Psychology Personal Statement
Submitted by Sasha
During the holidays of 2016, I took part in some scientific based work experiences including editing for the student British Medical Journal, being a first aider in a refugee camp in Germany and blogging for an AI event planning group based in London. In addition to realising that it was possible to take my pure science background and apply it to many areas of a commercial workplace, I became fascinated by how the refugees adapted to new social situations and the impact that AI has on human behaviour.
I have always had a passion for science but it is only recently that I have discovered how diverse and interesting the study of psychology is and I would like to develop this at degree level. I have been exposed to the science of psychology, knowingly or not, as my mother suffers from bipolar disorder. Growing up around a person with such a complex mental illness made me question its cause. My mother has given me many reasons for her disorder including her upbringing so I wanted to see if there was a reliable link between the way she was raised and the disorder she has. I have since discovered that several members of my family have had different psychiatric conditions. I have become interested in research that studies how much behaviour is influenced by nature and how much by nurture. This led me to read 'Nature via Nurture' by Matt Ridley. It is here that Ridley showed how recent research demonstrates that the expression of genes can be affected by the environment and how these controlled genes impact behaviour, thus explaining how the two theories can coexist. Unable to attend psychology classes at school, I sought my own reading. I found Oliver Sacks' witty and insightful presentation of his studies in 'An Anthropologist on Mars' particularly stimulating. His study of Greg F. in 'The Last Hippie' was similar to the case of Phineas Gage in that they both experienced frontal lobe damage and I found Sacks' exploration of the relationship between cognitive functions, and the roles specific parts of the brain play in memory thought-provoking. Having enjoyed Sacks' work and style of writing, I read 'The Man who mistook his Wife for a Hat' where further case studies of localised brain function are explored. I hope to look into similar case studies through research at university.
Through my EPQ I was able to look at many methods of research and conduct a meta-analysis titled 'Based on research already conducted is there enough evidence to draw a direct link between the consumption of Excitotoxins, Alzheimer's disease and other small brain lesions?' Although this was not based on a pure area of psychology it still allowed me to look thoroughly through research, find faults and question reliability and research methods. Writing an EPQ required me to develop a complex, balanced argument in a discursive essay format. Having taken statistics for AS Mathematics, I am aware of the issues associated with statistical data and I look forward to applying both my interest in research and statistics at university.
As a mixed-race student who spends time with both Italian and Ghanaian family, I have always been aware that different cultures have different behavioural norms. This summer, I took part in the National Citizenship Service which allowed me to consider social influence in a much wider context. I lived and worked with people from many different socio-economic and racial backgrounds. We had few norms and had to negotiate common goals and behaviours in order to successfully complete the tasks set. It was after this that I became interested in the dynamics of groups and social psychology. I watched an open Yale course, 'Why are people different? : Differences', where Professor Paul Bloom discusses the varying elements of social dynamics, intelligence and personality. I found the analysis of social intelligence particularly engaging and this is something I cannot wait to explore further at university.