Search Courses

Psychology

Dear prospective Psychology student,

What is Psychology
Perhaps one of the most popular A-levels and subjects to study further at university, Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind and behaviour. In psychology, we ask deep and meaningful questions about human nature, why we are the way we are, why we like what we do, what can go wrong in our mental health and how to support those with mental illnesses.

What is the point of Psychology
A psychology A-level will equip you with an understanding of the theories behind intelligence, relationships and how to influence human behaviour. Widely considered one of the most universally useful areas of study, psychology helps you understand all aspects of human behaviour, which is why it can be applied broadly.

What are some of the theories of Psychology
Below are some activities to explore just some of what we encounter in our study of the human mind and behaviour.

Theories of Attraction – These relate to what we find physically attractive. Why is it we like certain faces and not others?
The babyface hypothesis suggests one reason - it suggests that young animals tend to have certain features that make them cute: they have big eyes, large forehead, squashed up nose. This preference however doesn’t only apply to babies but also to adults.

Which face do you think is the cutest of the 6 below? Choose one for each row.


The faces farthest to the right are the most “babyfaced” and the faces to the left have had the eyes and foreheads made smaller.
 
Theories of why we are the way we are? – The debate about what makes you is still ongoing in psychology. The main discussion being are our personalities due to nature (our biology & biological determinism) or nurture (our environment & environmental determinism). To psychologists, this has probably been one of the main focuses in research.
 
Psychologist Wescott created a questionnaire to measure what determines each of our behaviours.
For each statement consider how you feel in relation to the situation using a 5-point scale:
5= Very much    4= Quite a lot    3= Somewhat/a little bit    2= Very little    1= Not at all
  1. As the end of term approaches I am up to date with all my work. I plan to spend the rest of term in both study and relaxation. I am in the process of setting my own priorities and making schedule for myself which will include both.
  2. Sometimes I am not actively engaged in any particular activity, I have nothing to do.
  3. All day long I have had a nagging headache, and I have just realised that it is gone.
  4. Getting all ‘A’ marks on my report is something I would really like to achieve. With some difficult courses this seems a very unlikely outcome. A ‘B’ average does seem reasonable within my reach. By lowering my aims, I go for the more certainly attainable goal.
  5. It is midday and I’ve gone to the cafeteria for lunch. I’m standing in line looking at the array of sandwiches, soups and salads. I am deciding what to buy for lunch.
  6. An ad in the paper advertises a holiday to a place I’d like to visit. The offer is open for the next year. I have the time and the money but I haven’t taken any action to pursue it yet.
  7. Working at a repair company I have become very good at fixing broken furniture and clothes. Now faced with this sort of task (repair) I can manage well and efficiently.
  8. Sometimes I restrict or reduce my desires to fit in with what I believe a situation allows and to what I believe my abilities to be.
Add up your ratings for questions 1, 2, 3 & 7 and separately add up your answers from 4,5,6, & 8. The first total score should be higher than the second total, according to Westcott. Westcott suggested that students feel most free when they felt little responsibility for their behaviour or that nothing was stopping them. So, is it that we behave in particular ways? Or is it that the situation we are in makes us behave differently?
 
What’s your personality? Below are further psychological questionnaires which researchers have used to better understand human behaviour.
 
F-Scale (Fascist Scale)
This is a scale to measure your openness to fascism and a fascist mindset (fascism is a sort of far-right politics, characterised as being rigid in their beliefs and based on total obedience to an authority).
Link to F-scale: https://www.anesi.com/fscale.htm
 
Eysenck’s 3 factor model
Psychologist Eysenck suggests that some people have a criminal personality. That is if you are more extraverted (like socialising), neurotic (worry a lot) and psychotic (quick to rage) you may be more likely to be a criminal. To test if this was true Eysenck used the following quiz to measure how ‘criminal’ someone was likely to be based on their personality.
Link to Eysenck’s criminality quiz: - http://similarminds.com/eysenck.html
 
Bem’s Sex Role Inventory (BSRI)
Sandra Bem’s research into gender has been some of the most influential to date. She suggests that those who are androgynous (containing both male and female qualities) tend to have the best mental health, though this would also be affected by how society interacts with you. This questionnaire (linked below) measures to what extent your personality possesses masculine feminine or androgynous personality traits.
Link to BSRI Questionnaire: https://www.doyleqhs.com/uploads/1/1/2/7/11270981/bem_sex-role_inventory.pdf

If your scores in ‘column 1’ (masculine) and from ‘column 2’ (feminine) found on the Inventory Score sheet are roughly equal, it means you are undifferentiated (if both totals are low) or androgynous (if both totals are high). IF the two scores are quite different then you appear to be mostly masculine or feminine.
 
Suggested Watch List- Documentaries
Ted Talks/psychology (webstite)
Years and Years -BBC Iplayer
Take Your Pills - Netflix
The Creative Brain - Netflix
Three Identical Strangers - Netflix
Explained – Netflix
The Mind - Netflix
Louis Theroux – Iplayer & Netflix
Why Did I go Mad? - Dailymotion
Me, My Sex and I
Dr Money and the Boy with No Penis - BBC


If you have any questions about the material above, or about the course itself, contact Mr N Boyd -
n.boyd@sfx.ac.uk.