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A RESOURCE BANK OF IDEAS FOR EXTENDED ESSAYS

Past Kennedy IB topics


1. Investigation of the Fallibility of Eyewitness Testimonies in Basis of Psychological Studies and Ways to
Improve the Accuracy
2. Why Do We Affiliate?
3. Conformity: Why is an Adolescent More Likely to be Labeled as a Conformer?
4. The Causes and Effect of Abnormalities in the Physical Structure of the Brain
5. Identities of Doomsday Cults: Members, Leaders, and Cults’ Roles in Their Lives
6. Investigation of the Fallibility of Eyewitness Testimonies in Basis of Psychological Studies and Ways to
Improve the Accuracy
7. The Etiology and Treatments of Phobias
8. The Potential for Inaccurate Children’s Eyewitness Testimonies in Sexual Abuse Cases
9. The Unreliability of Eyewitness Testimonies in Regards to Memory Fallibility
10. The Debate over the Cause of Emotions
11. Why Do We, Humans, Affiliate?
12. Do Psychologists Believe That Prejudice and Discrimination Can be Ended?
13. The Causes and Effects of Abnormalities of the Physical Structure of the Brain
14. Evaluating the Etiology and Treatments of social Phobia through Different Psychological Perspectives.
15. The Effects of Drugs on Human Behavior
16. Which has a greater impact on Cognitive Development: Nature or Nurture?
17. How has current military activities impacted the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD?
18. Are “inclusion” policies in secondary education effective?
OTHER IB TEACHERS
Psychology of Sport and Exercise
 What levels of psychological arousal are most effective for players in team sports?
 What methods are available to combat crippling anxiety in competitive sport?
 Why exercise hurts: an exploration of the processes and functions of fatigue and pain
 How effective can exercise be in combating clinical depression?
 How does participation in team sports influence the development of social skills in 12-16 year old school
students?
 To what extent does personality affect an elite sportsman’s performance?
Education and Psychology
 How far is intelligence determined by heredity or how far is it malleable?
 What are the pros and cons of ‘hothousing ‘ of young children, as a way to develop precocious talent?
 What is the relationship between precocious talent and adult achievement? ( e.g. in Music)
 How far can children be taught to excel in the visual Arts?
 Do children who have attended some form of pre-schooling when under the age of 5 yrs have an
educational advantage when they start school?
 Is the UK government new national curriculum for the under-5’s ‘a threat to all toddlers?’ What is the right
age to start (formal) school ?
 Which method of teaching reading works best?
 Why is dyslexia almost unknown in Italy?
 What is the source of the advantage that Chinese children appear to have in Mathematics?
 Is it true that the stages of cognitive development are universal in all cultures?
 ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’. What effects do different disciplinary styles and policies in schools
have on the behaviour and development of children?
 To what extent does violence in the televised media have the potential to increase the level of aggression
within children?
 A cross-cultural comparison ( e.g. China/UK ) of the effects of schooling on motivation to learn and
educational achievement
 A study of the effectiveness of an unusual form of schooling ( e.g. ‘Montessori’ nurseries; Rudolph Steiner
schools , ‘Summerhill’. )
 Should boys and girls be educated differently?
 What are the causes of gender and subcultural differences in educational achievement in the UK (or
elsewhere) and what can or should be done?
 How do ‘smart drugs’ affect the brain? What are the ethical issues in the increasing use of ‘cognitive
enhancers’ to boost academic performance?
Dysfunctional behaviour and effectiveness of treatments and therapies
 Where children have been taken into care because of family problems, is it always better in principle to
aim to return children to the biological mother?
 How important is fathering to children?
 Are single-parent families inevitably dysfunctional?
 Is depression an illness or a dysfunctional way of thinking?
 What are the benefits and risks of SSRI drugs?
 Is autism ‘an extreme form of the male brain’? – How far is it true that autism has a biological basis?
 How well does the lack of a ‘theory of mind’ account for the characteristic problems of individuals with
autistic spectrum disorder (ASD)?
 A comparison of different therapeutic interventions in ASD
 ‘Oppositional Defiant Disorder’ – a label for children adults can’t control?
 Exploration of the arguments and ethical issues around prescribing drugs to children with ADHD and
related problems
 How do individuals respond to traumatic life experiences? Is it necessary to face past horrors or is it better
to deny and suppress in terms of leading a reasonably happy or successful future life? ( NB exemplars need
to be restricted to a specific context )
Social and Organizational Psychology and applications
 How far can psychology help us overcome prejudices?
 Do we all have the potential within us to do evil? How far can the committing of war atrocities be
explained by Milgram’s obedience account?
 Can psychology help us to understand how to resolve conflict ( exemplars could be from industrial
relations or conflicts between nations ) and negotiate peace ?
 What is the best way to be happy at work? Is happiness compatible with productivity? Is there any
evidence that companies which treat their workers well are more commercially successful?
 What functions does work fulfill for the individual? What are the psychological consequences of current
increases in job-insecurity and unemployment arising from the ‘credit-crunch’ ?
 How do the main sources of stress or job satisfaction differ between employees in two different
employment sectors ( e.g. finance vs teaching ) ?
 Are there any common characteristics of ‘good leaders’ or do leaders n eed to exercise different personal
qualities or styles of behaviour in different spheres? ( e.g. factory manager, vs army commander )
 Are leaders born or made?
 Are leaders really necessary?
Criminal Psychology
 Pathways to crime: an analysis of the interaction of biological factors and early life experience in
‘turning to crime’
 Can prison work? : an evaluation of the effectiveness of the UK ‘thinking skills programme ‘
 Can empathy be taught? : an evaluation of the ‘Restorative Justice’ initiative in the UK
 Nurseries or prisons? : An cost-benefit analysis of the effectiveness of an early intervention programme
(e.g. UK ‘Sure-Start ‘ or ‘YIP’s)
 How far can eye (or ear) witness testimony be trusted and what are the implications for the conduct of
court proceedings?
 Can children be trustworthy witnesses?
 How are children affected by their experience in court and how can their rights best be protected and
balanced against the needs of the legal system?
 How far can psychological theories and research be applied to help juries make fair decisions?
 Creating safe communities: an analysis of the psychology of ‘environmental crime prevention’.
 What advice can psychologists give to the police force on how to treat ethnic minorities fairly and avoid
‘institutional racism’?
Cognitive and Neuro-Psychology
 How can stroke victims be helped to recover their cognitive functions or compensate for missing
functions ? ( e.g memory loss)
 Is the brain organized differently in bilingual people?
 How far can the brain recover and reorganize itself after stroke or brain-damage in early life?
 Is the capacity for language really unique to humans?
 Is it true that dolphins are as intelligent as humans? How could this be tested?
 How much can we learn about brain organization from clinical case –studies ? ( again , might need to
restrict exemplars to one cognitive domain)
Do’s and Don’ts of Extended Essays

Do:
 Be careful not to plagiarize
 Choose a topic for which a substantial number of academic references are available.
What is an academic reference? Published books and journals. You need to be prepared to
read primary source, full-text journals.
 Find your resources before you finalize your question.
 Write a focused research question that is explicitly formulated and well expressed.
 Include analysis and evaluation.
 Consider more than one side of an argument – make sure that there is a debate relevant to
your question.
 Mention the need for further research and unresolved questions within your conclusion.
 Cite your sources accurately – and do not list sources that you have not cited in your
paper.
 Be prepared to address your research topic using the BIG FOUR…is there research out
there addressing culture and gender
Don’t:
 Choose a topic without looking for resources first!
 Choose a topic that is too broad for an essay of 4000 words.
 Conduct your own experiment, interviews, surveys, or observations.
 Write a descriptive essays. These begin with words like “What” or “Which”.
 Write a short conclusion of only 3 – 5 sentences.
 Exceed the word limit.

DO’S DON’TS

 Do consider the dangers of plagiarism  Don’t choose a topic where the subject matter has
 Do choose a topic for which a substantial number very little, or nothing, to do with psychology
of academic references are available  Don’t choose a topic that is too broad for an essay
of up to 4000 words length
 Do write a focused research question that is  Don’t conduct your own survey or experiment
explicitly formulated and well expressed
 Do include analysis and evaluation  Don’t write an essay that is entirely descriptive
 Do consider both sides of an argument  Don’t write an essay that is simply a series of
citations
 Do write the abstract with clear indication of the  Don’t get considerably more help than the
specific research question, the scope (dict.: the recommended 3 to 4 hours from your supervisor
area covered by a given activity or subject) of
investigation and its findings
 Do mention the need for further research and  Don’t write a conclusion that is too brief (2 or 3
unresolved questions within your conclusion lines) or too lengthy (2 or 3 sides)
 Do present web sites citations correctly (EE Guide:  Don’t include new materials not previously
p.13) mentioned into the conclusion
 Do carefully screen web information for  Don’t write an essay considerably under the
authenticity and reliability maximum word limit
 Do distinguish between primary and secondary
reference sources