Writing samples: Relationships

The following section includes annotated samples of responses to exam questions - as well as strategies for answering questions based on the command terms. The responses are not from the IB.  They are based on work done in-class by students, or they are created specifically for the site. Often the sample is designed to provide examples of common mistakes or in order to show something that should be done for higher marks. 

There is no definitive list of questions for this curriculum - so the list of potential questions below is not exhaustive.  However, I do believe that most of the questions will fall within the list that has been provided below. Remember that there are no SAQs on Paper 2.

For the ERQ responses, students will need to include two or more pieces of research.

Potential exam questions: Social responsibility

All of these learning outcomes are written as "discuss" questions, but they could also be asked as contrast, evaluate and to what extent questions.

Combining topic and guidance

  • Discuss a biological approach to understanding social responsibility.
  • Discuss a cognitive approach to understanding social responsibility.
  • Discuss a sociocultural approach to understanding social responsibility.
  • Discuss ethical considerations in the study of social responsibility.
  • Discuss approaches to research used to study social responsibility.

Content only

  • Discuss theories of bystanderism.
  • Discuss research on prosocial behaviour.
  • Discuss one strategy for the promotion of prosocial behaviour.

Potential exam questions: Interpersonal relationships

All of these learning outcomes are written as "discuss" questions, but they could also be asked as contrast, evaluate and to what extent questions.

Combining topic and guidance

  • Discuss a biological approach to understanding interpersonal relationships.
  • Discuss a cognitive approach to understanding interpersonal relationships.
  • Discuss a sociocultural approach to understanding interpersonal relationships.
  • Discuss ethical considerations in the study of interpersonal relationships.
  • Discuss approaches to research used to study interpersonal relationships.

Content only

  • Discuss the formation of personal relationships.
  • Discuss the role of communication in relationships.
  • Discuss why relationships change or end.

Potential exam questions: Group dynamics

All of these learning outcomes are written as "discuss" questions, but they could also be asked as contrast, evaluate and to what extent questions.

Combining topic and guidance

  • Discuss a biological approach to understanding group dynamics.
  • Discuss a cognitive approach to understanding group dynamics.
  • Discuss a sociocultural approach to understanding group dynamics.
  • Discuss ethical considerations in the study of group dynamics.
  • Discuss approaches to research used to study group dynamics.

Content only

  • Discuss research on cooperation.
  • Discuss one theory of competition.
  • Discuss two theories of the origin of prejudice.
  • Discuss discrimination.
  • Discuss the origin of conflict.
  • Discuss one strategy of conflict resolution.
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Comments 28

Ian Latham 23 April 2018 - 12:25

Would you use 'Contrast biological and cognitive approaches to understanding interpersonal relationships' to test students' understanding? Or is it too broad/unlikely? Thanks.

John Crane 23 April 2018 - 20:24

Ian,

I think that this is unlikely as it is very broad and would be difficult for students to do with only two studies in the essay. But that doesn't mean that it couldn't happen. My experience is that they tend to use "contrast" very rarely as it leads to rather poor quality essays that do not allow students to really show their understanding.

Ian Latham 24 April 2018 - 06:57

Thanks!

Ian Latham 2 May 2018 - 12:39

Above you list "Discuss a sociocultural approach to understanding interpersonal relationships" as a possible question. In the old curriculum, your materials included cultural differences in relationships (expectations, role of communication, etc) but this does not appear in the materials for the new curriculum - is this because it will be added later or because you think we no longer need to cover this? (After all, not everything fits!)

I'm asking as I've just finished classes discussing attribution, the 4 Horsemen and accommodation and so would naturally move on to cultural differences if this were still relevant...

Thanks!

John Crane 3 May 2018 - 05:22

Dear Ian

This is no longer part of the new curriculum. It was also a question that was very difficult to assess in the current curriculum - that may be why it is not in the curriculum. Assuming that there was that much thinking that went into the planning of the options!

Tripti Rathore 25 May 2018 - 06:51

Dear John,
Can the students use sociocultural explanation of violence for the following question:
"To what extent do sociocultural factors influence human relationships?

John Crane 26 May 2018 - 05:34

Dear Tripti

I am not sure why they would. It is no longer part of the curriculum. I guess if that question is stated, it could be used. But note that it is not "human relationships" it is "interpersonal relationships." So, if a student did this they would have to direct address domestic violence or some other interpersonal violence - and not just violent behaviour in general - e.g. criminal behaviour.

Tripti Rathore 27 May 2018 - 05:57

Alright thanks a ton. Then which other theories they can use with this question.

John Crane 28 May 2018 - 04:39

Tripti

The content that is listed in the second column in the guide - formation, communication and dissolution of relationships.

Tripti Rathore 28 May 2018 - 17:26

thanks a ton

Tripti Rathore 28 May 2018 - 17:29

This question was there in this years paper 2. My students were asking me that's why I am confirming. Some of them have linked cross cultural differences in pro-social behaviour with this

John Crane 29 May 2018 - 04:48

Ah - sorry, Tripti. My head is completely in the new curriculum now. Yes, they could write about violence. And cross-cultural differences in pro-social behaviour would also work.

Gisou Ravanbaksh 20 August 2018 - 17:55

Hi John, wondering how much of all three approaches students should bring into their essays on the Options. If the question states "Discuss a biological approach to understanding interpersonal relationships," should they only focus on the biological approach when writing their response or weave in some elements of the Cognitive and Socio-Cultural approaches as well? What is the question asks "To what extent can the biological approach explain the origins of interpersonal relationships." I imagine this one would require bringing in the other two approaches to present a balanced view. Any advice on this?

John Crane 21 August 2018 - 05:45

Dear Gisou

Agreed. In a discuss question, only focus on the approach that is in the question. If it is "to what extent," students may include other approaches, but do not have to. For example, in discussing genetics, the role of the environment could be discussed without having to address another approach.

Liz Cyriac 28 August 2018 - 06:11

Hi John, I'm preparing some notes on Social Responsibility and was wondering if you can give me some clarity.

For the biological approach I have chosen to teach Kin Selection Theory and Reciprocal Altruism Model.

My confusion is related to the other two approaches. Would Empathy Altruism Hypothesis and Negative State Relief Model come under cognitive approaches or sociocultural? If it is cognitive, would studies such as those by Whiting and Whiting (1975) and Levine et al (2001) be examples for research that can be included for the sociocultural approach under the subtopic of culture and prosocial behaviour?

Sorry for the long post. Thanks so much!

John Crane 28 August 2018 - 07:59

Dear Liz

I would use the first two as cognitive and the latter two as sociocultural. SIT would also be a sociocultural factor.

Liz Cyriac 10 September 2018 - 07:45

Thanks John, one more quick question- Can students also use Whiting and Whiting and Levine for "Discuss research on prosocial behaviour."? Thank you.

John Crane 11 September 2018 - 04:53

Dear Liz

Yes, that would be fine.

Emma Parker 25 September 2018 - 01:40

Dear John,
Do you think that they could create a question asking students to 'Contrast ...[research] into cooperation and conflict'? Given that they are kind of the opposite of each other would this question make sense?
Thanks, Emma

Emma Parker 25 September 2018 - 01:45

Also, what if we got asked to discuss one theory of cooperation? Could you use RGCT as it does talk about how cooperation can lead to reduced conflict?

Gisou Ravanbaksh 25 September 2018 - 13:22

Dear John, my understanding from the August clarification document is that for 2019 exams, topic and guidance columns won’t be combined to formulate questions. Is this correct? If so, most of the sample questions you have here wouldn’t be asked. Any thoughts on what other questions might be generated from the topic and content columns?

Gisou Ravanbaksh 25 September 2018 - 14:44

Sorry, just learned that topic and guidance not being combined only applies to Paper 1 :(

John Crane 26 September 2018 - 05:26

Dear Emma

I don't think that there will be a contrast question of that type. I think that it would lack clarity for students and it would be difficult to answer. As for your second question, yes, they could get asked to discuss one theory of cooperation. I am not sure what you mean by RGCT....

John Crane 26 September 2018 - 05:26

Dear Gisou,

That's ok. It has all been rather confusing....

Emma Parker 27 September 2018 - 01:47

Hi John
RGCT- realistic group conflict theory. It explains how competition leads to conflict, but then the last part of the theory states that cooperation towards a supraordinate goal can reduce conflict. So do you think it could be used as a cooperation theory, even though it mostly focuses on competition?

John Crane 27 September 2018 - 05:00

Dear Emma

Sorry. Yes, that would be appropriate.

Paul Doran 2 October 2018 - 04:32

Hi John,
I'm looking at the evolution and hormones. In the question "Discuss a biological approach to understanding interpersonal relationships" is one expected or could the students frame it as both being part of the biological approach?

John Crane 3 October 2018 - 05:05

Dear Paul, yes. That is what they would expect students to do.