The journal's focus is on empirical research reports; however, specialized theoretical, methodological, and review papers are also published. Articles typically involve a lengthy introduction and literature review, followed by several related studies that explore different aspects of a theory or test multiple competing hypotheses. Some researchers see the multiple-experiments requirement as an excessive burden that delays the publication of valuable work, but this requirement also helps maintain the impression that research that is published in JPSP has been thoroughly vetted and is less likely to be the result of a type I error or an unexplored confound.
The journal is divided into three independently edited sections. Attitudes and Social Cognition addresses those domains of social behavior in which cognition plays a major role, including the interface of cognition with overt behavior, affect, and motivation. Interpersonal Relations and Group Processes focuses on psychological and structural features of interaction in dyads and groups. Personality Processes and Individual Differences publishes research on all aspects of personality psychology. It includes studies of individual differences and basic processes in behavior, emotions, coping, health, motivation, and other phenomena that reflect personality.
Abstracting and indexing
The journal is abstracted and indexed in:
According to the, the journal has a 2014 impact factor of 5.031, ranking it 3rd out of 60 journals in the category "Psychology, Social".
In popular culture
Non-fiction author Malcolm Gladwell writes frequently about findings that are reported in the journal. Gladwell, upon being asked where he would like to be buried, replied "I'd like to be buried in the current-periodicals room, maybe next to the unbound volumes of the (my favorite journal)."