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IB Psychology Course Content

Ok….IB psychology has more content than my Uncle Donald has back hair (trust me…a small mouse can get lost in there).  But if you understand the following concepts, it becomes a whole lot easier:

1.      You will know ALL the possible questions before the test

2.      There is NO ONE right way to answer a question.  I guess there is a wrong way, but if you can support your claim with evidence you will be awarded marks (I really just want to say points….damn IB).  So do NOT think that the suggestions that are made on this website are the only way to go.  There are definitely better ways to answer the questions…so get off your lazy ass and do some work for yourself.

3.      You can be selective in what you have to learn.   In other words, you can actually hedge your bets and focus on aspects you (and your teacher) think will be on the exam.

The IB Psychology curriculum is divided up into 3 mandatory units called The Core and 5 optional topics (you need to know one of the five for SL and two of the five for HL).


1.    Outline principles that define the biological level of analysis
2.    Examine one study related to localization of function in the brain
3.    Explain, using one or more examples, the effects of neurotransmission on human behavior
4.    Explain, using examples, the function of two hormones on human behavior
5.    Discuss two effects of the environment on physiological processes
6.    Examine one interaction between cognition and physiology in terms of behavior
7.    Discuss the use of brain-imaging technologies in investigating the relationship between biological factors and behavior
8.    Discuss the extent to which genetics influences behavior
9.    Examine one evolutionary explanation of behavior
10.  Discuss ethical considerations in research into genetic influences on behavior

1.   Outline principles that define the cognitive level of analysis and explain how these principles may be demonstrated in research
2.   Evaluate schema theory
3.   Evaluate two models or theories of one cognitive process with reference to research studies
4.   Explain how biological factors may affect one cognitive process
5.   Discuss how social or cultural factors affect one cognitive process
6.   Evaluate the extent to which a cognitive process is reliable
7.   Discuss the use of technology in investigating cognitive processes
8.   To what extent do cognitive and biological factors interact in emotion?
9.   Evaluate one theory of how emotion may affect one cognitive process

1.   Outline principles that define the socio-cultural level of analysis
2.   Describe the role of situational and dispositional factors in explaining behavior
3.   Discuss two errors in attributions
4.   Evaluate social identity theory
5.   Explain the formation of stereotypes and their effect on behavior
6.   Explain social learning theory, making reference to two relevant studies
7.   Compliance techniques
8.   Evaluate research on conformity to group norms
9.   Discuss factors influencing conformity
10. Define the terms culture and cultural norms
11. Examine the role of two cultural dimensions on behavior
12. Explain, using examples, emic and etic concepts

1.  Distinguish between altruism and prosocial behavior
2.  Contrast two theories explaining altruism in humans
3.  Using one or more research studies, explain cross-cultural differences in prosocial behavior

4.  Examine factors influencing bystanderism

5.  Examine biological, psychological, and social origins of attraction
6.  Discuss the role of communication in maintaining relationships
7.  Explain the role that culture plays in the formation and maintenance of relationships
8.  Analyze why relationships may change or end
9.  Evaluate socio-cultural explanations of the origins of violence
10. Discuss the relative effectiveness of two strategies for reducing violence
11. Discuss the effects of short-term and long‑term exposure to violence

1.  Describe stressors
2.  Discuss physiological, psychological and social aspects of stress
3.  Evaluate strategies for coping with stress

4.  Explain factors related to the development of substance abuse or addictive behavior

5.  Examine prevention strategies and treatments for substance abuse and addictive behavior
6.  Discuss factors related to overeating and the development of obesity
7.  Discuss prevention strategies and treatments for overeating and obesity

1.  Evaluate theories of cognitive development

2.  Discuss how social and environmental variables may affect cognitive development
3.  Examine attachment in childhood and its role in the subsequent formation of relationships

4.  Discuss potential effects of deprivation or trauma in childhood on later development

5.  Define resilience
6.  Discuss strategies to build resilience
7.  Discuss the formation and development of gender roles
8.  Explain cultural variations in gender roles
9.  Describe adolescence
10. Discuss the relationship between physical change and development of identity during adolescence
11. Examine psychological research into adolescence


1.  Examine the concepts of normality and abnormality
2.  Discuss validity and reliability of diagnosis
3.  Discuss cultural and ethical considerations in diagnosis

4.  Describe symptoms and prevalence of two disorders (anxiety, affective, or eating disorders)

5.  Analyze etiologies (in terms of biological, cognitive and/or sociocultural factors) of one disorder from two of the following groups:

–– anxiety disorders

–– affective disorders

–– eating disorders.

6.  Discuss cultural and gender variation in prevalence of disorders
7.  Examine biomedical, individual and group approaches to treatment
8.  Evaluate the use of biomedical, individual and group approaches to treatment
9.  Discuss the use of eclectic approaches to treatment
10. Discuss the relationship between etiology and therapeutic approach in relation to one disorder.

The Studies