IB Psychology

Themantic Education's resources for the new syllabus, by Travis Dixon.


This introduction is designed to get students ready to comprehend psychology studies. It is a basic introduction, with more depth in research methodology coming in later units.

Welcome to the wonderful world of psychology – the scientific study of human behaviour and mental processes.

The primary purpose of this introductory unit is to get you familiar with the aims of psychology, including the structure of psychological research (studies and theories).

Helpful Resources

  • A unit plan (for teachers) (here)
  • Student workbook (here)
  • Powerpoint (here)
  • Kahoot review (here)
  • Quizlet review (coming soon)
  • Jeopardy review (here)

An Overview

Topic 1.1 – Introduction to Psychology

In this topic we look at comprehending and distinguishing behaviours from cognitive processes. We also look at how psychology differs from other similar subjects, like anthropology and sociology. An introduction to the scientific method is also introduced, along with my example of a drug (Rememberol) that makes for a good basic intro to research methodology.

Topic 1.2 – Psychological Studies

At the heart of the IB Psychology course lie in the studies. These are the evidence that we carefully scrutinize before we can say we “know” anything. As almost every lesson in this course students will be introduced to a new study that demonstrates a relationship between variables and behaviour, it’s important that we take the time to become familiar with what to look for when reading and analyzing studies.

The important distinction between correlation and causation will also be introduced.

Topic 1.3 – Psychological Theories

This is a one-lesson topic that introduces students to psychological theories (and models). As there are a number of theories and models that must be taught in the core, it’s important to know the purpose and aim of a psychological theory, and how it’s different to a model.


A Note For Teachers

A mistake I made for years when teaching IB Psychology was to go too heavy into research methodology and terminology in the opening few lessons. I think it’s important to remember that students don’t have much grounding in the subject and they have little schema upon which to connect the research terminology. Moreover, after the introduction they’re going to be thrust into the fascinating world of criminology, with it’s own plethora of new terms, concepts and ideas. This means they won’t really get a chance to use what they learn about research methodology until later in the course, when they come to study for their IA, for instance. This is why I recommend going easy to methodology in the beginning, and having a more in-depth look at quantitative methods later in the year, right before the IA is tackled.

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