I have always looked at the people around me and wondered why they behaved in the way they do. I was not aware that this was a psychological concept until I began studying the subject for GCSE, and this aided me to broaden my scope of knowledge. I realised that this was behavioural psychology, which led to my interest in criminology. Psychology GCSE taught me about how different cultures react to fear in different ways. Having read Heinrich et al, which aimed to see if there were any major differences in regards to social anxiety with individualistic and collectivistic cultures, my interest into behavioural Psychology increased.
From this I decided to take Psychology at a higher level in my IB course, where we learnt about Human Relationships among other things, and within this we learnt about cross-cultural differences in relation to behaviour. One study conducted by Levine involved 23 different countries and pro-social behaviour, in which he found that cultures that valued simpatia were more helpful than cultures that did not. These studies, among others in the human relationship topic, really drove my need to find out more. This lead me to read You are not so smart by David McRaney which really opened my eyes to the way people think and how it is possible to change that; I found the concept of learned helplessness particularly interesting. The example McRaney used was voting, and how individuals believe their vote will not count as they are one in several million, which shows that in today’s society people believe they lack the importance to change anything. This concept struck me, as people’s thoughts and reasoning for doing certain things has always scintillated me.
I decided to read the book Brain and Behaviour by Bob Garrett which informed me of the way the brain works biologically, as this is the basis of why we do things and I wanted to know more than what we learn school. Choosing to do the International Baccalaureate has allowed me to take a much wider variety of subjects, and also experience new things through CAS. The 4000 word Extended Essay provided me with the opportunity to research stress and personality types in depth, furthering my interest in psychology, and also gave me experience with writing detailed essays.
My decision to do Biology at higher level was based on the idea that it could help me understand the human body and brain as well as the way they work, including topics on genetics and human physiology. This coincides with the biological and cognitive topics we learn in Psychology, and helped me to deepen my understanding of the basic processes. Chemistry at higher level has given me many skills which I can apply to my work in Psychology. Throughout the two years, we have performed many practical assessments which required write-ups. I can apply skills such as writing methodologies and evaluative tendencies – which I have explored even further in Maths – to Psychology, and this will aid me at university.
I demonstrated these skills last summer, when I completed a week’s internship with the biotech company iQur. This allowed me to gain confidence in my skills, and learn more about the technical side of biology. Learning Italian at a standard level has allowed me to experience a different culture, and this has broadened my world view. This allows me to empathise with people in a manner that I was not originally able. In addition, English has developed my analytical skills, which when presented with qualitative data in Psychology has helped me to devise common themes among research. I participated in York summer school last year, where the main focus was Psychology and Science. It gave me a taster of what doing Psychology at university would be like, and solidified my decision to take it as a degree. I am eager to study Psychology further, as I am deeply invested in the post-graduate degree of criminology. I feel that all of my studies and experiences up to this point will aid me in doing this.