IB Psychology: Pheromones

A rather controversial area of psychological research is the role of pheromones on human behaviour. A pheromone is a chemical substance produced and released into the environment by an animal affecting the behaviour or physiology of others of its own species. Although pheromones are known to play a significant role in signaling between members of the same species among animals to affect various behaviours, it is not...

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Comments 12

Hana Majzoub 22 October 2017 - 17:33

Hi John,
I'm a bit confused about the new curriculum,in particular about this topic which is on pheromones. Thus, I need to ask you a few questions:Is it common for both SL & HL students? Is this topic a unit on its own or is it related to the unit on hormones? Thanks in advance!

Gareth Jennings 24 October 2017 - 03:29

This is for both HL and SL and is separate from hormones

Hana Majzoub 24 October 2017 - 11:24

Thanks for your reply!

John Crane 29 October 2017 - 16:43

Dear Hana

Sorry, I was away last week. Thank you, Gareth, for answering the question! Yes, all content for Paper 1 is the same for SL and HL, except for the HL extensions. Students need to be able to write an SAQ or an essay for all content on the exam. For the HL extensions, the content may only be assessed in essay style on part b of the exam.

Zorica Zarkovic 11 November 2017 - 11:59

Dear John

Is it possible to use Wedekind's and related research on the MHC in animals for this? I have seen that the new Pearson text uses it.

John Crane 13 November 2017 - 04:59

Yes, it is possible, but knowing that it is not a pheromone in humans.

Zorica Zarkovic 14 November 2017 - 15:21

Thank you, John!

Jennifer Tsai Bove 30 April 2018 - 06:00

Hi John, In the guidance section of the course guide it states that arguments for or against the influence of pheromones on human behaviour using one or more examples. I am a bit confused as to what examples they are looking for. Are the examples referring to a specific pheromone or human behaviour? From what I have seen there is currently only inconclusive evidence to suggest they exist, so how would one give an example? Do we refer to AND and EST or the combination of MHC as examples?

John Crane 1 May 2018 - 07:59


I think that any of these examples is appropriate. I am also confused as to how a student writes about "two sides" of an argument when there is no support for the idea that there are pheromones. I will be planning out that lesson in two weeks - and hopefully I will be able to post a lesson plan that makes sense!

Jennifer Tsai Bove 7 May 2018 - 13:31

Thanks John that would be great!

RWA Psychology1 5 June 2018 - 07:59

Dear John,
My question is about judging the size of a sample as 'large' or small', while evaluating research. Are there specific numbers/range to indicate this accurately? For example in the Zhou et al study, 96 participants in the sample has been deemed as a 'small' sample.
Thanks ever so much!

John Crane 5 June 2018 - 09:44

Dear Renu

It is not an easy call. Remember there were 96 participants, but they were in four groups. So, each group is only about 24 people. That is relatively small.

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