Abnormal psych

The options are a chance for the students to apply their understanding of concepts from the core of the course.  SL candidates must study one option; HL candidates must study two. 

Each option has three "topics."  The exam will give them three questions to choose from - they will choose one to write a well-developed essay in one hour.  Each question comes from one of the three topics.  There may not be two questions from the same topic.

The abnormal option requires that students study one disorder - either a depressive, anxiety, stress and trauma, obsessive-compulsive or eating disorder.

This section contains activities and curriculum tips, teaching ideas, revision strategies, key studies and writing samples for different ERQs.

Learning objectives

The curriculum does not have clearly defined learning objectives, but the questions are set by using the first two columns of the grid in the curriculum guide.  Remember that the general questions can be combined with the questions below.  For example, Discuss ethical considerations in the study of the treatment of disorders.


  • Approaches to research in abnormal psychology
  • Ethical considerations in abnormal psychology

Factors influencing diagnosis

  • Normality vs abnormality
  • Classification systems
  • Clinical biases in diagnosis (Candidates should know two examples).
  • Validity and reliability of diagnosis.

Explanations (etiologies) of disorders

  • Biological, cognitive and sociocultural explanations of one disorder.
  • Prevalence rates and disorders

Treatment of disorders

  • Biological and psychological treatments for one disorder.
  • Effectiveness of treatments
  • The role of culture in treatment.
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