Birkbeck has won both of this year’s University of London psychology project prizes:
The annual prizes are awarded in competition with all University of London colleges. Professor Mike Oaksford, Head of the School of Psychology, said: ‘It is a fantastic achievement for Birkbeck to win both of these prizes and it is yet another demonstration that part-time students are able to compete with their full-time counterparts. Both Rachel and Stefanie produced insightful and high-quality work which is a testament to the broad range of topics and issues within the School.’
In her project, which was supervised by Professor Jay Belsky and Dr Naz Derakhshan, Rachel Sigrist attempted to categorise people according to their relationship attachment styles (how secure or insecure they are in their close relationships – and, if insecure, whether this is characterised by anxiety or avoidance), and also according to certain personality traits, such as overall anxiety levels and overall repression levels. Rachel, who was working as a ministerial speech writer at the Treasury during her degree, completed her project as part of a BSc Psychology. Although already a graduate, Rachel says: ‘I could have done a conversion course, but psychology has always been a subject that interested me, so I decided the best way to explore it was to do a full BSc.’ Since graduating in July 2006, Rachel has given birth to a son and is planning to go back to studying in September. Eventually she is hoping to begin a new career in psychiatry.
Stefanie Nixon (see picture above), who was supervised by Dr Jennifer Aydelott, shared the Carpenter Prize for projects not in individual differences with a student from University College London. Stefanie studied the effects on the listener of having to listen to two words at once, and investigated whether listeners are able to process semantic information in this situation. The prize is a fantastic achievement for Stefanie, who had no previous experience of higher education, as she left school at 17 with O-levels and in 1996 took a GCSE in Psychology from which her interest blossomed. ‘Studying psychology proved to be more fascinating than I ever imagined. By examining the workings of the brain, you begin to realise the complexities of human nature and learn to appreciate the vast array of tasks individuals undertake on a daily basis,’ she commented.