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Human Behavior and Social Development /Lifespan - Boyhood Assignment: Search Strategy

Using Keywords to Search

Keywords are words that can appear anywhere in an article including the title or the article text. You'll use keywords to search all of the library databases.   

Before you begin searching, try to think of the keywords and related terms that best describe and relate to your topic. For example, if you were researching depression in new moms, you might come up with this list:

Identify a few keywords and search using only those words: depression postpartum mothers.When it comes to searching academic databases, use scientific language. For instance, search mothers instead of moms. Another example might be looking for children instead of kids.

  • Avoid natural language: Asking a database "Why are new moms depressed?" won't get you very good results.
  • Make sure terms are spelled correctly and that you use other terms that might also apply to, or describe your topic.  For example if you want to find articles about teenagers, you should also use the terms adolescents and young adults.
  • If you aren't sure about what keywords to use, consider reading an encyclopedia article on your topic to get ideas for other keywords.
  • Ask the library staff or your instructor for suggestions on keywords to use. 

PsychoSocial Stages of Development

Stages of Psychosexual Development

Sample Searches



  • adolescence and identity
  • Adolescence and independence
  • adolescence and peer relationships
  • adolescence and sexuality

Elementary School

  • social development and elementary school boys
  • independence and elementary school boys

In Science Direct:

  • psychosocial development and adolescence - Limit to research articles
  • Social development and adolescence - Limit to research articles and Journal of Adolescence

In Education Source

  • adolescent development and identity

In ​APA PsychArticles:

  • Go to Thesaurus
  • Search psychosocial development


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