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 well...


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Comments 16

Sarah Healey 22 April 2017 - 09:03

Hi John,

Thank you for your work on these resources so far, really helpful in planning for the new curriculum. I am looking at how you have organised the HL extensions. Do we know whether the HL extensions must be related to each topic in the approach? E.g. The value of animal models in psychology research in relation to 1) Genetics & Behavior 2) Hormones & Behavior 3) The brain & behavior. The guide reads that for all three topics in the biological approach, and with reference to research studies, HL should study the following. I think this will take much longer than the 10 hours per approach suggested for the HL extensions. I understand that some of the new curriculum still remains unclear so if you are able to shed any light on this, that would be helpful!

John Crane 24 April 2017 - 12:21

Dear Sarah - that is what it says in the guide, and I have had it clarified. I agree that it will take much longer than 10 hours to accomplish this. I have a hunch that many of us will only teach one of the extensions so that students are ready for that section of the exam. The one for sociocultural appears to be even bigger than this one.

Matthew Coughlin 16 May 2017 - 04:28

Hi John,
When you say a hunch that many 'will only teach one of the extensions' do you mean one of Biological, Cognitive or Socio-cultural approach or one of the three from within each of the extensions e.g. whether animal research can provide insight into human behaviour? The guide states that one or all of the questions in Section B Paper 1 could be mace up of HL extensions, is the theory that only teaching one of the approaches extension leave the students prepared to answer at least one question in section B?

John Crane 16 May 2017 - 11:58

Dear Matthew - students only have to answer one of the three essays on Paper 1. That is the same now. So, many students prepare one of the three levels of analysis in depth for the exam and only prepare the SAQs for the other two. In this way, they minimize the amount of stress for exam day. Stronger students may prepare 2 of the three. In addition, the essay questions for HL may be from the core or the extensions. I could see teaching only one of the extensions and having students then prepare one of the other levels of analysis (approaches) also for the exam. I am still trying to decide what I will do with my own students. The extensions feel much bigger than 30 extra hours all together.

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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