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Personal Statement for Master of Behavioral Science program at UPenn

himca 1 / 3 2  
Jan 12, 2024   #1
Prompt: Please describe your interest in the Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences (MBDS) at Penn and what you hope to gain from the experience. The length of your personal statement should be approximately 500 words that fit on two double-spaced pages.

I work at a leading Indonesian e-commerce company as a Senior UX Researcher. As a Senior UX Researcher, most of my research aims to better understand users' needs and how the UX team can provide usable designs to help them easily shop/sell items on the platform. However, as I continued to gain experience in the field, I realized that crafting merely a usable design by itself isn't often enough to pull users to adopt a product, as many flawlessly designed products still struggle to grow and profit from their user base. Furthermore, the company's strategy to solely rely on incentivizing users with massive price discounts has been unsustainable as the marketing budget continues to shrink, owing to the ever-increasing pressure on the company to be profitable as soon as possible. To answer this issue, I shifted my research to help find other ways to influence users' behavior to spend more money on the platform. Upon discovering the field of behavioral science, I learned that by understanding people's cognitive biases and heuristics, I can craft nudges that can influence their behavior. One of my experiments to nudge users was to help design a marketing campaign that utilize scarcity and loss aversion messaging. As a result, the campaign yielded significantly higher sales than existing campaigns. Despite gaining positive results, I found that I still lacked the fundamental knowledge to recognize and explain the underlying concept behind my results and to evaluate the nudges for future iterations properly.

I also founded and ran a small beverage business on the side, which I often utilize as a playground to explore the implementation of behavioral science in various domains. One of the instances was when I noticed that a previously popular item suddenly underperformed in sales for several weeks. Upon observation, I discovered that a few weeks before, a staff member unknowingly moved the item from eye-level to knee-level shelf area to accommodate a new product. I then hypothesized that salience might be the culprit behind this drop in sales. I tested this hypothesis by moving the product back to the eye-level shelf area and also by placing another item in the same area. The result was clear: upon returning to its original placement, the popular item increased in sales to almost the same level before being moved, and placing another item in the eye-level area also proved to increase its sales significantly. However, during the process, I struggled to plan an experimental design and choose suitable statistical methods that would yield scientifically sound results that could be used as a basis for business decisions.

I aim to be a UX Researcher who excels in crafting delightful user experiences and effective and ethical behavior change interventions that drive profitability. The MBDS program can help me achieve this goal by providing fundamental knowledge of behavioral science and practical industry experience. I want to gain fundamental knowledge to help me understand the underlying concept behind human behavior and decision-making, craft effective nudges, plan and execute scientifically rigorous experimental process, and evaluate collected data to create better iterations. Moreover, the Capstone Experience project and the internship opportunities are a golden opportunity for me to add more industry experience under my belt before returning to the job market. I also find that the program's student composition, which is mainly composed of professionals with years of experience, is very beneficial, as I will be able to exchange insights with my batch mates from their respective fields.

(574 words)
Holt  Educational Consultant - / 14,974 4811  
Jan 13, 2024   #2
The response to the essay is totally incorrect. You are discussing your personal interest in behavioral science and how you developed that interest within applicable areas of your expertise. The question was about why you were drawn to the program at U Penn. Your response is unrelated to the question. This is the type of writing prompt that asks you to align your interests and experiences with the study objectives and professional goals as offered by the university. Clearly there is no relationship between your interests and experiences and the university so the reviewers will tend to disregard your application. You need to revise the essay to include a reference to the course syllabus of UPenn. Otherwise, you will weaken your application consideration.

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