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Travis DixonHealth Psychology

IB Health Psychology is one of the Options for Paper Two.

The following is a work in progress. 

Health Problems: Stress

The following information focuses on the “health problem” of stress. 

Explanations of health problem(s) 

  • Biological explanations for stress
      • COMT gene and the Warrior/Worrier Hypothesis (Blog / Video One/Two)
        • Key study:
        • Key study:
    • The Hippocampus and Stress (Blog)
    • The PFC and Stress (Blog)
  • Cognitive explanations for stress
    • Appraisals (Blog / Video)
      • Key Study: Cognitive Appraisals and the Stress Response (Lazarus, 1963) (Blog / Video)
      • Key Study: Stress beliefs and health problems (Fischer et al. 2016) (Blog)
    • Locus of Control (Blog / Video)
  • Sociocultural explanations for stress – Social status (Blog / Video)
    • Key Study: Subjective social status and stress (Steen et al. 2020) (Blog / Video)
    • Key Study: Subjective social status and the stress response in teenagers (Rahal et al., 2019)(Blog / Video)
    • Key Studies: Status in the workplace – the Whitehall Studies (Blog / Video)

The Lost Lesson: How stress kills – the stress response and cardiovascular disease (Link)

Prevalence rates of health problem(s) 

  • Gender differences in stress (Blog)
  • Academic stress (Studies on IB Students)(Blog/Video)
  • Example Essay: Prevalence Rates of One Health Problem (Blog)

Exam Tip: Social status can provide a sociocultural explanation for stress and differences in prevalence rates of stress and stress-related health problems.


  • Experiments in the study of stress (Blog / Video)
  • Ethical considerations in research on stress (Blog / Video)

Determinants of Health 

Biopsychosocial model of health and well-being

  • The BPS Model (Blog/Video)
  • How to evaluate the BPS Model
  • The BPS model of challenge and threat (Blog/Video)

Dispositional factors and health beliefs*

  • Health beliefs and stress
  • The Health Belief Model (Blog/Video)
  • Locus of control and stress (Blog/Video)
  • Self-efficacy and stress

Risk and protective factors

  • Genetics:
  • The Brain:
  • ACEs:
  • Locus of control:
  • Appraisals:
  • Status:
  • Coping strategies:
    • Emotion vs. Problem-focused (Blog/Video)


  • Experiments in the study of stress (Blog / Video)
  • Ethical considerations in research on stress (Blog / Video)

Promoting Health 

Health promotion & Effectiveness of health promotion programme(s)


The biological approach to health promotion

The cognitive approach to health promotion

The sociocultural approach to health promotion


Health Psychology in IB Psychology requires the study of one or more “Health Problems.” These should come from one of the following: 

  • Stress
  • Addiction
  • Obesity
  • Chronic pain
  • Sexual health 

IB Health Psychology – Option Overview

*Although these may be taught together, assessment questions may be formulated by separating these parings. For example, a question could be set on dispositional factors, or health beliefs, or dispositional factors and health beliefs. From the IB Psychology Guide, pg. 38.

Exam Tips

For each “topic” there will be one exam question in Paper Two. This means you only have to study one of the following “topics” and the related examinable content:

  • Health problems
  • Determinants of health
  • Promoting health

You can see past papers and exam questions in this video.

Mr Dixon’s Tip: Choose “Health Problems” as your exam topic for the following reasons:

  1. It has the least content.
  2. It’s most logically linked to the three approaches (bio, cog, soc/cult).
  3. It’s easiest.
  4. It overlaps a lot with “Determinants of health” so most of what you study for “Health problems” could be useful for those exam questions, too.