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7 Interesting Facts about IB Psychology

The IB Diploma Programme Psychology Course is a comprehensive program that covers all aspects of human behavior from basic to advanced levels.

It provides students with an understanding of how people think, feel and behave in order for them to be able to make sound decisions when making important life-changing choices such as choosing a career path or purchasing a home.

IB courses are historically more difficult than their non-IB counterparts, due to the fact that they are designed for a higher level of learning. As such, students must be able to think critically and solve problems in order to pass the course.

The IB Diploma Programme psychology course is the systematic study of behaviour and mental processes. In this article, we'll discuss 7 interesting facts about IB Psychology, the curriculum, and the course load.


1. The Course Curriculum

IB Psychology goes into depth on a number of topic areas, owing to its introductory nature and acclaim as one of the most difficult psychology courses available to pre-University students.

We’ve included a detailed list below that fleshes out some of the more nuanced subjects you’ll find in this course.

i. The biological approach to understanding behaviour

IB Psychology places a strong emphasis on understanding human behavior through the use of scientific methods. This includes studying brain function in humans and animals, as well as examining how people think and behave when under stress or performing tasks that require concentration.

ii. The cognitive approach to understanding behaviour

In contrast to the biological approach, Cognitive Psychology focuses more on analysing what goes on inside our heads than it does on observing behaviour in real-life situations. For example, Cognitive Psychologists tend to study how people process information and make decisions based on their memories, beliefs and other mental processes rather than directly observing them.

iii. The social approach to understanding behaviour

Social psychologists are interested in studying how people interact with each other socially rather than just looking at individual interactions. They look at how people respond to social cues such as body language, facial expressions and tone of voice. Social psychologists also study how people interpret others' intentions and emotions.

iv. The psychodynamic approach to understanding behaviour

The psychodynamic approach is a very interesting one, which assumes that unconscious thoughts have an effect on conscious decisions. In other words, this approach believes that people sometimes act upon subconscious motives of which they themselves are not aware. Psychodynamic psychologists believe the best way to discover these motives is through therapy.

v. The developmental approach to understanding behaviour

Developmental Psychology is one of the main approaches discussed in the course. This approach considers that people never stop changing and that there are specific periods in which certain aspects of human behaviour develop and mature, such as when we learn how to crawl, then walk, then talk, etc. It looks at these periods in terms of stages that everyone goes through in the same order.

vi. The humanistic approach to mental processes

Finally, the humanistic approach considers that people are basically good and that a positive attitude can overcome many challenges and obstacles.


2. Test Taking Tips for IB Psychology

Test taking skills are very important in this class. Students must be able to not just recall information learned, but also apply it to new and difficult situations.

In IB Psychology, you typically practice structured essay writing as well as other types of questions on the examinations, so make sure you familiarize yourself with the syllabus, the course requirements, and what’s expected of you on Test Day.

The most important part about test preparation, regardless of course, is understanding your content inside and out. And the best way to accomplish that is through consistent and arduous practice. Our team has compiled a list of practice problems below to act as a refresher in case you want to test your understanding of elementary IB Psychology concepts.

Q1. Explain one factor that influences conformity.

You can define conformity as the process of shaping one's behaviour or thinking to more effectively line up with that of different individuals or a larger group. There are three primary social processes that are suggested to provide an explanation for conformity, and those are informational influence, normative influence, and informational affect. All of those explanations are, to a large extent, based on the effect of social norms. 

You can think of social norms as organization-held beliefs that describe how members should behave in a specific environment or circumstance. Most sociologists would describe norms as an informal understanding that govern society’s behaviours.

Psychologists, on the other hand, have adopted a more universal definition - in their minds, smaller organization units, like a team or an office, may additionally lead to societal norms separate from or more similar to cultural or societal expectations. As a consequence, organizational norms may be considered a smaller subset of social norms.

The psychological definition emphasises social norms' behavioural basis, and describes how norms have different dimensions: including how the behaviour is exhibited and what sort of the organization approves of that behaviour.

Q2. Define the following terms:

i) abnormality

Abnormality is typically defined as behaviour that does not conform to regular patterns.

ii) Normality

Normality is typically defined as conforming to standard/regular behavioural patterns as implicitly defined by society.

iii) Jahoda's Positive Mental Health Theory

Marie Jahoda (1958) tried to define normality instead of abnormality. She thought it would be easier to identify abnormal behavior as behavior that deviates from the definition of normality, rather than the inverse.

iv) Inter Rater Reliability

A framework for health assessment where multiple practitioners are asked to diagnose the same person using the same diagnostic system in order to smooth out inconsistency or subjectivity.

Q3. Describe Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection

When considering Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection, there are 5 main points to keep in mind:

  1. Overpopulation and scarce resources equal (generally) a struggle to survive.
  2. Variations in individual traits occur often due to mutations and meiosis (e.g. crossing over)
  3. The better adapted that traits are for their environment, the higher chance of survival for the offspring
  4. More successful traits are favored by natural selection
  5. Over time, species find that more successful traits become more prevalent in the population


3. Assigned Readings

Nearly every class, students in IB Psychology will have a specific reading assigned to them. These are fairly short articles that introduce you to new ideas, theories, and concepts that will help in your learning of the material and understanding of landmark studies and experiments. They also help students develop key skills such as comprehension and vocabulary.

To succeed in IB Psychology, it is imperative that you take these assigned readings seriously. Students that diligently perform the readings typically also perform substantially better.


4. Style of Teaching

Some IB psychology modules can include one or more laboratory sessions where students learn how to use psychological techniques in the classroom setting. For example, one of the most important concepts covered in IB Psychology is Research Methods, the study of topics like psychological research techniques, experimental analysis, and ethical guidelines for experimentation.

In IB Psychology, students will learn how to establish proper lab protocols and experiment on human test subjects using different ethically validated methods. Later in the year, students participate in a class where they are trained to perform different experiments on fellow pupils using theories and techniques learned in class.

This type of active learning allows students to remember concepts for longer and have fun while doing it.


5. Future Paths for Students of IB Psychology

Most graduates of IB Psychology continue onto postsecondary education in a similar field. Many students prefer to pursue high-level degrees such as medicine, law, engineering, psychology, and business management.

Because of its highly acclaimed nature, many top universities in the world are known to favor IB Psychology diploma graduates over other applicants due to the extensive nature of the program and the focus on statistical research methods (which are often vied for in post-secondary research positions).


6. Typical Age Cohort

The average age range for students in the course ranges from 14 years old to 18 years old due to different grade requirements for each school system. Because of the advanced nature of IB Psychology, however, it is not uncommon for students in this course to be a little bit older than their non-IB counterparts.


7. Enjoy Yourself and Have a Good Time

Above all else, don’t forget to have fun. IB courses can be difficult and seemingly unrelenting, but they’re also innately interesting and provide a fantastic way to meet and network with other high achievers. Make sure to enjoy yourself, trust the process, and have a good time.

We hope this article helped you in understanding IB Psychology a little more, and wish you the best of luck in your future IB endeavours.

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