Idiographic and Nomothetic - Issues and debates

  • Created by: Georgia
  • Created on: 03-03-19 22:15
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  • Idiographic and nomothetic approaches to psychological research
    • Idiographic approach Considers the unique individual; subjective; personal study to 'capture' individuality; no general laws because of free will and uniqueness
      • Research methods Case studies Self-report Content analysis
        • Case studies Unique and holistic individual; demonstrate and evaluate theory
          • Lack of applicability
        • Self-report More detailed; self-reflection
        • Content   analysis  Auto-biographies; letters; diaries; personal documents
          • e.g. Clive Wearing's diary
    • Idiographic limitations Can't generalise; subjective and un-standardised research methods; can be considered unscientific (lack of qual. data)
    • Nomothetic approach Studying large groups of people, similar behaviour; general laws of behaviour can be established
    • 3 general laws    Radford and Kirby (1975)
      • 1. Classifying people into groups using behaviour (e.g. DSM)
      • 2. Establishing principles of behaviour that can be generalised (e.g. obedience/ conformity research)
      • 3. Establishing dimensions in which people can be compared (e.g. IQ scores, statistical deviation)
    • Research methods Scientific methods (quan. data); data from large group can be scientifically analysed
    • Idiographic strengths Qualitative data (detailed); holistic (full analysis); starting base for further research; allows us to explore naturally occurring stimuli (e.g. Romanian orphans)
    • Nomothetic strengths Scientific (standardised, hypotheses); generalised and replicable (large groups)
    • Nomothetic limitations Loses aspect of individuality (objective); gives superficial understanding of a person (e.g. F scale)
  • Idiographic
  • Nomothetic
  • Humanistic
  • Psychodynami
  • Biological
    • Cognitive
      • Behaviourist


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