Paper 2 clarifications

There have been several clarifications given by the IB over the past year.  Many have said that these clarifications are difficult to follow.  I am organizing these clarifications below, based on the relevant aspects of the curriculum. These clarifications are from the assessment clarification (June 27, 2018), the FAQ document (June 2018) and clarifications sent to all workshop leaders (Sept 19, 2018). The most recent update is the updated version of the guide, released on December 16, 2019.

This page shows where we are with clarifications as of January 1, 2020. This page will continue to be updated as further clarifications are made available.

Assessment clarifications

The following questions are often asked about Paper 2.  We have received the clarifications below.  For specifics about how questions are set, please see the " Assessment clarifications" page.

1. Are theories also considered" research?

This is a change in assessment practice.  Research now means only "studies."  Theory is considered part of Criterion B - knowledge and understanding which is assessed separately from "use of research."

2.  May students use older research?

Teachers need to make the judgment call about the use of older studies.  Studies such as Bartlett and Ebbinghaus may be seen as still valid.  However, other older studies may be considered too old to be of value.  No further guidance is given on this.  My own experience is that universities tend to have limits on the age of studies.  Many would not accept research from the 19th century accept for historical context. I would recommend sticking to research from 1960 to the present.

3.  How many studies are required?

With regard to how much research is necessary in an SAQ or ERQ, the response is still a bit unclear.  All responses require research. Therefore, all SAQs will require a study. The clarification reads:

As Psychology is evidence-based, it is expected that students will use their knowledge of research to support their argument. There is no prescription as to which or how many pieces of research are appropriate for their response. As such it is important that the research selected is relevant, appropriate and useful in supporting the argument they are making. One piece of research that is clearly relevant, appropriate and used well is better than several pieces that repeat the same point over and over.

Paper 2 clarifications

The most important clarification regards the use of "and".  There are several places in the guide where "and" is used. The IB has sent a clarification that in most cases "and" will be "and/or" and the terms will not be separated on paper 2. There are, however, some exceptions to that rule.

Content using "and" that may be separated

In health psychology: dispositional factors and health beliefs

In development:  Childhood trauma and resilience

In development: Gender identity and social roles

Content using "and" that may not be separated

Abnormal: Validity and/or reliability
Development: Influences on cognitive and/or social development; role of peers and/or play; development of empathy and/or theory of mind
Health: Risk and/or protective factors
Relationships: Cooperation and/or competition; prejudice and/or discrimination; origins of conflict and/or conflict resolution.

Please note that they could ask a question such as "Discuss risk and protective factors in health behaviour."  Then the expectation would be that students address both.  But it may be asked as "and/or". The IB would never choose only one of the two terms in the question.

Ethics, research methods and approaches

Research methods and ethics will be assessed as part of the options. The guide states: “In addition, the options provide the opportunity to explore the different approaches taken in research and highlight ethical considerations and sensitivities pertinent to a specific line of inquiry”. This will only be asked at the topic level.  A valid question would be "Discuss research methods used in the study of factors that influence diagnosis."  Please note that "Discuss research methods used in the study of the validity and reliability of diagnosis" can not be asked.

Paper 2 may combine approaches with the topic, not with the content points.  A valid question would be "Discuss sociocultural factors that may affect diagnosis."  It is not a valid question to ask "Discuss biological factors in the reliability and validity of diagnosis."

Specific content clarifications

How do we define gender identity?  Is this the same as gender role?

No, it is not the same as gender role. Gender identity is defined as "a person's internal sense of being male, female, some combination of male and female, or neither male nor female." Another definition is, "A person's perception of having a particular gender, which may or may not correspond with their birth sex."

What is meant by "social roles?"

Social roles are the expectations, responsibilities, and behaviours that people take on for themselves in different social situations, for example, father, employee, son, friend, husband, neighbour, colleague.

How many health promotion strategies/programs should be studied?

As contrast is a viable command term, a minimum of two.

Some terms seem to be synonymous.  Here are the clarifications:

Empathy and theory of mind are not considered the same thing.

Co-operation and pro-social behaviour are not the same. Co-operation requires people to work together, ie simultaneously helping each other. Pro-social behaviour requires one person to help another person. As a result, using prosocial behaviour to answer a question about cooperation would not be appropriate.

Discrimination is a separate content point from conflict.  It will not be considered a valid response to use discrimination as an example of conflict.

Competition is not the same as conflict. Competition does not necessarily have to have conflict.  The research may not be used interchangeably.

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