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PSY 471/571 Health Psychology: PsycINFO


Subject Heading Searching

Utilize the thesaurus to search for keywords/terms, one at a time. Explore any narrower or broader terms that might be applicable. Make selections and click "Add to Search”. Repeat the same process for the second concept.

Your search will look like this:


Advanced Search with Subject Headings Tutorial

Explode and Major Heading


"Explode" means that you are searching for a particular subject heading and all the narrower subject headings underneath it. For example, if you search:

  • Social Interaction [Explode]

You are also searching its narrower terms:

  • Encouragement
  • Interpersonal Interaction
  • Nonviolence
  • Peace
  • Physical Contact
  • Teasing
  • Victimization

Major Heading

Most citations in PsycINFO are assigned 5-7 subject headings. 2 or 3 of those subject headings are likely to be designated as the primary focus of the article. Selecting "Major" means you will only retrieve those articles that have that subject heading designated as major. While this option can be useful occasionally, often it will limit your search too much and you will have very few articles to select. 

About PsycINFO

Keyword Search Tips

Construct your search using the key concepts relevant to your topic. 

  • Use OR to search both keywords/phrases
  • Quotation marks can be used to search for phrases (e.g. "social cognition")
  • Truncation searches for variants of a word. Use an asterik (*) at the root (e.g. psych* searches for psychology, psychologist, psychological, psychosocial)

Using Limits

Use limits to filter results for specific aspects of the resource such as particular age groups, research methodology, or publication type. These selections help you quickly narrow down results to items most relevant for you (and your assignment!). 

screenshot of limit options in PsycINFO

Get Full Text

Once you've identified an article in a database and you want to the full text, click on the green Find It @ PSU button to see if the article is available from journals in the Library (electronic and print). If you see a Download Article link, you can click to access the electronic copy.

If there is no Download Article link, check for print holdings. If the article is not available from our library electronically or in print, you can request the article using Interlibrary Loan.