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The IB Diploma Programme psychology course is the systematic study of behaviour and mental processes.

Since the psychology course examines the interaction of biological, cognitive and sociocultural influences on human behaviour, it is well placed in group 3, individuals and societies. Students undertaking the course can expect to develop an understanding of how psychological knowledge is generated, developed and applied. This will allow them to have a greater understanding of themselves and appreciate the diversity of human behaviour. 

The holistic approach reflected in the curriculum, which sees biological, cognitive and sociocultural analysis being taught in an integrated way ensures that students are able to develop an understanding of what all humans share, as well as the immense diversity of influences on human behaviour and mental processes. The ethical concerns raised by the methodology and application of psychological research are also key considerations of the IB psychology course.

Please click on the arrow for a detailed breakdown:

Unit / Block of workKey Episodes / QuestionsAdditional DetailsLength of time.Learner Attribute(s)
Approaches to researching behaviourHypotheses and VariablesPaper 3 contentWeek 1Principled
 Sampling TechniquesPaper 3 content

Random sampling
convenience/opportunity sampling
Volunteer sampling
Purposive sampling
Snowball sampling
Week 2Principled
 Ethical ConsiderationsPaper 3 contentWeek 3Principled
Cognitive ProcessingModels of MemoryMultistore Model *add experiments
Working Memory Model *add case study
Week 4-5Thinker
 Schema TheoryCognitive SchemaWeek 6Thinker
 Thinking and Decision MakingDual- processing model
Intuitive Thinking (automatic)
Rational Thinking (controlled)
Week 7Thinker
Reliability of Cognitive ProcessesReconstructive Memory Theory Week 8Thinker
 Biases in Thinking and Decision MakingHeuristic – anchoring bias
Cognitive bias- confirmation bias
Week 9Thinker
Emotion and CognitionThe influence of emotion on cognitive processesFlashbulb memories *add questionnaires
The amygdala’s influence on memory encoding
Week 10Thinker
Cognitive processing in a technological (digital/modern) worldThe influence (positive and negative) of digital technologies on cognitive processesHL onlyWeek 11Thinker
 Methods used to study the interaction between technologies and cognitive processesHL only *correlational studiesWeek 12Thinker
The relationship between brain and behaviourTechniques used to study the brain in relation to behaviourMagnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)
Week 13Knowledgable 
 Localization of function Week 13Knowledgable 
 NeuroplasticityNeural network
Neural pruning
Week 14Knowledgable 
Synapse (how these relate to excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters)
Week 15Knowledgable 
Hormones and Pheromones and their effects on behaviourHormones Week 16Knowledgable 
 PhermonesArguments for and against the influence of pheromonesWeek 16Knowledgable 
The relationship between genetics and behaviourGenes Week 17Knowledgable 
 Genetic SimilarityTwin and kinship studies Week 17Knowledgable 
 Evolutionary explanations for behaviour Week 18Knowledgable 
The individual and the groupSocial Identity TheorySocial groupsWeek 19Open minded
 Social Cognitive Theory Week 19Open minded
 Formation of stereotypes and their effects on behaviour Week 20Open minded
Cultural origins of behaviour and cognitionCulture and its influence on behaviourcultural groups- characterised by different norms and conventionsWeek 20Open minded
 Cultural dimensionsIndividualism/collectivismWeek 21Open minded
Cultural influencesEnculturationnorms Week 21Open minded
 Acculturationassimilate/assimilation Week 22Open minded
Approaches to researching behaviourQualitative MethodsCase study
Naturalistic observations
Interviews (unstructured, semi structured, focus groups)
Week 23Principled
 Quantitative MethodsExperiments
Field experiments
Quasi experiments
Natural experiments
Correlational research
Week 24Principled
 Research DesignsIndependent Groups Design
Matched Pairs Design
Repeated Measures Design
Week 24Principled
 Drawing ConclusionsCorrelation and causation
Generalization for quantitative research
Transferability for qualitative research
Week 25Principled
Unit / Block of workKey Episodes / QuestionsAdditional detailsLength of time.Learner Attribute(s)
Internal AssessmentPlanning and conducting researchCompletion of the Introduction and Exploration sections of the IAWeek 1-2Inquirer
Option 1: Human RelationshipsFormation of personal relationships Week 3-5open minded
 Role of communication Week 6-7reflective
 Explanations for why relationships change or end Week 8thinkers
Internal AssessmentAnalysing and evaluating researchCompletion of the Analysis and Evaluation sections of the IAWeek 9-10Inquirer
Option 2: Health PsychologyBiopsychosocial model of health and wellbeing Week 11-13Reflective
 Dispositional factors and health beliefs Week 14-15Inquirer
 Risk and protective factors Week 16-17open minded