Section C - 4 Mark Question (Individual Differences Approach)

4 mark question for section C of the individual differences approach.

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Section C:
Describe how the individual differences approach can explain a behaviour/phenomenon.
(4 marks)
Describe how the individual differences approach can explain mental illness.
The individual differences approach assumes that in order to understand the complexity of human
behaviour and experience, in this case mental illness, it is necessary to study the differences
between people rather than those things that we all have in common. From the study of Rosenhan,
we learn that it is difficult for psychiatrists to be able to reliably tell who is sane and who is insane.
The DSM-II was the criterion at use during this study; this is now in its fourth edition demonstrating
the fact that the classification system itself is unreliable. Psychiatrists are more likely to make a type
two error (more likely to call a healthy person sick) than a type one error (calling a sick person
healthy) as it is safer to err on the side of caution. Rosenhan argues that mental illness is a social
phenomenon and that it is a consequence of labelling. For example, pseudo patients' normal
behaviours were often seen as aspects of their supposed illness. For example, nursing records for
three of the pseudo patients showed that their writing was seen as an aspect of their pathological
behaviour.
Describe how the individual differences approach can explain multiple personality disorder.
The individual differences approach assumes that in order to understand the complexity of human
behaviour and experience, in this case MPD, it is necessary to study the differences between people
rather than those things that we all have in common. The study of Thigpen and Cleckley provides an
account of the psychotherapeutic treatment of a 25 year old woman who was referred to the
researchers because of "sever and blinding headaches". During interviews, several emotional
difficulties were revealed. The psychiatrists believed that she had a number of complex, but
relatively common marital conflicts and personal frustrations. Through the therapy, the researchers
discovered two personalities; Eve Black and Jane. Results of the IQ test show that Eve White
obtained an IQ of 110 and Eve Black had an IQ of 104. Memory test results show that Eve White had
a superior memory function than Eve Black. Some of the childhood incidents reported by Eve Black
were later backed up in interviews with her parents and her husband. Eve suggested that the
fragmentation of her personality had been to protect herself from things she could not bear.
Describe how the individual differences approach can explain gambling.
The individual differences approach assumes that in order to understand the complexity of human
behaviour and experience, in this case gambling, it is necessary to study the differences between
people rather than those things that we all have in common. From the study of Griffiths, we learn that
the study supports the argument that regular fruit machine users do use cognitive biases when
gambling. For example, the use of flexible attributions: "I'm not doing too well here... it must have
paid out". Regular gamblers choose the wrong heuristics at the wrong time and this continue to
gamble. Griffiths argues that although regular gamblers do make more irrational verbalisations, he is
cautious about whether such findings do explain the difference between regular and non-regular
gamblers. In addition, Griffiths argues that more research needs to be carried out to discover
whether the choice of heuristics is the underlying cause of irrational gambling behaviour or whether
the choice of heuristics are the symptoms of a deeper underlying cause such as personality defects.

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