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2nd Semester Psychology

Course Objectives:

1.       Encourage the systematic and critical study of human experience and behavior
2.   Develop in the student the capacity to identify, to analyze critically and to evaluate theories, concepts  and arguments about the nature and activities of the individual and society

3.   Develop an awareness in the student that human attitudes and beliefs are widely diverse and that the

       study of society requires an appreciation of such diversity

4.   Enable the student to recognize that the content and methodologies of the study of psychology are

      contestable and that their study requires the toleration of uncertainty.

5.   Develop an awareness of how psychological research can be applied for the benefit of human beings

6.   Ensure that ethical practices are upheld in psychological inquiry

7.   Develop an understanding of the biological, cognitive and socio-cultural influences on human


8.   Develop an understanding of alternative explanations of behavior

9.   Understand and use diverse methods of psychological inquiry.



1.     Respect and/or tolerate diverse opinions

2.     Follow school electronic policy!!!

3.     Communicate with me if you have any concerns or questions!




                Notebook                                                                                 45%

                Class work (including 2 written article evaluations)           13%

                Quizzes, tests and presentations                                              30%

                Participation, Attendance                                                            12%

                                NO extra CREDIT LAST WEEK of QT!


During the second semester we will

1.       finish our Internal Assessment (replicated experiment)
2.       Study Human Relationships as our core topic
3.       Practice IB Psychology exams, short and long answer questions.
4.       Students will be responsible for teaching a class lesson based on one of the other core topics that
we will not cover together as a class this semester.  Abnormal, Developmental, Health and Sports
psychology are the other core topics.  The 5 topic Areas are described below.



Psychology of human relationships


This social psychology option focuses on human relationships; these relationships may be romantic, friendship, familial, or antagonistic. Humans are social animals, but while we depend upon others for our well‑being, conflict with others can threaten our survival individually and as social groups.

Key goals of social psychologists are to understand the complexities of relationships, improve interpersonal relationships, promote social responsibility and reduce violence. Psychologists assume that we may actively change our environment and not simply be manipulated by it.

Violence is defined here as a specific aspect of aggression characterized by victimization of another (for example, bullying, domestic violence, genocide). Though much of the research on aggression may be used to understand the basis of violence, the focus of this part of the option is to apply this research to social problems in which violence is often manifested.

One approach to the study of human relationships concentrates on the role of hormones and genetics. However, this gives a limited understanding of how relationships develop. Cognitive theorists have contributed to the understanding of relationships by applying schema theory, whereas social psychologists have focused on attribution theory, social identity theory and the role of culture.

Studying human relationships, however, has its challenges. It is tempting to oversimplify complex social issues or misdirect the blame for problems. When studying human relationships psychologists must also be concerned about the objectivity of the researcher, the right to privacy of the individual and the temptation of social engineering.

Learning outcomes

General framework (applicable to all topics in the option)


·         To what

·                   - Evaluate psychological research (that is, theories and/or studies) relevant to the study of human relationships.

·         To what extent do biological, cognitive, and socio-cultural factors affect human relationships.

Social responsibility

1.     Distinguish between altruism and pro-social behavior.

2.     Contrast two theories explaining altruism in humans.

3.     Using one or more research studies, explain cross‑cultural differences in pro-social behavior.

4.     Examine factors influencing bystanderism.

Interpersonal relationships

5.     Examine biological, psychological and social origins of attraction.

6.     Discuss the role of communication in maintaining relationships.

7.     Explain the role that culture plays in the formation and maintenance of relationships.

8.     Analyze why relationships may change or end.


9.     Evaluate socio-cultural explanations of the origins of violence.

10.  Discuss the relative effectiveness of two strategies for reducing violence.

11.  Discuss the effects of short‑term and long‑term exposure to violence.


Abnormal psychology


Abnormal psychology focuses on diagnosing, explaining and treating humans suffering from psychological disorders. This option begins with a consideration of normal and abnormal behavior. An understanding of issues related to diagnosis provides a framework for the subsequent study of disorders and therapeutic approaches.

Although there are numerous psychological disorders this option focuses on the following three groups of disorders:

·         anxiety (for example, agoraphobia)

·         affective (for example, depression)

·         eating (for example, bulimia).

By studying one disorder from two of these groups of disorders, students are encouraged to develop an awareness of the range of psychological disorders. This approach embraces the etiology, symptoms and prevalence of each disorder. As a consequence of this understanding, it is possible to administer effective treatments while at the same time having an appreciation of relevant cultural and gender variations.

Therapeutic approaches to treating disorders may be broadly organized into three groups:

·         biomedical therapies (for example, drug therapy)

·         individual psychological therapies (for example, systematic desensitization, cognitive restructuring therapy)

·         group psychological therapies (for example, encounter groups, family therapy, community‑based therapy).

Therapies from each of these approaches involve the use of specific techniques that need to be applied appropriately. These approaches should reflect a considerable degree of efficacy and ethical appropriateness to the specific disorder.

Learning outcomes

General framework (applicable to all topics in the option)

·1         To what extent do biological, cognitive and socio-cultural factors influence abnormal behavior?

·2         Evaluate psychological research (that is, theories and/or studies) relevant to the study of abnormal behavior.

Concepts and diagnosis

·3         Examine the concepts of normality and abnormality.

·4         Discuss validity and reliability of diagnosis.

·5         Discuss cultural and ethical considerations in diagnosis (for example, cultural variation, stigmatization).

Psychological disorders

·6         Describe symptoms and prevalence of one disorder from two of the following groups:

o    anxiety disorders

o    affective disorders

o    eating disorders.

· 7        Analyse etiologies (in terms of biological, cognitive and/or socio-cultural factors) of one disorder from two of the following groups:

o    anxiety disorders

o    affective disorders

o    eating disorders.

·8         Discuss cultural and gender variations in prevalence of disorders.

Implementing treatment

·  9       Examine biomedical, individual and group approaches to treatment.

·10         Evaluate the use of biomedical, individual and group approaches to the treatment of one disorder.

·  11       Discuss the use of eclectic approaches to treatment.

· 12        Discuss the relationship between etiology and therapeutic approach in relation to one disorder.

Developmental psychology


Developmental psychology is the study of how and why people change over time in the way they behave, think, and relate to others. Developmental psychology focuses on developmental themes such as identity, attachment and adolescence.

It is important to gain an understanding of the extent to which early experience may influence later development and if there are critical periods in development. Knowledge about the influence of biological, social and cultural factors in people’s lives is helpful not only for families but also in childcare and education to create good opportunities for children and young people all over the world.

Controversies related to developmental psychology include the extent of the impact of early experiences and why some children seem to be more resilient than others after stressful experiences in childhood. In recent years knowledge about resilience has been used to develop programs that can increase resilience.

Learning outcomes

General framework (applicable to all topics in the option)

·  1       To what extent do biological, cognitive and socio-cultural factors influence human development?

·2         Evaluate psychological research (that is, theories and/or studies) relevant to developmental psychology.

Cognitive development

·  3       Evaluate theories of cognitive development (for example, Piaget, Bruner, Vygotsky, brain development theories).

·   4      Discuss how social and environmental variables (for example, parenting, educational environment, poverty, diet) may affect cognitive development.

Social development

·     5    Examine attachment in childhood and its role in the subsequent formation of relationships.

·    6     Discuss potential effects of deprivation or trauma in childhood on later development.

·  7       Define resilience.

·   8      Discuss strategies to build resilience.

Identity development

·   9      Discuss the formation and development of gender roles.

·   10      Explain cultural variations in gender roles.

·    11     Describe adolescence.

·    12     Discuss the relationship between physical change and development of identity during adolescence.

·   13      Examine psychological research into adolescence (for example, Erikson’s identity crisis, Marcia).

Health psychology


Over the past century the relationship between behavior and individual health has attracted attention because of an increase in diseases caused by personal habits. Health psychology is concerned with how different factors, such as lifestyle and social context, may influence health and illness. One of the goals of health psychology is to promote an understanding of behavior that leads to a healthier lifestyle. The health psychology option focuses on stress, substance abuse, addiction, obesity and health promotion.

Health psychologists have investigated causes of health problems such as stress, substance abuse, addiction, overeating and obesity in order to find ways to counter their damaging consequences and prevent their occurrence. One of the benefits of this research is an improved understanding of the relationship between environmental and biological factors as well as cognition in determining individual behavior. This helps in the development of prevention and treatment strategies, for example, in terms of understanding how people value their health. It also enables health promotion campaigns to be more efficiently designed.

There are differences in attitudes towards health-related behavior among different cultures, as well as variations in the incidence of health problems such as stress, eating disorders and substance abuse. It is important for health psychologists to take these factors into account.

Learning outcomes

General framework (applicable to all topics in the option)

·    1     To what extent do biological, cognitive and socio-cultural factors influence health‑related behavior?

·   2      Evaluate psychological research (that is, theories and/or studies) relevant to health psychology.


·    3     Describe stressors.

·  3a       Discuss physiological, psychological and social aspects of stress.

·   4      Evaluate strategies for coping with stress (for example, stress inoculation therapy, hardiness training, yoga and meditation).

Substance abuse, addictive behavior and obesity

·    5     Explain factors related to the development of substance abuse or addictive behavior.

·   6      Examine prevention strategies and treatments for substance abuse and addictive behavior (for example, Alcoholics Anonymous, family therapy, drugs and biopsychosocial treatments).

·     7    Discuss factors related to overeating and the development of obesity.

·  8       Discuss prevention strategies and treatments for overeating and obesity.

Health promotion

·  9       Examine models and theories of health promotion (for example, health belief model, stages of change model, theory of reasoned action).

·  10       Discuss the effectiveness of health promotion strategies (for example, measurement of outcomes, cultural blindness, cognitive dissonance).

Sport psychology


Sport psychology is the scientific study of the behavior of individuals in sport contexts, including both individual and social aspects of behavior.

Participation in sport is increasingly recognized to be of value in many cultures because of the contribution of sport to health and well‑being. Participation in sport also serves to enhance international cooperation through competitions, thereby acting as a platform for communication and cross‑cultural understanding.

This option addresses cognitive, socio-cultural and biological aspects of sport psychology. The biological level of analysis is used in arousal theories. The cognitive level of analysis is used in the investigation of topics such as goal-setting and motivation. The socio-cultural level of analysis is applied to team cohesion and the motivation of individuals.

Controversies related to areas of sport psychology are the issues of overtraining, burnout, and the way in which individuals and coaches deal with injuries.

Learning outcomes

General framework (applicable to all topics in the option)

·  1       To what extent do biological, cognitive and socio-cultural factors influence behavior in sport?

·  2       Evaluate psychological research (that is, theories and/or studies) relevant to the study of sport psychology.

Emotion and motivation

· 3        Evaluate theories of motivation in sport (for example, cognitive-evaluation theory, achievement goal theory, self‑efficacy theory).

· 4        Using one or more research studies, explain the role of goal‑setting in the motivation of individuals.

· 5        Discuss theories relating arousal and anxiety to performance (for example, optimal arousal theory/inverted U hypothesis, drive theory, reversal theory).

Skill development and performance

·6         Evaluate techniques for skill development used in sport (for example, repetition, mental imagery, attention control/concentration training).

· 7        To what extent does the role of coaches affect individual or team behavior in sport?

· 8        Explain relationships between team cohesion and performance.

· 9        Describe aids and barriers to team cohesion.

Problems in sports

· 10        Discuss athlete response to stress and chronic injury (for example, stress‑based model, grief reaction response, relaxation techniques).

·11         Examine reasons for using drugs in sport.

·12         Discuss effects of drug use in sport.

·13         Compare models of causes and prevention of burnout (for example, cognitive‑affective stress model, negative training stress model, investment model).

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