IB Psychology

Resources for the new syllabus

Approaches in IB Psych

I encourage (and provide resources for) the themantic way of teaching (read more here), as opposed to going through the course in a linear way (e.g. starting with the approaches and then moving on to the options). However, for ease of revision purposes, I have linked the material in the linear fashion on these pages as well as by our primary themantic units. Please feel free to leave comments, especially if you have requests for information.

What is an “approach to understanding human behaviour?” (Read more…)


Biological Approach

The biological approach is a term used to describe the focus on biological variables and their relationships with behaviour and mental processes. The requirements for Paper Two (the options) also require you to understand biological variables that influence behaviour, so it’s best to study biological variables that influence the behaviours addressed in the options (e.g. prejudice, relationships, disorders, etc.)

By the end of the IB Psych’ course, it’s hoped that you have an in-depth understanding of how a range of biological variables can influence, and are influenced by, human behaviour an mental processes. These biological variables include bran function and structure, hormones, neurotransmitters and genetics.

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Cognitive Approach

The cognitive approach highlights the “mental processes” or “cognition” aspect of psychology as the scientific study of human behaviour and mental processes. Psychology began as a study of the mind before branching out into the study of behaviour (observable actions). Understanding how people think is an important component in psychology and this is the focus on the cognitive approach.

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Sociocultural Approach

Whereas the biological approach focuses on internal biological variables and their relationship with behaviour and mental processes, the sociocultural approach focuses on external cultural and social variables, such as group membership and cultural values.

As with the other approaches, you’ll need to understand how social and cultural variables relate to behaviours in the options (e.g. disorders, bystanderism, relationships, etc.) This is why we recommend studying theories like Social Identity Theory in relation to the behaviours from the options like prejudice and discrimination, because SIT was actually developed to explain such behaviours.

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Note: Focusing on the individual approaches as a concept throughout the course doesn’t make much sense; it makes more sense just to focus on the individual variables that are affecting particular behaviours you are studying (e.g. violent crime in Criminology). However, when you start preparing for tests and exams, you do want to structure your revision and preparation based on the IB course structure. This is why Themantic Education will be publishing IB Psychology: A student’s revision guide (coming early 2018). We encourage the learning of the course in a themantic way, while revising for the exams in a linear one.

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