohort studies, whereas the outcome is measured before the exposure in case-control studies.

Boubekri, M., Cheung, I., Reid, K., Wang, C., & Zee, P. (2014). Impact of windows and daylight exposure on overall health and sleep quality of office workers: a case-control pilot study. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine: JCSM: Official Publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 10 (6), 603-611.

Ford, E. S., Smith, S. J., Stroup, D. F., Steinberg, K. K., Mueller, P. W., & Thacker, S. B. (2002). Homocyst (e) ine and cardiovascular disease: a systematic review of the evidence with special emphasis on case-control studies and nested case-control studies. International journal of epidemiology, 31 (1), 59-70.

Helicobacter and Cancer Collaborative Group. (2001). Gastric cancer and Helicobacter pylori: a combined analysis of 12 case control studies nested within prospective cohorts. Gut, 49 (3), 347-353.

Howe, G. R., Hirohata, T., Hislop, T. G., Iscovich, J. M., Yuan, J. M., Katsouyanni, K., … & Shunzhang, Y. (1990). Dietary factors and risk of breast cancer: combined analysis of 12 case—control studies. JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 82 (7), 561-569.

Lewallen, S., & Courtright, P. (1998). Epidemiology in practice: case-control studies. Community eye health, 11 (28), 57–58.

Strachan, D. P., & Cook, D. G. (1998). Parental smoking and childhood asthma: longitudinal and case-control studies. Thorax, 53 (3), 204-212.

Tenny, S., Kerndt, C. C., & Hoffman, M. R. (2021). Case Control Studies. In StatPearls . StatPearls Publishing.

Togha, M., Razeghi Jahromi, S., Ghorbani, Z., Martami, F., & Seifishahpar, M. (2018). Serum Vitamin D Status in a Group of Migraine Patients Compared With Healthy Controls: A Case-Control Study. Headache, 58 (10), 1530-1540.

Further Information

Schulz, K. F., & Grimes, D. A. (2002). Case-control studies: research in reverse. The Lancet, 359(9304), 431-434.

What is a case-control study?

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How to Write a Psychology Case Study: Expert Tips

what is case study psychology

Have you ever heard of Phineas Gage, a man whose life story became a legendary case study in the annals of psychology? In the mid-19th century, Gage, a railroad construction foreman, survived a near-fatal accident when an iron rod pierced through his skull, severely damaging his brain. What makes this tale truly remarkable is that, despite his physical recovery, Gage's personality underwent a dramatic transformation. He went from being a mild-mannered and responsible individual to becoming impulsive and unpredictable. This remarkable case marked the dawn of psychology's fascination with understanding the intricate workings of the human mind. Case studies, like the one of Phineas Gage, have been a cornerstone of our understanding of human behavior ever since.

Short Description

In this article, we'll unravel the secrets of case study psychology as the powerful tool of this field. We will explore its essence and why these investigations are so crucial in understanding human behavior. Discover the various types of case studies, gain insights from real-world examples, and uncover the essential steps and expert tips on how to craft your very own compelling study. Get ready to embark on a comprehensive exploration of this invaluable research method.

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What Is a Case Study in Psychology

A case study psychology definition can be compared to a magnifying glass turned toward a single individual, group, or phenomenon. According to our paper writer , it's a focused investigation that delves deep into the unique complexities of a particular subject. Rather than sifting through mountains of data, a case study allows us to zoom in and scrutinize the details, uncovering the 'whys' and 'hows' that often remain hidden in broader research.

A psychology case study is not about generalizations or sweeping theories; it's about the intricacies of real-life situations. It's the detective work of the field, aiming to unveil the 'story behind the data' and offering profound insights into human behavior, emotions, and experiences. So, while psychology as a whole may study the forest, a case study takes you on a journey through the trees, revealing the unique patterns, quirks, and secrets that make each one distinct.

The Significance of Psychology Case Studies

Writing a psychology case study plays a pivotal role in the world of research and understanding the human mind. Here's why they are so crucial, according to our ' do my essay ' experts:

how to write psychology case study

  • In-Depth Exploration: Case studies provide an opportunity to explore complex human behaviors and experiences in great detail. By diving deep into a specific case, researchers can uncover nuances that might be overlooked in broader studies.
  • Unique Perspectives: Every individual and situation is unique, and case studies allow us to capture this diversity. They offer a chance to highlight the idiosyncrasies that make people who they are and situations what they are.
  • Theory Testing: Case studies are a way to test and refine psychological theories in real-world scenarios. They provide practical insights that can validate or challenge existing hypotheses.
  • Practical Applications: The knowledge gained from case studies can be applied to various fields, from clinical psychology to education and business. It helps professionals make informed decisions and develop effective interventions.
  • Holistic Understanding: Case studies often involve a comprehensive examination of an individual's life or a particular phenomenon. This holistic approach contributes to a more profound comprehension of human behavior and the factors that influence it.

Varieties of a Psychology Case Study

When considering how to write a psychology case study, you should remember that it is a diverse field, and so are the case studies conducted within it. Let's explore the different types from our ' write my research paper ' experts:

  • Descriptive Case Studies: These focus on providing a detailed description of a particular case or phenomenon. They serve as a foundation for further research and can be valuable in generating hypotheses.
  • Exploratory Case Studies: Exploratory studies aim to investigate novel or scarcely explored areas within psychology. They often pave the way for more in-depth research by generating new questions and ideas.
  • Explanatory Case Studies: These delve into the 'why' and 'how' of a particular case, seeking to explain the underlying factors or mechanisms that drive a particular behavior or event.
  • Instrumental Case Studies: In these cases, the individual or situation under examination is instrumental in testing or illustrating a particular theory or concept in psychology.
  • Intrinsic Case Studies: Contrary to instrumental case studies, intrinsic ones explore a case for its own unique significance, aiming to understand the specific details and intricacies of that case without primarily serving as a tool to test broader theories.
  • Collective Case Studies: These studies involve the examination of multiple cases to identify common patterns or differences. They are helpful when researchers seek to generalize findings across a group.
  • Longitudinal Case Studies: Longitudinal studies track a case over an extended period, allowing researchers to observe changes and developments over time.
  • Cross-Sectional Case Studies: In contrast, cross-sectional case studies involve the examination of a case at a single point in time, offering a snapshot of that particular moment.

The Advantages of Psychology Case Studies

Learning how to write a case study offers numerous benefits, making it a valuable research method in the field. Here are some of the advantages:

  • Rich Insights: Case studies provide in-depth insights into individual behavior and experiences, allowing researchers to uncover unique patterns, motivations, and complexities.
  • Holistic Understanding: By examining a case in its entirety, researchers can gain a comprehensive understanding of the factors that influence human behavior, including psychological, environmental, and contextual aspects.
  • Theory Development: Case studies contribute to theory development by providing real-world examples that can validate or refine existing psychological theories.
  • Personalized Approach: Researchers can tailor their methods to fit the specific case, making it a flexible approach that can adapt to the unique characteristics of the subject.
  • Application in Practice: The knowledge gained from case studies can be applied in various practical settings, such as clinical psychology, education, and organizational management, to develop more effective interventions and solutions.
  • Real-World Relevance: Psychology case studies often address real-life issues, making the findings relevant and applicable to everyday situations.
  • Qualitative Data: They generate qualitative data, which can be rich in detail and context, offering a deeper understanding of the subject matter.
  • Hypothesis Generation: Case studies can spark new research questions and hypotheses, guiding further investigations in psychology.
  • Ethical Considerations: In some cases, case studies can be conducted in situations where experimental research may not be ethical, providing valuable insights that would otherwise be inaccessible.
  • Educational Value: Case studies are commonly used as teaching tools, helping students apply theoretical knowledge to practical scenarios and encouraging critical thinking.

How to Write a Psychology Case Study

Crafting a psychology case study requires a meticulous approach that combines the art of storytelling with the precision of scientific analysis. In this section, we'll provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to create an engaging and informative psychology case study, from selecting the right subject to presenting your findings effectively.

Step 1: Gathering Information for Subject Profiling

To create a comprehensive psychology case study, the first crucial step is gathering all the necessary information to build a detailed profile of your subject. This profile forms the backbone of your study, offering a deeper understanding of the individual or situation you're examining.

According to our case study writing service , you should begin by collecting a range of data, including personal history, demographics, behavioral observations, and any relevant documentation. Interviews, surveys, and direct observations are common methods to gather this information. Ensure that the data you collect is relevant to the specific aspects of the subject's life or behavior that you intend to investigate.

By meticulously gathering and organizing this data, you'll lay the foundation for a robust case study that not only informs your readers but also provides the context needed to make meaningful observations and draw insightful conclusions.

Step 2: Selecting a Case Study Method

Once you have gathered all the essential information about your subject, the next step in crafting a psychology case study is to choose the most appropriate case study method. The method you select will determine how you approach the analysis and presentation of your findings. Here are some common case study methods to consider:

  • Single-Subject Case Study: This method focuses on a single individual or a particular event, offering a detailed examination of that subject's experiences and behaviors.
  • Comparative Case Study: In this approach, you analyze two or more cases to draw comparisons or contrasts, revealing patterns or differences among them.
  • Longitudinal Case Study: A longitudinal study involves tracking a subject or group over an extended period, observing changes and developments over time.
  • Cross-Sectional Case Study: This method involves analyzing subjects at a specific point in time, offering a snapshot of their current state.
  • Exploratory Case Study: Exploratory studies are ideal for investigating new or underexplored areas within psychology.
  • Explanatory Case Study: If your goal is to uncover the underlying factors and mechanisms behind a specific behavior or phenomenon, the explanatory case study is a suitable choice.

Step 3: Gathering Background Information on the Subject

In the process of learning how to write a psychology case study, it's essential to delve into the subject's background to build a complete and meaningful narrative. The background information serves as a crucial context for understanding the individual or situation under investigation.

To gather this information effectively:

  • Personal History: Explore the subject's life history, including their upbringing, family background, education, and career path. These details provide insights into their development and experiences.
  • Demographics: Collect demographic data, such as age, gender, and cultural background, as part of your data collection process. These factors can be influential in understanding behavior and experiences.
  • Relevant Events: Identify any significant life events, experiences, or transitions that might have had an impact on the subject's psychology and behavior.
  • Psychological Factors: Assess the subject's psychological profile, including personality traits, cognitive abilities, and emotional well-being, if applicable.
  • Social and Environmental Factors: Consider the subject's social and environmental context, including relationships, living conditions, and cultural influences.

Step 4: Detailing the Subject's Challenges

While writing a psychology case study, it is crucial to provide a thorough description of the subject's symptoms or the challenges they are facing. This step allows you to dive deeper into the specific issues that are the focus of your study, providing clarity and context for your readers.

To effectively describe the subject's symptoms or challenges, consider the following from our psychology essay writing service :

  • Symptomatology: Enumerate the symptoms, behaviors, or conditions that the subject is experiencing. This could include emotional states, cognitive patterns, or any psychological distress.
  • Onset and Duration: Specify when the symptoms or challenges began and how long they have persisted. This timeline can offer insights into the progression of the issue.
  • Impact: Discuss the impact of these symptoms on the subject's daily life, relationships, and overall well-being. Consider their functional impairment and how it relates to the observed issues.
  • Relevant Diagnoses: If applicable, mention any psychological or psychiatric diagnoses that have been made in relation to the subject's symptoms. This information can shed light on the clinical context of the case.

Step 5: Analyzing Data and Establishing a Diagnosis

Once you have gathered all the necessary information and described the subject's symptoms or challenges, the next critical step is to analyze the data and, if applicable, establish a diagnosis.

To effectively analyze the data and potentially make a diagnosis:

  • Data Synthesis: Organize and synthesize the collected data, bringing together all the relevant information in a coherent and structured manner.
  • Pattern Recognition: Identify patterns, themes, and connections within the data. Look for recurring behaviors, triggers, or factors that might contribute to the observed symptoms or challenges.
  • Comparison with Diagnostic Criteria: If the study involves diagnosing a psychological condition, compare the subject's symptoms and experiences with established diagnostic criteria, such as those found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
  • Professional Consultation: It is advisable to consult with qualified professionals, such as clinical psychologists or psychiatrists, to ensure that the diagnosis, if applicable, is accurate and well-informed.
  • Thorough Assessment: Ensure a comprehensive evaluation of the data, considering all possible factors and nuances before reaching any conclusions.

Step 6: Choosing an Intervention Strategy

Choosing an appropriate intervention approach is a pivotal phase in case study psychology, especially if your subject's case involves therapeutic considerations. Here's how to navigate this step effectively:

  • Review Findings: Revisit the data and analysis you've conducted to gain a comprehensive understanding of the subject's symptoms, challenges, and needs.
  • Consultation: If you're not a qualified mental health professional, it's advisable to consult with experts in the field, such as clinical psychologists or psychiatrists. They can offer valuable insights and recommendations for treatment.
  • Tailored Approach: Select a treatment approach that is tailored to the subject's specific needs and diagnosis, if applicable. This could involve psychotherapy, medication, lifestyle changes, or a combination of interventions.
  • Goal Setting: Clearly define the goals and objectives of the chosen treatment approach. What do you hope to achieve, and how will progress be measured?
  • Informed Consent: If the subject is involved in the decision-making process, ensure they provide informed consent and are fully aware of the chosen treatment's details, potential benefits, and risks.
  • Implementation and Monitoring: Once the treatment plan is established, put it into action and closely monitor the subject's progress. Make necessary adjustments based on their responses and evolving needs.
  • Ethical Considerations: Be mindful of ethical standards and maintain the subject's confidentiality and well-being throughout the treatment process.

Step 7: Explaining Treatment Objectives and Procedures

In the final phases of your psychology case study, it's essential to provide a clear and detailed description of the treatment goals and processes that have been implemented. This step ensures that your readers understand the therapeutic journey and its intended outcomes.

Here's how to effectively describe treatment goals and processes:

  • Specific Goals: Outline the specific goals of the chosen treatment approach. What are you aiming to achieve in terms of the subject's well-being, symptom reduction, or overall improvement?
  • Interventions: Describe the therapeutic interventions that have been employed, including psychotherapeutic techniques, medications, or other strategies. Explain how these interventions are intended to address the subject's challenges.
  • Timelines: Specify the expected timeline for achieving treatment goals. This may include short-term and long-term objectives, as well as milestones for assessing progress.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation: Discuss the methods used to monitor and evaluate the subject's response to treatment. How are you measuring progress or setbacks, and how frequently are assessments conducted?
  • Adjustments: Explain how the treatment plan is adaptable as you would in a persuasive essay . If modifications to the goals or interventions are required, clarify the decision-making process for making such adjustments.
  • Collaboration: If relevant, highlight any collaboration with other professionals involved in the subject's care, emphasizing a multidisciplinary approach for comprehensive treatment.
  • Patient Involvement: If the subject is actively engaged in their treatment, detail their role, responsibilities, and any tools or resources provided to support their participation.

Step 8: Crafting the Discussion and Concluding Remarks

In the final phase of your psychology case study, the discussion section is where you interpret the findings, reflect on the significance of your study, and offer insights into the broader implications of the case. Here's how to effectively write this section:

  • Interpretation: Begin by interpreting the data and analysis you've presented in your case study. What do the findings reveal about the subject's psychology, behavior, or experiences?
  • Relevance to Research Questions: Discuss how your findings align with or deviate from the initial research questions or hypotheses you set out to investigate.
  • Comparison with Literature: Compare your findings with existing literature and research in the field of psychology. Highlight any consistencies or disparities and explain their significance.
  • Clinical Considerations: If your case study has clinical or practical relevance, address the implications for therapeutic approaches, interventions, or clinical practices.
  • Generalizability: Evaluate the extent to which the insights from your case study can be generalized to a broader population or other similar cases.
  • Strengths and Limitations: Be candid about the strengths and limitations of your case study. Acknowledge any constraints or biases and explain how they might have influenced the results.
  • Future Research Directions: Suggest areas for future research or additional case studies that could build on your findings and deepen our understanding of the subject matter.
  • Conclusion: Summarize the key takeaways from your case study and provide a concise conclusion that encapsulates the main findings and their significance.

5 Helpful Tips for Crafting a Psychology Case Study

Much like learning how to write a synthesis essay , writing a compelling case study involves careful planning and attention to detail. Here are some essential guidelines to help you in the process:

  • Consider Cultural Sensitivity: Recognize the importance of cultural diversity and sensitivity in your case study. Take into account the cultural background of your subject and its potential impact on their behavior and experiences.
  • Use Clear Citations: Properly cite all sources, including previous research, theories, and relevant literature. Accurate citations lend credibility to your case study and acknowledge the work of others.
  • Engage in Peer Discussion: Engage in discussions with peers or colleagues in the field throughout the case study process. Collaborative brainstorming and sharing insights can lead to a more well-rounded study.
  • Be Mindful of Ethics: Continuously monitor and reassess the ethical considerations of your case study, especially when it involves sensitive topics or individuals. Prioritize the well-being and rights of your participants.
  • Practice Patience and Persistence: Case studies can be time-consuming and may encounter setbacks. Exercise patience and persistence to ensure the quality and comprehensiveness of your research.

Case Study Psychology Example

In this psychology case study example, we delve into a compelling story that serves as a window into the fascinating realm of psychological research, offering valuable insights and practical applications.

Final Outlook

As we conclude this comprehensive writing guide on how to write a psychology case study, remember that every case holds a unique story waiting to be unraveled. The art of crafting a compelling case study lies in your hands, offering a window into the intricate world of the human mind. We encourage you to embark on your own investigative journeys, armed with the knowledge and skills acquired here, to contribute to the ever-evolving landscape of psychology.

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How to Write an Essay: Ultimate Guide

Psychology Case Study Examples

Experiments are often used to help researchers understand how the human mind works. There have been many famous examples in psychology over the years. Some have shown how phenomena like memory and personality work. Others have been disproven over time. Understanding the study design, data, content, and analytical approach of case studies is important to verifying the validity of each study.

In considering case studies, researchers continuously test and reevaluate the conclusions made by past psychologists to continue offering the most up-to-date and effective care to modern clients. Prospective case studies are continually being developed based on previous findings and multiple case studies done in one area can lend credence to the findings. Learning about the famous psychology case studies can help you understand how research continues to shape what psychologists know about the human experience and mind. 

Examples Of The Most Famous Case Study in Psychology

Hundreds of thousands of case studies have been done in psychology, and narrowing a list of the most ground-breaking studies can be challenging. However, the following seven case studies present findings that have defied expectations, achieved positive outcomes for humanity, and launched further research into existing knowledge gaps within the niche.

Phineas Gage

The case of Phineas Gage is perhaps the  most cited study  in psychology. This famous case study showed how different areas of the brain affect personality and cognitive ability. While working as a construction foreman on a railroad, Phineas Gage was involved in an accident in which a rod was pushed through his cheek and brain. He survived, but because of the accident, both his personality and his ability to learn new skills were affected.

Although the case is frequently cited and referenced in psychology, relatively little information about Gage's life before and after the accident is known. Researchers have discovered that the last two decades of his life were spent in his original job, which may have been unlikely to have been possible if the extent of his injuries were as severe as initially believed. Still, his case was a starting point for psychology research on how memory and personality work in the brain, and it is a seminal study for that reason.

The "Feral Child"

Although an outdated term, "feral children" referred to children raised without human interaction, often due to abuse or neglect. One  famous case study of a neglected child was done with a child known as Genie. She was raised in a single bedroom with little human interaction. She never gained the cognitive ability of an average adult, even though she was found at age 13. Later in life, she regressed and stopped speaking altogether. Her case has been studied extensively by psychologists who want to understand how enculturation affects cognitive development. It's one of many cognitive psychology examples that have had an impact on this field.

Henry Molaison

The case study  of Henry Molaison has helped psychologists understand memory. It is one of the most famous case studies in neuroscience. Henry Molaison was in a childhood accident that left him with debilitating seizures. Doctors could stop the seizures by removing slivers of his brain's hippocampus, though they did not fully understand what they were doing at the time. As a result, scientists learned how important the hippocampus is to forming long-term memories. After the surgery, Molaison could no longer form long-term memories, and his short-term memory was brief. The case study started further research into memory and the brain.

Jill Price had one of a few documented cases of hyperthymesia, a term for an overactive memory that allowed her to remember such mundane things as what she had for dinner on an average day in August 20th years previously. Her  case study  was used as a jumping-off point to research how memory works and why some people have exceptional memories. 

However, through more research, it was discovered that her overall memory was not exceptional. Rather, she only remembered details of her own life. She was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), with memories being part of her obsession. This case study is still relevant because it has helped modern psychologists understand how mental illness affects memory.

In the John/Joan  case study , a reputable sexologist tested his theory that nurture, not nature, determined gender. The case study has been cited extensively and laid the groundwork for other research into gender identity. However, the case study was not legitimate. In this study, Dr. John Money performed surgery on an infant whose genitals were damaged during circumcision. 

The boy was raised as a girl; however, he never identified as female and eventually underwent gender-affirming surgery as an adult. Because Dr. Money didn't follow up with the patient appropriately and did not report adverse findings, the case study is still often cited as successful.

Anna O. was the pseudonym given to a German woman who was one of the first to undergo psychoanalysis. Her case inspired many of the theories of Freud and other prominent psychologists of the time. It was determined at the time that Anna's symptoms of depression were eliminated through talk therapy. More recently, it has been suggested that Anna O. had another illness, such as epilepsy, from which she may have recovered during the therapy. This  case study is still cited as a reason psychologists believe that psychotherapy, or talk therapy, can be helpful to many patients. 

The" Wild Boy" Of Aveyron 

Another study done on a child that had grown up without parents was done with a boy named "Victor" who had been found wandering in the wilderness and was thought to have been living alone for years. The boy could not speak, use the bathroom, or connect with others. However, through the study of his condition, he was able to learn bathroom habits, how to dress, writing, and primary language. Psychologists today speculate that he may have been autistic. 

Ethical Concerns For Doing a Case Study

When case studies are flawed through not having enough information or having the wrong information, they can be harmful. Valuable research hours and other resources can be wasted while theories are used for inappropriate treatment. Case studies can therefore cause as much harm as benefit, and psychologists are often careful about how and when they are used.

Those who are not psychologists and are interacting with studies can also practice caution. Psychologists and doctors often disagree on how case studies should be applied. In addition, people without education in psychology may struggle to know whether a case study is built on a faulty premise or misinformation. It can also be possible to generalize case studies to situations they do not apply. If you think a case study might apply to your case or that of a loved one, consider asking a therapist for guidance. 

Case studies are descriptions of real people. The individuals in the studies are studied intensively and often written about in medical journals and textbooks. While some clients may be comfortable being studied for science, others may not have consented due to the inability or lack of consent laws at the time. In addition, some subjects may not have been treated with dignity and respect. 

When considering case study content and findings from psychology, it can be helpful to think of the cases as stories of real individuals. When you strip away the science and look at the case as a whole person in a unique situation, you may get more out of the study than if you look at it as research that proves a theory. 

Therapeutic Implications Of A Case Study

Case examples are sometimes used in therapy to determine the best course of treatment. If a typical case study from psychology aligns with your situation, your therapist may use the treatment methods outlined in the study. Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals also use case examples to understand mental illness and its treatment.

Researchers have reviewed the role of case studies in counseling and psychotherapy. In  one study , the authors discussed how reading case studies benefits therapists, providing a conceptual guide for clinical work and an understanding of the theory behind the practice. They also stressed the importance of teaching psychotherapy trainees to do better case study research. They encouraged practitioners to publish more case studies documenting the methods they use in their practice.

How a Case Study is Used in Counseling

If you want to meet with a psychologist, counseling may benefit you. Therapists often use theories behind popular case studies and can discuss their implications with you. In addition, you may be able to participate in case studies in your area, as psychologists and psychiatrists often perform clinical trials to understand treatments on a deeper level.

Online therapy can also be beneficial if you cannot find a therapist in your area. Through a platform like BetterHelp , you can get matched with a provider meeting your needs and choose between phone, video, or live chat sessions. When experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition, it can sometimes be hard to leave home for therapy. You can use many online therapy platforms from the comfort and safe space of your own home. 

Therapy is a personal experience; not everyone will go into it seeking the same outcomes. Keeping this in mind may ensure you get the most out of online therapy, regardless of your specific goals. If you're interested in learning more about the effectiveness of online therapy, you can look into various clinical studies that have shown it can be as effective , if not more effective, than in-person options. 

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What is case study in psychology?

Meaning, Significance and Ways to Write one

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Psychology is an interesting subject. You cannot deny the fun of learning how minds work. The subject needs special attention to detail. You cannot neglect the various lessons of the subject. A case study  in psychology needs serious attention. These tasks are used to study and analyze a person, group or phenomenon. You need to properly understand the subject and analyze the case well to solve them. There are various methods to solve such cases. You need to be a good observer and choose the proper method to solve the case.

To understand what is a case study in psychology, you need to dig deep into the subject and understand the significance of the same. The following few sections will help you understand and work on them properly.

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Understanding case study in psychology:, why are they so important.

Case studies are all about analyzing particular cases to understand the subject better. You cannot deny the essence of case studies in any subject. Now, you might like to know why are case studies so important in psychology. The subject that studies the human mind needs a lot of references. You cannot understand the human mind or the various aspects if you don't look into various examples.

Students pursuing the subject are always in search of answers. It is not only about the theories presented by famous psychologists. If you dig deep into it, you will see these psychologists have come to a conclusion after going through several cases. A   case study in psychology helps describe a situation and better understand the human mind. You will be unable to do so just by knowing the theories.

If you have ever visited a psychologist, you will see that the person considers various things to understand your problem. Understanding the underlying problems of the mind is what psychologists do. If you want to be a good psychologist, you need to know the various ways of treating a patient. It will be impossible for you to understand the problems if you don't make a habit of solving case studies.

The case studies help you take a descriptive approach and understand a person from various aspects. Hence, don’t ignore case studies while pursuing the subject. It will do you no good. While working on the tasks, you need to be cautious. It is essential to follow the correct format to obtain suitable grades. The following section will help you understand a case study in psychology format.

What is the Case Study Format in Psychology?

You need to follow a specific format while writing case studies like all other tasks. The subject can open a lot of opportunities. Therefore, it is essential to take the task seriously and solve it correctly. You need to know and write the case study in psychology format correctly. Here’s what you need to do:

Gather accurate information to create a profile

The case study must have relevant data about the subject you are working on. Use any form of sources to gather the most appropriate data. It will help you create a good profile. It is something you need to do before deciding on the research methods. You can check for information from previous case studies on the same subject. Check these sources after going through the previous cases:

  • Official or government records
  • Personal items
  • Observations

Select a case study method

The next step is to select and explain the method you will follow for the case. It is an integral part of the task. The readers must understand and relate to the same. You must understand what is being asked in the case and select the correct research method.

Gather and present background information on the subject

When you start writing the case study, ensure to provide some background information on the subject. It will help the readers understand the subject better and relate to your suggestions and advice. Ensure to collect the following information:

  • Employment status
  • Health status
  • Family members
  • Relationship status
  • Family health history
  • Drug and alcohol history
  • Challenges in life
  • Coping skills

Explain the symptoms or problems of the subject

You cannot analyze a subject without knowing the problems or symptoms. Your readers need to know the same as well. Therefore, you must include the symptoms or problems of the subject in your case study. You can include any emotional, physical or sensory symptoms the subject might be experiencing in this part.

Analyze data and suggest the best diagnosis

In the next section, analyze the data carefully, and suggest the best diagnosis for the subject. You must have a clear understanding of the problems before doing so. The students often fail to convince the readers in this section. Take help from your teachers before working on this section.

Once you have analyzed the data and have suggested the best diagnosis, move on to the three concluding sections, namely:

  • Choosing the proper treatment approach
  • Explaining treatment goals and processes
  • Discussion section

It is not easy, but if you know the right case study writing tips, you will sail through them quickly.

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Case Study Writing Tips for Students

Knowing the correct ways to write a psychology case study is essential. Here are a few case study writing tips for students:

  • Remember and use the rules of the formatting style as suggested by your instructor
  • Use fictitious names for the patients or clients
  • Refer to previous case studies and understand the correct formatting methods and follow the same
  • Proofread and edit before submitting the paper

You will be able to write a flawless case study if you follow the tips mentioned above.

Various Types of Case Study in Education

Case studies can be of various types. You need to understand the type before solving them.

Here are the various types for your reference:

  • Illustrative case studies
  • Cumulative case studies
  • Exploratory (or pilot) case studies
  • Critical instance case studies

Understand the various types of case studies in education before working on the same.

Go through the Case Study Examples for Students for Better Understanding

You cannot dive into the subject without knowing the correct approach. It is essential to go through some case study examples for students before working on the tasks. It will help you understand the proper writing methods and solve the case studies quickly.

Refer to the various websites or scholarly articles to properly understand case studies.

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What Is A Case Study In Psychology?

When people think about psychology studies, they are most likely to think about studies involving several participants split across a number of experimental and control groups. Studies like this are a good way to investigate the effect of a certain treatment or activity, but they are not always the best option. For example, if a scientist is interested in a specific rare disease, they cannot always find enough people with that disease to participate in a useful study. Similarly, one cannot give a group of participants a rare disease (for obvious reasons) and compare them to a group of participants without that disease. For situations like this, there are case studies.

What is a case study?

A case study is, as the name suggests, a study of a single case. For example, if someone has an extremely rare disease, a group of scientists might conduct a case study of that disease rather than attempting to set up an experimental study. In that case study, the researchers might test the effectiveness of a certain drug in treating that disease and carefully document the response of that participant over time.

Of course, the results seen in that one participant will not necessarily apply to all people with that rare disease. However, if the case study shows promising results, that treatment can then be tested in a larger experimental study. If it does not, it indicates that the treatment is not necessarily effective, at least in people that are similar to the original participant in the case study.

Why are case studies useful in psychology?

When people are still learning about psychology, they might think that group studies showing group effects are always better than individual studies showing individual effects. Of course, there is some truth to this notion, as results obtained from a large number of people are likely to be more generalizable than results obtained from a single person. However, this does not mean that we should discount the importance of individual effects.

Consider the following: In studies looking solely at group effects, individual effects can be masked. In other words, certain statistical quirks can lead to the appearance of a group effect despite the fact that no single individual showed that effect. While this is rare, it is possible. For this reason, it is important to consider individual effects. That is why, even in experimental studies examining groups, it can be useful to examine individual effects within that group. This underlines the value of case studies.

Wrapping up

At the end of the day, there are many good reasons that experimental studies examining groups are the most common types of psychological studies. However, case studies are also extremely valuable, particularly when group experiments are less feasible. Just as psychology is a large topic encompassing a wide variety of factors, both case studies and experimental group studies should be used in the larger overall strategy of psychology research.

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What is case study in psychology?

November 5, 2022

what is case study psychology

Why is case study used in psychology?

They allow researchers to observe and record information about rare, impractical, or unethical conditions and behaviours . They provide researchers with new evidence to support psychological theories. They help researchers develop hypotheses that others can study or add to in the future.

What are examples of case studies?

Types of Case Studies

Researchers might study a group of people in a certain setting or look at an entire community . For example, psychologists might explore how access to resources in a community has affected the collective mental well-being of those living there.

What is case study method?

The case study method is a learning technique in which the student is faced a particular problem, the case . The case study facilitates the exploration of a real issue within a defined context, using a variety of data sources (Baxter et al., 2008).

what is case study psychology

What is case study in psychology? – Related Questions

What are the 3 methods of case study?

He has helpfully characterised three main types of case study: intrinsic, instrumental and collective [8]. An intrinsic case study is typically undertaken to learn about a unique phenomenon.

What are the main features of case study?

  • Arriving at generalizations.
  • Presenting a detailed case history.
  • Developing an in-depth understanding of the case.
  • Helping solve the problem of the case.

What is case method with example?

As an example of the case method group activity, a faculty member teaching an industrial/organizational psychology course divided the students into groups based on time zones and created a discussion forum for each group . They completed a learning team charter to establish their group covenant.

What is case study short answer?

A case study is a scenario in a particular professional context which students are expected to analyse and respond to, guided by specific questions posed concerning the situation . In many cases, the scenario or case study involves a number of issues or problems that must be dealt with in a professional workplace.

what is case study psychology

What are the steps of case study method?

  • Determine and define research questions.
  • Select cases and determine data collection and analysis techniques.
  • Preparation for data collection.
  • Collection of data in the field.
  • Evaluate and analyze data.
  • Prepare the report.

What are the 4 most important parts of case study?

  • Start with a Compelling Title and Summary.
  • Share Background Information About Your Customer.
  • Explain the Challenge Your Customer Faced.
  • Discuss Your Customer’s Decision Process.
  • Explain the Solution and Implementation.
  • Share the End Results.
  • Include Supporting Visuals and Quotes.

How do you prepare for a case study?

  • Listen to the interviewer and ask questions.
  • Structure the problem and form a framework.
  • Think before speaking.
  • Focus on high-impact issues.
  • Generate a hypothesis and explore options creatively.
  • Demonstrate business judgment.
  • Make quick and accurate calculations.

How do you start a case study?

  • Introduce the topic area of the report.
  • Outline the purpose of the case study.
  • Outline the key issue(s) and finding(s) without the specific details.
  • Identify the theory used.
  • Summarise recommendations.

How many steps are in a case study?

It discusses the seven steps employed in a case study approach, namely: (1) Justification for the research paradigm and research methodology, (2) Justification for the case study method, (3) Criteria for judging the quality of case study design (4) Designing the case study, (5) Criteria for selecting a case design, (6)

What is another word for case study?

What are the 7 steps to write a convincing case study.

  • Don’t have over expectations about your case studies.
  • Find something interesting to engage readers.
  • Make your case study for the target audience.
  • Follow the right structure in your document.
  • Use relevant data in your case study.
  • Draw your company or service as a helping hand.

What are the 6 parts of case study in order?

  • Preparation. Just like with any study, it’s important to first prepare to conduct the case analysis.
  • Introduction.
  • Background information.
  • Proposed solutions.
  • Recommendations.

How long should a case study be?

While the guidelines and template contain much detail, your finished case study should be only 500 to 1,500 words in length.

Is there a format for case study?

Writing a Case Study Draft. Your draft should contain at least 4 sections: an introduction; a body where you should include background information, an explanation of why you decided to do this case study, and a presentation of your main findings; a conclusion where you present data; and references.

What is the best format for a case study?

Downloadable PDF is the most common study case format, but it could be shared as a website page section, a video, or a slide presentation. Although the content itself is more important than the appearance, some rules could organize ideas to make reading more attractive and fluid.

what is case study psychology

What is the fastest way to memorize a case study?

A case study on one side

Condensing information onto one side of A4 or A3 is a really useful way of streamlining the case study and making it easier for a student to memorise. Writing out the notes forces the student to read (and hopefully process) the material which reinforces learning.

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What Is Psychoanalytic Therapy?

Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

what is case study psychology

Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.

what is case study psychology

NoSystem Images / Getty Images


Things to consider, how to get started.

Psychoanalytic therapy is a form of talk therapy based on Sigmund Freud's theories of psychoanalysis . The approach explores how the unconscious mind influences your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Specifically, it examines how your experiences (often from childhood) may be contributing to your current experience and actions. Psychoanalytic approaches to emotional disorders have advanced a great deal since Freud's time.

Freud described the unconscious as the reservoir of desires, thoughts, and memories that are below the surface of conscious awareness. He believed that these unconscious influences could often lead to psychological distress and disturbances.

People undergoing psychoanalytic therapy often meet with their psychoanalyst at least once a week. They can remain in therapy for months or even years.

Psychoanalysts use a variety of techniques to gain insight into your behavior. Some of the more popular techniques include:

  • Dream interpretation : According to Freud, dream analysis is by far the most important psychoanalytic technique. He often referred to dreams as "the royal road to the unconscious." Psychoanalysts may interpret dreams to get insight into the workings of your unconscious mind.
  • Free association : Free association is an exercise during which the psychoanalyst encourages you to freely share your thoughts. This can lead to the emergence of unexpected connections and memories.

In addition, during psychoanalysis, you might find that you are experiencing "transference." Transference occurs when you project your feelings about another person onto the psychoanalyst. Talking about these feelings can help your psychoanalyst understand how you interact with others.

Psychoanalysts spend a lot of time listening to people talk about their lives, which is why this method is often referred to as "the talking cure."

What Psychoanalytic Therapy Can Help With

Psychoanalytic therapy may be used to treat a number of different psychological conditions, including:

  • Emotion struggles or trauma
  • Identity problems
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Self-assertion
  • Psychosomatic disorders
  • Relationship issues
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Sexual problems

Benefits of Psychoanalytic Therapy

What makes psychoanalytic therapy different from other forms of treatment? A review of the research comparing psychoanalytic approaches to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) identified seven features that set the psychoanalytic approach apart.

  • Focuses on emotions . Where CBT is centered on cognition and behaviors, psychoanalytic therapy explores the full range of emotions that a patient is experiencing.
  • Explores avoidance . People often avoid certain feelings, thoughts, and situations they find distressing. Understanding what a client is avoiding can help both the psychoanalyst and the client understand why such avoidance comes into play.
  • Identifies recurring themes . Some people may be aware of their self-destructive behaviors but unable to stop them. Others may not be aware of these patterns and how they influence their behaviors.
  • Exploration of past experienced . Other therapies often focus more on the here-and-now, or how current thoughts and behaviors influence how a person functions. The psychoanalytic approach helps people explore their pasts and understand how it affects their present psychological difficulties. It can help patients shed the bonds of past experience to live more fully in the present.
  • Explores interpersonal relationships . Through the therapy process, people are able to explore their relationships with others, both current and past.
  • Emphasizes the therapeutic relationship . Because psychoanalytic therapy is so personal, the relationship between the psychoanalyst and the patient provides a unique opportunity to explore and reword relational patterns that emerge in the treatment relationship.
  • Free-flowing . Where other therapies are often highly structured and goal-oriented, psychoanalytic therapy allows the patient to explore freely. Patients are free to talk about fears, fantasies, desires, and dreams.

As with any approach to mental health treatment, psychoanalytic therapy can have its pluses and minuses. Before deciding on this approach, it's important to take these factors into account.

Success often hinges on the ability to confront potentially stressful or triggering experiences. While some critics have derided the success rates of psychoanalytic therapy, research suggests that both long- and short-term psychoanalytic therapy can effectively treat a range of conditions.

Long-term psychoanalytic therapy is usually defined as lasting one year or 50 sessions. Short-term psychoanalytic therapy, on the other hand, is defined as fewer than 40 sessions or less than one year of treatment.

Symptom Reduction

One review of the effectiveness of long-term psychoanalytic therapies found moderate to large success rates for reducing symptoms of a variety of psychopathologies.

A 2021 review of studies found that short-term psychoanalytic therapy led to lasting improvements in somatic symptoms, depressive symptoms, and anxiety symptoms.

Lasting Improvements

People who receive psychoanalytic treatment tend to retain these gains. Most continue to improve even after therapy ends. On the other hand, the benefits of other evidence-based therapies tend to diminish over time.

A 2010 review published in the American Psychologist suggested that psychoanalytic therapy was as effective as other evidence-based therapies.

As with all treatment methods, there are also potential downsides that should be considered. This form of therapy tends to require ongoing sessions. Traditional psychoanalysis could involve three to five sessions a week for several years, however psychoanalysis psychotherapy is less frequent and may be undertaken once to twice a week. Depending on how long your therapy lasts, the costs can mount up.

Psychoanalytic therapy can also be an intense process. It involves evoking emotional responses and often challenges established defense mechanisms . While the process can sometimes result in uneasiness, it can also help you understand the unconscious forces that exert an influence over your current behavior.

If you think you or someone you love would benefit from psychoanalytic therapy, the first step is to seek out a trained professional. To find a qualified psychoanalyst, start by asking your primary care physician for recommendations. You can also search the directory available on the American Psychoanalytic Association's website .

Friends who have had a good experience with psychoanalytic treatment can also be another good source of recommendations. If you do not have a good referral from someone you know, there are a number of online psychoanalyst networks and directories that can point you in the right direction.

Once you have identified a potential psychoanalyst, make a call to set up an initial consultation. During this consultation, you can further explore if psychoanalytic therapy is the right approach for you.

Psychoanalytic therapy is just one mental health treatment approach that you may want to consider. Always talk to your doctor or therapist to determine which  psychotherapy method might be the most effective for your individual needs.

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Freud S. The interpretation of dreams: The complete and definitive text . Basic Books; 2010.

Shedler J. The efficacy of psychodynamic psychotherapy . Am Psychol. 2010;65(2):98-109. doi:10.1037/a0018378

Fonagy P. The effectiveness of psychodynamic psychotherapies: An update . World Psychiatry . 2015;14(2):137-150. doi:10.1002/wps.20235

Leichsenring F, Rabung S. Effectiveness of long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy: A meta-analysis . JAMA . 2008;300(13):1551-1565. doi:10.1001/jama.300.13.1551

De Maat S, de Jonghe F, Schoevers R, Dekker J.  The effectiveness of long-term psychoanalytic therapy: A systematic review of empirical studies .  Harv Rev Psychiatry . 2009;17(1):1-23. doi:10.1080/10673220902742476

Abbass A, Lumley MA, Town J, et al. Short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy for functional somatic disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis of within-treatment effects . Journal of Psychosomatic Research . 2021;145:110473. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychores.2021.110473

By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

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Psychological Disorders: Case Studies Case Study 1: For the past...

Psychological Disorders: Case Studies Case Study 1:

For the past few weeks Mary has felt extremely tired.  She's called in sick several times and has a hard time concentrating when she is at work.  Her coworkers have noticed that she is often irritable and withdrawn, which is quite different from her typically upbeat and friendly nature.  She used to enjoy meeting her friends for coffee and playing raquetball at their local club, but lately does not feel like hanging out with anyone, believing she wouldn't be good company anyway.

Mary has been having trouble sleeping and when she does fall asleep she wakes up several times during the night.  She cries often, which is not like her.  She doesn't seem to want to talk to her husband about her feelings and doesn't appear to want to get close to him.

Mary is unhappy with her life. She gets frustrated with herself because she feels like she has every reason to be happy, yet can't seem to shake the sense of doom and gloom that has been clouding each day as of late.

1. Diagnosis of Mary ( only list one diagnosis so choose the best one ): Be sure to provide a thorough explanation for your answer listing specific information from the case study in your determination and support your diagnosis using information from the learning materials & your textbook.

2. What treatment do you believe to be best for Mary? (list more than 1 treatment option ) 

3. Why do you believe this treatment would be beneficial? (support your ideas with information from the textbook or learning materials)

Textbook reference: Psychology (Spielman, R. M.). OpenStax, Rice University, Houston, TX

Answer & Explanation

1) Diagnosis of Mary: Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)

Explanation: Mary's symptoms align with the criteria for Major Depressive Disorder. She exhibits persistent feelings of fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, withdrawal from social activities, changes in sleep patterns (insomnia), frequent crying, and an overall sense of unhappiness and hopelessness. These symptoms have been present for a few weeks, indicating a significant impact on her daily functioning. The fact that Mary acknowledges having every reason to be happy but cannot shake the feeling of doom and gloom is consistent with the negative cognitive patterns often observed in individuals with depression.

2) Treatment Options for Mary:

  • a. Psychotherapy (Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy - CBT): CBT is a widely used and effective therapeutic approach for treating Major Depressive Disorder. It focuses on identifying and challenging negative thought patterns and behaviors, helping individuals develop healthier coping mechanisms. In Mary's case, addressing her distorted thoughts about herself, her life, and her relationships can contribute to a more positive outlook.
  • b. Medication (Antidepressant medication): Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are commonly prescribed medications for depression. These medications can help regulate neurotransmitter levels in the brain, alleviating depressive symptoms. Considering the severity of Mary's symptoms, medication may be a valuable adjunct to psychotherapy

3) Rationale for Treatment Options:

a. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is based on the premise that changing maladaptive thought patterns can lead to changes in emotions and behaviors. Given Mary's negative thinking, withdrawal from enjoyable activities, and difficulty expressing her feelings, CBT can help her identify and challenge these negative thoughts, develop better coping strategies, and rebuild a more positive and adaptive mindset.

b. Antidepressant Medication: Medication can provide relatively quicker relief from severe depressive symptoms, making it easier for individuals to engage in psychotherapy. The combination of medication and therapy has been shown to be particularly effective in treating moderate to severe depression. Medication can help regulate neurotransmitter imbalances that contribute to depressive symptoms, providing a foundation for Mary to actively participate in therapy and make necessary lifestyle changes.

It's important to note that the choice of treatment should be made in consultation with a mental health professional, and the effectiveness of the treatment may vary from person to person.

Psychology : Spielman, Rose M., author : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive . (2014). Internet Archive. https://archive.org/details/Psychology_201906

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Do pets make you happier? Study shows they didn't during the pandemic

There is a general understanding that pets have a positive impact on one's well-being. A new study by Michigan State University found that although pet owners reported pets improving their lives, there was not a reliable association between pet ownership and well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin , assessed 767 people over three times in May 2020. The researchers took a mixed-method approach that allowed them to look at several indicators of well-being while also asking people in an open-ended question to reflect on the role of pets from their point of view. Pet owners reported that pets made them happy. They claimed pets helped them feel more positive emotions and provided affection and companionship. They also reported negative aspects of pet ownership like being worried about their pet's well-being and having their pets interfere with working remotely.

However, when their happiness was compared to nonpet owners, the data showed no difference in the well-being of pet owners and nonpet owners over time. The researchers found that it did not matter what type of pet was owned, how many pets were owned or how close they were with their pet. The personalities of the owners were not a factor.

"People say that pets make them happy, but when we actually measure happiness, that doesn't appear to be the case," said William Chopik, an associate professor in MSU's Department of Psychology and co-author of the study. "People see friends as lonely or wanting companionship, and they recommend getting a pet. But it's unlikely that it'll be as transformative as people think."

The researchers explored several reasons why there is not a difference between the well-being of pet owners and nonpet owners. One of them being that nonpet owners may have filled their lives with a variety of other things that make them happy.

  • Staying Healthy
  • Medical Devices
  • Medical Imaging
  • Psychology Research
  • Social Psychology
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Functional neuroimaging
  • Companion dog
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Domestic goat
  • Influenza pandemic

Story Source:

Materials provided by Michigan State University . Original written by Shelly DeJong. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference :

  • William J. Chopik, Jeewon Oh, Rebekka Weidmann, Jonathan R. Weaver, Rhonda N. Balzarini, Giulia Zoppolat, Richard B. Slatcher. The Perks of Pet Ownership? The Effects of Pet Ownership on Well-Being During the COVID-19 Pandemic . Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin , 2023; DOI: 10.1177/01461672231203417

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This article is part of the research topic.

Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship: The Pedagogical Innovation for Future Talents

Analysis of pre-service teachers' knowledge about the entrepreneurial competence: a case study of a Spanish university

  • 1 University of Deusto, Spain
  • 2 La Inmaculada MSJO, Spain

The final, formatted version of the article will be published soon.

This research is based on the role played by the entrepreneurial competence (EC), entrepreneurial education (EE) and teachers in the social, economic and cultural development of a society. The aim of this study is to analyse the level of EC knowledge, specifically of Entrepreneurial Knowledge and Understanding, and of Assessment, which pre-service teachers have at a university in Spain The general objective of the study is to analyse the level of knowledge pre-servicefuture, those teachers who are studying, or have recently studied, the Bachelor's Degree in Primary Education at the University of Deusto (Spain) (DPEUD) have about the EC. A questionnaire, based on EntreComp Framework, underwent expert validation and was applied to a sample of 304 students. The data showed that 25% of the respondents believed that EE was related to educating through entrepreneurship; more than 45% did not know about EntreComp and EntreCompEdu, whereas only three participants were aware of how to use them; and more than 10% of the pre-service teachers did not consider assessing the CE. These results lead to the conclusion that there is a need for EE to form part of the different national teacher training strategies; and for policy makers to include EE in the different educational frameworks, laws and decrees. In addition, it can be concluded that social, cultural and economic value can be created through entrepreneurial actions; that EC should be assessed; and that teachers should motivate students to share and implement entrepreneurial ideas and actions.

Keywords: entrepreneurship education, EntreComp, EntreCompEdu, Entrepreneur teacher, Spain, higher education, University

Received: 18 Aug 2023; Accepted: 20 Nov 2023.

Copyright: © 2023 Arruti, Paños-Castro and Benitez. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) . The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Arantza Arruti, University of Deusto, Bilbao, Spain

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