Psychology Personal Statement

Daniel Kahneman's 'Thinking, Fast and Slow,' has fuelled my desire to become engaged with psychological research as it helped me realise the importance of not trusting our assumptions about human psychology. Kahneman challenged the supposition that humans are rational agents, using psychological research to make a strong argument.

I wish to study psychology in a rigorous manner so that in the future I can produce reliable research to help us further our understanding of human behaviour and cognition.

I regularly read articles on sites such as the BPS digest in order to keep up to date with the current research, which is especially interesting when an article seems to contradict what I have previously learnt. "Exaggerating With Statistics (About Rape)," is an article on Psychology Today which challenges commonly cited rape statistics.

I found the article engaging as it managed to maintain a pragmatic approach to an emotional issue, a vital part of science. Reading such articles has helped me understand the importance of objectivity in studying psychology.

In order to develop my own critical thinking skills further I have taken part in online debates, such as discussions about the morality of capital punishment. Such debates have helped me understand that people will judge the same issues by different standards, which can help account for distinct conclusions.

I have applied this in ethics lessons to help evaluate ethical theories; for instance utilitarianism can only be a good ethical theory if you consider maximising happiness important to morality.

Over the summer I attended Oxford's UNIQ summer school where I took part in a lecture on how we develop our language. It was surprising to learn that as we grow up we lose the ability to distinguish between certain sounds which are not used in our native language. This helped me appreciate how environmental factors interact with our innate biological abilities.

I have also listened to Steven Pinker's talk "The Language of Swearing," which explains the importance of understanding the psychology of language to inform policy.

This adds to my aspiration of becoming involved in research, as I want to add to the scientific knowledge which advises our decisions. I have written an informative article for my school's newspaper on determinism, an idea I largely support as I do not see how the same factors could cause different results in behaviour.

The article demonstrates my ability to convey complex psychological ideas in a way that the general population can understand, a key communication skill for somebody involved in research.

Extra Credits and Game Theory are channels that have applied psychological concepts to video games, offering unique perspectives on how psychology can be linked to the world around us. "Game Theory: Candy Crush, Designed to ADDICT," explores how neurotransmitters cause game addiction while "Extra Credits: The Skinner Box," takes a more behaviourist approach to addiction.

These videos gave me a greater understanding of different approaches to psychology I have learnt about in A-level psychology. An example of this is seeing how Skinner's box oversimplifies player interactions with complex game mechanics helped me appreciate that behaviourism can be too reductionist.

Another channel which has helped widen my understanding of psychology is Ti Dr's videos often put scientific studies under scrutiny, evaluating how good the methodology is and if the given conclusion can really be drawn from the results. I have applied what I have learnt from these videos in my biology classes when assessing our own experiments.

I hope that by studying psychology at university I will be able to go on to contribute my analytical and communication skills alongside my self-motivation to psychological research in the future.

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Author's Comments

I actually don't like my personal statement anymore since my opinions, formal writing skills, and understanding of psychology have changed significantly since then. It got me offers from 4/5 of my universities and an invite to interview at Oxford though, so I guess it can't be that bad. I think the moral is that you have to accept your personal statement isn't going to be a work of art. You simply don't have the experience to write something comparable to professional CVs; admissions knows this, they're not expecting you to write like someone who actually has experience in the field. I think the most important thing is communicate that you are genuinely interested in your chosen subject, and to back that up with tangible evidence of that interest.

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