Developmental 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.

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 approaches to research in determining the effect of childhood trauma on later development.


  • Biological, cognitive and sociocultural factors in human development.
  • Approaches to research in developmental psychology
  • Ethical considerations in developmental psychology

Developing as a learner

  • Theories of cognitive development (two)
  • Brain development

Influences on cognitive and social development

  • Role of peers in cognitive and social development
  • Role of play in cognitive and social development
  • Role of childhood trauma in cognitive and social development
  • Resilience (biological, cognitive and sociocultural factors)
  • Effects of poverty/socioeconomic factors on cognitive and social development

Developing an identity

  • Attachment
  • Gender identity (biological, cognitive and sociocultural factors)
  • Social roles (gender roles) (biological, cognitive and sociocultural factors)
  • Development of empathy and theory of mind
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    Comments 3

    Nanette Nygårds 25 January 2018 - 13:26

    Hello John,

    Great site, very helpful thanks!

    I was wondering what you would think about using Dweck's Growth Mindset Theory for the section 'developing as a learner'? It certainly ties into 'cognitive & brain development' and could be linked to f ex neuroplasticity and the topic of resilience (or must resiliance be linked to childhood trauma specifically? Or will the examiners be expecting theories on specifically age related development, since the syllabus states that " is important to gain an understanding of the extent to which early experience may influence later development and if there are critical periods in development."

    John Crane 25 January 2018 - 19:43

    Dear Nanette

    As for as I understand, Mindest theory is not a developmental theory. I am not sure that the IB would credit that for a cognitive theory. I would be careful with this one.

    Nanette Nygårds 26 January 2018 - 06:36

    OK I thought it might, thank you!