Before writing the article for Math-Ly, psychology and mathematics had never appeared that intertwined to Alexandra, but after doing some research she realized how great are the implications of mathematics in psychology and that it’s even a required course for students wishing to pursue a career in this domain.
Alexandra and her Math-Ly editorial team, coordinated by their maths teacher, Mihaela Ancuța, interviewed some of the Avenor alumni and discovered how mathematics helps them in their chosen field of study. Read below an interview with Ana and Vanessa, Class of 2020, who are currently studying Psychology at the University.
Alexandra: Tell us a bit about yourself. What drew you to Psychology?
Ana: I’m Ana, I’m 19 years old and I am in my first year of studying Psychology at University in London. I fell in love with Psychology during my first year of A Levels when I started studying it. At the time I was a bit confused as my other passion was Art as well, so I didn’t know what to choose between the two. I was entirely sure of studying Psychology further when I moved to London for my second year of A Levels. I had the best Psychology teacher I have ever met and my true passion for Psychology fully came out.
Alexandra: Was mathematics a subject you enjoyed whilst studying at Avenor? If yes, what particular mathematics topic did you enjoy most?
Ana: I thoroughly enjoyed studying Maths at Avenor, because I had the privilege of having Mihaela Ancuta as my teacher all throughout high school. Mihaela made me absolutely love Maths and she has been the best support system for studying and working so hard to achieve the best results. Pure Maths was my favourite part of Maths, followed by Statistics. My favourite topics from Pure Maths were quadratics, integration, differentiations and I enjoyed probabilities and the Normal distribution from Statistics.
Alexandra: What are the implications of mathematics in Psychology?
Ana: Statistics is the only mathematical part of Psychology, but it is very important. The understanding of Statistics is crucial in Psychology, which is backed up by the use of statistical software which help you with the calculations. You need to understand how to analyse and interpret data, as well as descriptive and inferential statistics (this looks at describing data and making inferences, predictions about data). This is all used to understand the results that you get from the psychological experiments you conduct when you do your own research after University or for your last year of University. It is extremely important to master your statistics in Psychology so you can understand what your research has found and what conclusions you can draw from your participants’ behaviour.
Vanessa: Psychology may be described as the abstract study of the mind, but people shouldn’t forget about the scientific part of it. Whether someone is interested to know if men have bigger feet than women, or if depression occurs more often in people who are frequent social media users than in those who don’t even have social media accounts, psychology needs the help of mathematics to conduct a reliable scientific study.
Alexandra: Are the mathematics concepts taught during high school useful in your current Psychology course? If yes, which particular ones and how exactly?
Ana: Yes, they are, specifically Statistics, as that is a very present and important part of Psychology. Normal distributions and the distribution of data is probably the most important part of high school Mathematics as it is something you will permanently use in Psychology, not matter at what level. On the other hand, the logical thinking and understanding I gained from Pure Maths is also very important in understanding data from Psychology.
Vanessa: Mathematics has been an important asset to psychologists, since in order to present their results to the rest of the world so that everyone can understand what they mean by all of those numbers, psychologists need to calculate them first. Statistical tests such as the “mean”, “standard deviation” and “t-test” are the most popular among all studies. But even if all of these tests get done, the average person won’t understand what they mean. Therefore, another mathematical part comes in handy when presenting results: graphs!
A clear and concise study has an abundance of bar graphs, pie charts, tables, and many more mathematical numeric representations.
The mind is such a complicated thing to study, since everyone sees the world in a different perspective, there is a need for exact science to make sense of what we find out.