Paper 3 Practice: Smartphones and Sleep Quality

Travis DixonAssessment (IB), Health Psychology, Revision and Exam Preparation

As smartphone use has increased, so have sleep problems. This study investigates this link.

The best way to prepare for Paper 3 is to do lots of practice. The study below is designed to replicate what you will see on Paper 3. 

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IB Psychology HL Paper 3 Practice

The stimulus material below is based on a study about the relationship between sleep, smartphones and health.

Nearly everyone has a smartphone these days and the amount they are impacting our health is becoming a common field of study. One thing they might affect is our sleep quality. In 2019, Wang et al. conducted a study to see if there was a relationship between sleep quality, smartphone dependence and health-related behaviours.

Participants were 409 female students at a junior college in Taiwan (average age 17.5 years old). One reason females were chosen for this study is that previous research has shown that they are more vulnerable to experiencing smartphone dependence and poor sleep quality compared to men.

A research assistant explained the aims of the study before obtaining informed written consent from the participants. The study was approved by the National Cheng Kung University Human Research Ethics Committee and the participants were told they had the right to withdraw at any time.

The researchers gathered their participants by using student information collected from the school’s database.* They asked specific participants if they wanted to be in the study if they matched the following criteria: (a) owned a smartphone for more than six months, (b) did not work at night, (c) had no mental illness, (d) could communicate in Mandarin or Minnan dialect and (e) had no kids.

The participants filled out structured questionnaires so the researchers could gather data. The questionnaire had four parts:

  • Gathering basic data like age, body mass index, health habits like sleeping, smoking, drinking and hours of smartphone use.
  • Sleep quality was assessed.
  • Smartphone dependence was assessed.
  • Health-related behaviours were assessed, including diet, exercise, stress management, etc.

The researchers then conducted statistical analyses to see how the above factors were related to one-another.

The results showed that 95% of the girls regularly used their smartphones before going to sleep. Another result of the study was that there was a significant positive association between smartphone dependence and sleep quality, “with a greater the degree of smartphone dependence associated with shorter sleep length.” Another finding was that those students with good health-related behaviours (e.g. they eat healthy and exercise) had better sleep quality than others.

This study shows that there is a relationship between smartphone use and sleep quality. It also suggests both positive factors (e.g. healthy eating) and negative factors (e.g. smartphone dependence) can influence sleep differently.

Wang P-Y, Chen K-L, Yang S-Y, Lin P-H. (2019) Relationship of sleep quality, smartphone dependence, and health-related behaviors in female junior college students. PLoS ONE 14(4): e0214769. pone.0214769

 Smartphone dependence: This was measured in the study by using four items to gauge the degree of smartphone dependence: (1) I feel uneasy or anxious without a smartphone by my side. (2) I always involuntarily want to stare at my smartphone screen. (3) The first thing I do when I get up in the morning is to check whether there are any calls or text messages on my phone, and check social networking sites, such as Facebook and Line, for messages. (4) I continue to check my smartphone for calls or social networking messages while in class. The questions in this part were scored on a fivepoint Likert scale (from 1 = do not agree to 5 = completely agree; total score ranging from 4 to 20), with a higher score indicating a greater degree of smartphone dependence.

 *This detail has been added for the purpose of the assessment. The rest is taken from the real report.

Wang P-Y, Chen K-L, Yang S-Y, Lin P-H. (2019) Relationship of sleep quality, smartphone dependence, and health-related behaviors in female junior college students. PLoS ONE 14(4): e0214769. pone.0214769

Answer all of the following three questions, referring to the stimulus material in your answers. Marks will be awarded for demonstration of knowledge and understanding of research methodology.

1a: Identify the method used and outline two characteristics of the method. [3]

1b: Describe the sampling method used in the study. [3]

1c: Suggest an alternative or additional research method giving one reason for your choice. [3]

2:Describe the ethical considerations that were applied in the study and explain if further ethical considerations could be applied.

3:Discuss the possibility of generalizing the findings of the study. [9]

More Paper 3 practice papers and mark schemes are available in the Qualitative Methods TSP.


Paper 3 Practice With Mark Scheme Wang