Psychology Personal Statement (Oxbridge)

Psychology has always been a part of my life, as I have Asperger's syndrome. I have always noticed how other people behaved differently from me.

I've repeatedly wondered what makes this happen and that's how I ended up being interested in psychology. I began to wonder what makes some people more sympathetic than others.

At school, when I was younger, I always preferred to do things by myself than to work with a group, because it was better and faster for me. Because of that, their feelings for me were not very sympathetic. I then realised that sympathy is connected with similarity in personality and gestures.

Also, I noticed that sympathy increases the frequency of contact with some people, especially if there's a common task to do.

To prove my theory to myself, I began to behave like my peers, and it really affected my level of sympathy. I enjoyed this result very much and it strengthened my interest in psychology.

Later, I read an article on psychology that described various studies about what determines whether a person likes you.

I have read many articles and books on psychology. My favorite is Robert Cialdini's book "Influence: Science and Practice". I remember while reading this book that I didn't realise how easily I was being manipulated by others.

Since then, whenever I see someone trying to sell a product, I recall the techniques described in this book, that this person uses, and how people are so easily manipulated. Also, after reading about all the techniques, I tested them on friends, with various results.

Of course, I realize that most of the research cited there was carried out 20-30 years ago, and that in psychology, a lot of ideas could have changed. In the future, I would also like to carry out such experiments to discover new rules of social influence.

The working of our brain also seems to me not to be so straightforward (particularly after reading "The man who mistook his wife for a hat" by Oliver Sacks). I am constantly wondering what the brain's capabilities are and what we can achieve by improving it regularly, so I decided to take a memory course.

Thanks to the right exercises I was able to improve my working memory considerably and felt that my brain was working at a higher speed than usual.

It was rewarding to realise that by actively using my imagination while learning I was able to learn faster and longer.

I also learned useful mnemonic techniques like the 'substitute method', or the 'memory palace'. I consider the memory palace to be a very valuable mnemonic technique because I was able to memorize almost everything in a relatively short time.

What's more, this amazing technique shows the seemingly unlimited potential of our brain.

Recently I've done some voluntary work, helping people with cognitive impairments. It was quite an experience.

I had a lot of opportunities to observe how they behave, although I wasn't informed about their disabilities. The biggest problem for me was normal communication with those people.

I was practically forced to use nonverbal communication, so I improved my use of it a little. Although those people barely understood me, I noticed that they had learned specifc patterns of behaviour on the click/wrrr basis.

For example, every time I smiled one of them burst out laughing. Thanks to that I also knew when they were hungry, because then they opened their mouth. This experience taught me to be even more patient and responsible.

As for my other interests, in my free time I really enjoy the music of Chopin, and film music. I am a student at a music school. I play the piano and the saxophone and I have won some local competitions.

Even here psychology helps me, because I've learnt that I can practise playing my instrument in my imagination, which gives surprisingly good results.

I also like spending time solving maths problems. I am sure that such experiences, and my practical involvement with psychology will support me during the course for which I am applying.

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Author's Comments

I got an offer from UCL and a rejection from Oxford.


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