HL Extension: Animal research

IB Psychology: HL Extension: Animal research

One of the most, if not the most, contentious issues in science is the use of animals in research. Psychologists use animals to gain greater insight into human behaviour and physiology because some research cannot be done with humans. Over the past few decades, we have seen major changes in the way that this research is carried out. In this chapter, we will look at the ethical considerations of animal research as...


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Comments 12

Sarah Healey 22 May 2017 - 07:42

Dear John,

Thanks for your feedback so far - for the HL extensions e.g. Value of animal models in Psychology, how separate should we teach studies for the 1) Genetics 2) Hormones 3) Brain? On looking at this is there any room for overlapping studies e.g. Using a study on animals that looks at hormones and the brain?

John Crane 23 May 2017 - 05:12

Dear Sarah,

A good question. It appears from the guide that students can be asked specific questions about the brain, hormones or genetics. My guess is that if you choose a study of hormones to do a study of the brain, that may not be so well accepted, but so far there is a lack of clarity on this. Since most hormones have some effect on the brain, you are right that there may be overlap, but my guess is that this was not the intention of the guide and it would be up to the exam setters to make that call in the markscheme. I definitely would not risk it in the first year of the curriculum..

Sarah Healey 24 May 2017 - 09:37

Thank you! Yes - I agree, play it safe until we get more clarity.

Kathryn Blaszkiw 9 June 2017 - 14:46

Hi John,

In relation to the HL extension, could it be possible that each SAQ on the HL paper requires knowledge from the extensions? In this case - cutting out two of the HL extensions may mean that students cannot answer two of the SAQs, or do you mean simply cutting back on the material for two of the HL extensions?

Kathryn Blaszkiw 9 June 2017 - 15:04

Hi John

Sorry another question re HL extension: Do you think each of the topics would form discrete questions? So for each of the three topics they can be asked about animal research in three different ways, making a total of 9 potential essay topics? i.e. To what extent can animal research investigating the brain and behavior provide insight into human behaviour?

John Crane 13 June 2017 - 10:24

Dear Kathryn

The extensions are only asked for the essays - so the problem with SAQs is not relevant. And yes, the three questions may be combined with the three topics - so at least 9 topics may be asked.

Kathryn Blaszkiw 15 June 2017 - 11:48

Thank you! That makes more sense now.

Jeanette Richardson 13 July 2017 - 22:26

Dear John,

A couple of questions if you don't mind...

Would you recommend teaching the SL students some of the animal studies too? For example when teaching 'neurotransmission', teaching SL+HL students Martinez and Kesner (animals) and then Antonova study AcH in Alzheimers (humans). Then Malberg (SSRI's in animals) and then Caspi and the 5HTT gene (humans). This way the HL students don't need to learn any additional studies.

Final question - when answering a 'discuss research methods' questions... do twin studies/ adoption studies, and brain imaging techniques like fMRI all count as research methods?
Thank you.

John Crane 25 July 2017 - 16:01

Dear Charlotte, I think that this is a good approach. I also think that leaving animal research out of the SL program would be a misrepresentation of the field of psychology.

Twin studies are correlational studies (or could be experimental), but the "twin" part is simply the sample. It is like "animal research" - this is also not a research method, it is the sample.

For brain imaging, this is a technique used in quasi-experiments or experiments. It is not a research method on its own.

Narges Rahimi 27 July 2017 - 13:07

Dear John, As you mentioned above, HL extensions must be related to each topic in the approach e.g Genetics & Behavior ; Hormones & Behavior; The brain & behavior. Can we use one study for each approach? Could you please recommend studies( animal models) in relation to Hormones? Thank you

John Crane 28 July 2017 - 05:30

Dear Narges, I have already answered this by email. Yes, you have to have examples for each. There are examples in the first chapter (see the ethics page, for example, with a list). There will also soon be lists on the site which link all of the options to the core. This is taking a while as the final curriculum was not even published until March.

Narges Rahimi 6 August 2017 - 03:19

Thank you for your reply and clarification


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