The following has been adapted from our IB revision textbook, now available as an online textbook.
In the new IB Psychology Paper 3, you may be asked to describe the ethical considerations that were applied in the study and “explain if further considerations could be applied.” This question is a little misleading, so let’s look at how you can score full marks if this question comes up.
The most important thing to know about Question 2 in Paper 3 is that it’s worth 6 marks and requires you to write about 6 different ethical considerations. The question is broken into two parts, so write about 3 considerations in response to each part.
The first part of this question should be the easiest to answer (read how). The second part is a bit more difficult. Firstly, this question should say explain how further considerations could be applied, not if they could. Therefore, you must think of three additional considerations that were not mentioned in the stimulus. The “considerations” mostly refers to the common guidelines provided by ethics committees of various countries. These include:
- Informed consent (and parental consent)
- Right to withdraw
- Any use of deception is justified
- Approval from an ethics review board
- Coercion (is there any pressure to participate?)
These considerations all relate to the golden rule of ethics in psychology – “do no harm.” The term for this is beneficence (from the Belmont Report).
- How to “describe the ethical considerations that were applied in the study.”
- Lesson Idea: Ethics of applying findings
- Lesson Idea: Ethics of reporting findings
The May 2019 Paper 3 had three considerations that were applied. These three should have been described for the first part of the question. They were (i) informed consent, (ii) debriefing and (iii) beneficence – the procedures were harmless. That leaves anonymity, the right to withdraw and approval from an ethics review board as three additional considerations that could have been applied.
If you’re a student of mine I want you to clearly label your answer with two headings that distinguish the two parts to the question (Applied Ethics and Further Ethics would be good headings). Then I would love to see six distinct paragraphs – one for each consideration. This will help me mark your work and will also help you ensure you’ve hit all six points.
Revise using flashcards to review the considerations and use practice exams (see below) to try applying this information in response to stimulus papers. Make sure you can answer the question in about 20 minutes or less.
- Paper 3 Practice: Individualism and Happiness in a Japanese Workplace
- Paper 3 Practice: Trauma and the September 11 Attacks
- Paper 3 Practice: Observation of Hospitals
- Paper 3 Practice: Smartphones and sleep
From The Guide
Travis Dixon is an IB Psychology teacher, author, workshop leader, examiner and IA moderator.