IB Psychology 2015 - 2016 Year 2

The International School of Prague


Weekly summaries: May 16 – 31

The last two weeks have been busy ones.  We wrapped up the first year of the course by looking at two final learning outcomes:  the role of evolution on behaviour and the use of brain imagining technology to understand human behaviour.

You should be able to do the following at the end of these two weeks:

  • Explain what is meant by natural selection.
  • Describe research related to evolutionary arguments of human mating behaviour.
  • Explain the limitations of evolutionary arguments.
  • Describe the use of one structural (MRI) and one functional (PET or fMRI) brain imaging technology.
  • Explain both the practical and the methodological limitations of using brain imaging technology.

It is hard to believe that we have already finished our first year together. To keep you interested in modern brain research, here is a final video for the year!



Weekly summary: May 4 – 15


This week we will finally wrap up our interview projects.  Last we also began our study of genetics and intelligence.  Here are some of the key ideas that you should have taken away from this week and a preview of what to expect this week:

  • Psychologists at the BLOA believe that some behaviours are inherited.
  • Genetics are studied through the use of correlational studies. In these studies, data is gathered through interviews, psychometric testing (e.g. IQ tests) archival research or observational study in order to establish whether there is a relationship between two variables.  No cause and effect can be established.  It is unknown whether A influences B, B influences A, whether they both influence each other, or whether there is no influence of one on the other at all.
  • Psychologists use twin and adoption studies to determine the strength of the correlation between genetics and behaviour.  This is known as the concordance rate.
  • Many twin studies rely on self-reported data.  Others are based on archival data, which means that the research is retrospective.  Attempting to do prospective research may result in self-fulfilling prophecies – a rather serious confounding variable!
  • Psychologists believe in the Diathesis-Stress Model.  This argues that people have a genetic vulnerability to certain behaviours, but without the right environmental stressor, the gene is not expressed. This is not only about mental illness.  Theoretically, if you have the genetic potential for intelligence, but you are deprived by your environment of stimulation and appropriate education, that gene may not be expressed.


Weekly summary: April 27 – 30

This week we looked further into the role of stress on health.  You should be able to do the following at the end of this week:

  • Explain Sapolsky’s research on the influence of social hierarchies on health.
  • Outline the Whitehall study.  What are its key findings?  What is meant that participants were matched for health-related variables?
  • What is the difference between a retrospective and a prospective study?  What are the disadvantages of each type of study?
  • What is the link between stress and heart disease?
  • What is the link between stress and memory? (Meaney)
  • What is the link between stress and aging?

For those of you who would like to rewatch the documentary, you can see it below.


Weekly summary: April 2 – 4


This week we wrapped up emotion and the Cognitive Level of Analysis.  Please make sure that you are able to discuss these three pieces of research:

  • Speismann on the role of cognitive appraisal on physiological response.
  • Singer & Schacter’s Two Factor Theory and their famous study.
  • LeDoux’s model of the fear response.

We also began the BLOA by looking at the principles that define the level of analysis. We looked at three:

  • Animals may be studied in order to understand human behaviour.
  • There are biological correlates to human behaviour – that is, neurotransmitters, hormones, genes and the brain.
  • Behaviour can be inherited.

Finally, we began discussing stress.  At the end of this week you should be able to:

  • Define the four types of stress.
  • Discuss the role of physiology and cognition on stress.
  • Discuss the role of dispositional factors (personality) on stress.  (Think about Sapolsky’s video).
  • Describe Selye’s General Adaptation Syndrome.



Weekly summary: March 30 – April 3

This week we looked the origins of emotion. At the end of this week you should be able to talk about the following concepts:

  • Emotions may have an evolutionary advantage for humans.
  • Facial expressions may be universal, showing us that there are biological roots for basic emotions.
  • In spite of Ekman’s research, there are cultural factors that can affect emotional responses.
  • Cognitive labeling is one of the key theories of emotions, as seen in the study by Speisman.
  • You should also be able to describe Schachter & Singer’s study – and also be able to discuss its ethical and procedural issues.

When we get back, we have only two studies to look at: Schachter & Singer’s study of the Two Factor Theory and then LeDoux’s explanation of how the brain explains what is happening – and a study by Susan Fiske.

The remainder of our semester will be spent on the Biological Level of Analysis and we will practice our final research method – the interview.




Weekly summary: March 23 – 26

PA photo 15.1.13 romanian orphans

This week we wrapped up memory by looking at how sociocultural factors can affect memory.  For this learning objective you should be able to:

  • Explain how cultural schema have an effect on memory (Bartlett).
  • Explain how schooling can have an effect on memory (Cole & Scribner)
  • Describe how Cole & Scribner used an emic approach.
  • Explain the role of stress of memory (Meany; Rutter’s orphan study)

Now we just have to discuss those things called emotions – and then it is stress until the end of the year….



The Nun Study

Here is the video that explains the study that you are reading for homework.


Weekly summary: March 16 – 20

This week we focused on the role of biological factors on memory. We specifically looked at the following examples:

  • Case studies and the role of the hippocampus & amygdala: Milner’s study of HM, Sharot’s study of Flashbulb memory.
  • The role of acetylcholine on the creation of long-term memories (Martinez & Kesner)
  • The role of glucocorticoids in memory impairment (Meany; Newcomer)

Thank you all for keeping focused while I was away.  I hope that this week we will be able to wrap up our study of memory and then move on to our next unit – Stress!


Weekly summary: March 2 – 6

This week we examined the effect of emotion on memory – looking at research on reconstructive memory and the question of the reliability of so-called “Flashbulb Memories.” From this week, you should know  the following research:

Support for the reliability of memory:

  • Brown & Kulik’s original study.
  • Yuille & Cutshall’s Vancouver robbery study
  • Bahrick et al’s yearbook study

Support that memory is not reliable:

  • Bartlett’s War of Ghosts study.
  • Neisser’s study of the Challenger disaster
  • Crombag’s study of the KLM disaster
  • Loftus’s studies on reconstructive memory (post-event interference)

Please watch the video clip below.  This is the famous “Lost in the Mall Study” done by Elizabeth Loftus.

Next week we will wrap up Flashbulb memory by seeing if there is any biological evidence to support it.  Yes, biology is in your near future!


Weekly summary: February 23 – 27


  • This week we returned to discuss our final memory model for this year – the Working Memory Model (Baddely & Hitch, 1974).  At this point, you should know the key components of the model: the central executive, the episodic buffer, the phonological loop and the visuospatial sketchpad. For a more in-depth explanation, here is a rather dry – but helpful – tutorial

Skip to toolbar