The IB Psychology IA gives you the opportunity to become a real psychologist. You’ll work in a group to plan, prepare and conduct a psychological experiment on actual participants.
Let’s start at the end…
The Final Report
Your final IA is 1,800 – 2,200 word report summarizing your experiment. It will have four major sections:
The report shows how you planned and conducted your experiment as well as your results, their significance and the strengths and limitations of your experiment. Our YouTube channel has a brief summary of an original report.
Rules to Follow
Collaboration: It is mandatory to work as part of a group of two to four students to complete your IA. The initial stages of your IA will be a collaborative process. After you have your data, the remainder of the assignment should be completed independently.
Ethical Considerations: You are not allowed to conduct any experiment that uses:
- Ingestion (e.g. effects of drinking coffee) or inhalation (e.g. drugs or smoking)
- Deprivation (e.g. effects of sleep deprivation)
- Children under 12
- Non-human animals
- Stress, anxiety, or any form of harm (physical or psychological)
Experimental Method: You need to ensure that as the researcher you are the one who is manipulating the independent variable in your study. This means that using a natural or quasi experimental design is not allowed. For instance, you cannot investigate differences between age, culture, or gender. You also need to ensure that you’re conducting an experiment, not a correlational study. It’s recommended that you use a simple experimental design; this involves manipulating one independent variable and having only two conditions.
Choosing the Study
My advice is to pick one from this detailed list. They have all been conducted successfully in the past.
Here are some studies to be warned against: Loftus and Palmer (see why), Glanzer and Cunitz (see why), Stroop effect, Anderson and Pichert and Brewer and Treyens.
DON’T FORGET: While most students begin with choosing a study (and this is a good way to start), it’s more important that you can connect a theory or model to your study. If you choose an effect or bias (e.g. Mozart, Misinformation, Anchoring, heuristics) you should be able to explain the effect using a theory or model.
The key to success in the IB Psychology IA is paying attention to details. Read, watch or listen to the instructions carefully.
Travis Dixon is an IB Psychology teacher, author, workshop leader, examiner and IA moderator.