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.
All materials on this website are for the exclusive use of teachers and students at subscribing schools for the period of their subscription. Any unauthorised copying or posting of materials on other websites is an infringement of our copyright and could result in your account being blocked and legal action being taken against you.

Comments 15

Tripti Rathore 5 July 2018 - 07:20

Dear John,
Is it that the three questions in Abnormal Psychology would come from Factors influencing diagnosis, Etiologies and Treatment of disorders.

Tripti Rathore 5 July 2018 - 07:21

They can never ask two questions from the same topics

John Crane 11 July 2018 - 17:15

Yes, Tripti, that is correct.

Suzanne McKay 24 July 2018 - 21:13

My apologies, John. The answer to my AB question was here all along.

Laura Anderson-Rice 20 August 2018 - 16:00

Hi John,

I hope you had a great summer although it looks like you have been very busy on here!

I couldn't have coped last year so i'm so happy to have this resource for year 2. Can i ask which options you intend to teach? I think i've read before that you teach a section from abnormal (the etiologies i think?), a section from health and a further section from relationships. Have i got that correct? In which order do you plan on delivering these areas?

Thanks as always,

John Crane 21 August 2018 - 05:29

Dear Laura - yes, that is correct. I am starting with Health: Stress because I can use stress to then study depression. We will spend some time studying diagnosis, but not with the goal of assessment on the exam. We will then do etiologies of depression (abnormal) and a bit of therpay. Then obesity (health). I am doing this to review over and over the three approaches. Also, stress is practical for so many things, but not for the "prevalence" aspect of the abnormal option. Then we will finish with interpersonal relationships (formation, communication and why they fall apart).

Laura Anderson-Rice 22 August 2018 - 08:27

Great, thank you. Do you teach all three sections to all students or are any just for HL? Or do you teach all 3 and allow them to choose the 1 (SL) or 2 (HL) options which they are most comfortable with?


John Crane 23 August 2018 - 05:12

The latter. I make them all study stress and then they may choose either to do the obesity or the interpersonal relationships unit.

Sara Dean 30 August 2018 - 17:18

Hi John,
Ok, so since they will be asking one question from each topic, I could technically teach etiology and treatment of depression and be ok? I like your idea about stress, etiology and interpersonal relationships. However, I have never taught human relationships. Will there be lessons for it for this year? Or if I create lessons based on the text, would that be sufficient information?

THANK YOU for everything.

John Crane 31 August 2018 - 05:31

Dear Sara - yes to all those questions. I will hopefully have all relationships units up by the end of the calendar year. Now that I have some health lessons up and Laura is doing the developmental unit, I will focus on abnormal before switching to relationships.

Sara Dean 31 August 2018 - 08:00

Excellent, thanks so much!

Sara Dean 2 September 2018 - 11:31

Hi John,
Another new syllabus question. With the new clarifications that just came out, I wasn't sure if they will still be asking one question from each topic for each option? So I can still do a mix and match? I am getting so confused with the changes/clarifications.

Thanks again!


John Crane 2 September 2018 - 15:44

This is still the same. There is nothing in the document that says this is changing.

Steven Morris 4 September 2018 - 13:55

Hi John,
Hope you enjoyed your Summer. Just a quick one, I cannot find the new clarifications mentioned above anywhere on MyIB. Could you possibly send a link to them?
Thanks as always,

John Crane 5 September 2018 - 06:25

Dear Steve,

Are you on the Facebook page? It is posted there. If you go to MY IB it is in the discussion section. I do not have a copy here as I am traveling with students all week.