IB Psychology

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


In this unit students are introduced to a range of possible variables that may influence criminal behaviour, including genetics, hormones, brain dysfunction, cognitive impairment, social learning and cultural values.

This unit is covered in our textbook, IB Psychology: A Student’s Guide

It basically hits all the same topics as the biological approach, but also offers introductions to other topics in other parts of the course (e.g. cultural influences, thinking and decision making).

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Criminology Overview

Criminology Overview
With the themantic approach you could cover all these topics (in yellow) comfortably in less than 30 hours.

Criminology Chapter Preview

Introduction (read more…)

2.1 The Brain and Behaviour

How might brain damage affect our behaviour?

  • The Frontal Lobe
  • The Prefrontal Cortex and Aggression

2.2 The Brain and Cognition

How might brain damage affect the way we think?

  • Judgement, Processing and Decision Making
  • The Dual Process Model of Decision Making
  • PFC Damage and Decision Making
  • Processing and Decision Making while Gambling

2.3 The Brain and Emotion

How might our brain affect our experience of emotion?

  • Fear and the Amygdala
  • SM: The Woman with No Fear
  • The Amygdala and the Fear Response

2.4 Hormones and Behaviour

Why are men more aggressive than women?

  • Testosterone and Aggression
  • Aggression: An Evolutionary Adaptation
  • Testosterone and Social Threat Part I
  • Testosterone and Social Threat Part II

2.5 Culture and Biology

How can culture affect testosterone levels?

  • Cultural Values: Culture of Honor
  • Cultural Values and Testosterone

2.6 Neurotransmission

Can chemicals in our brain cause violent crime?

  • Neurotransmission
  • Serotonin, Threat and the Prefrontal Cortex

2.7 Neuroplasticity

How can the way we think affect our brain?

  • Environment and Brain Development
  • Childhood and Brain Development
  • Meditation and Mindfulness
  • Mindfulness and Emotion

2.8 Genetics and Behaviour

Are people born violent?

  • Twin and Adoption Studies
  • The MAOA “Warrior” Gene

2.9 Social Cognitive Theory

How can nature affect nurture, and vice-versa?

  • Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory
  • Vicarious Learning and the Bobo Doll

2.10 Technology

How do researchers use technology to study the brain and behaviour?

  • MRI
  • fMRI


The following resources are for my current students and do not reflect the content of the new text; those resources will be updated shortly. See the preview contents for an idea of what’s in the Criminology chapter.

The Criminal Brain

An Introduction to the Criminal Brain (Link #1Link #2 – APA)

  1. Neurotransmission
    1. The Process of Neurotransmission (Link)
    2. Neurotransmission and Behaviour (Link)
      1. Serotonin and Violence (Link)
        1. Key Study: Passamonti et al (Link)
  2. Brain Function
    1. An Introduction to Brain Function (Link)
      1. Localization of Brain Function (Link)
    2.  The Frontal Lobe and the Prefrontal Cortex (Link)
      1. Brain Structure of Murderers (Link)
      2. Key study: Graftman et al (1996): Brain Damage and Aggression (Link)
    3.  Moral Judgement and the Prefrontal Cortex (Link)
      1. Key Study: Morality, Decision Making and the Prefrontal Cortex (Link)
    4. The Amygdala (link)
  3. Hormones
    1. An Introduction (Link)
      1. Testosterone
        1. Key Study: Goetz et al: Testosterone, Amygdala and Aggresison (Link)
  1. Genetics
    1. Key Study: Fear Conditioning (Raine)
  1. Learned Behaviour
    • Social Learning Theory (Bandura) (Link)
  2. Exposure to weapons
  3. Poverty and socioeconomic status


  • How can we reduce violent crime in society?
    • What should we do with violent criminals? (video)
    • Reevaluating the traditional prison system
    • Restorative Justice
    • Yoga? (Link)
    • Neuroplasticity
      • Enriching the environments of children
    • Breaking the cycle

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