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= investigating individual in detail to gain a depth in detail unique understanding of individual

  •  study indidivual not group
  • cant generlaise as everyone is unquie 
  • subjectiv experience is only way to understand
  • individual can only explain why... objective observer is worthless
  • tend to have qualatitive data 
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idio detail

Methods used:

  • case studies
  • self report
  • unstructured interview


  • Freud- unstrucured clinial interview.. over long period of time and written summary
  • Humanists- reject idea of everyone treated the same.. use case studies as everyone is unique
  • Social psycholgy... case studies eg clive Wearing who remembered procedual but no episodic 
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Positives of idio

  • 1 goal of science is to describe + understand behaviour so compliments nomotheitc by providing  good detailed information of understanding behvaiour eg Clive Wearing 
  • fits with holsitic approach/ idea as view the whole person even in conext/ social
  • someones its the only way to study certain behaviour eg Freuds repression
  • it can make hypothesises for future scienctific investigation... eg Piaget acted as a trigger for other psychologists eg Kohlberg 
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negatives of idio

  • methods are subjective.. no control so cant get pure replication, cant find casual relationships or make future predictions
  • cant generlaise to wider population as case studies can be rare eg freud who developed a personality theory who argued to applied to all
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= understanding general behaviour through investigating a large group of people and try to find general laws that apply to all

  • test on large groups of people to work out by behave like that 
  • say similarities between people and laws governing behaviour so when casual relationships they can apply to whole groups
  • experimental methods so get quantative data
  • individuals are then classfied with others and become avergae supporting general princples
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3 general laws

  • classifiying peolpe into vacious groups... diagonestic manual of mental disorders.. provides means of classifying more than 200 types of disorders
  • establish princples of behaviour... find casual links then apply to all
  • establish dilemmas for people to be compared on... eg IQ test on intelligence.. test on all then compare between people
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nomo detail


  • behaviourist.. test on animals and generlaise to humans.. eg pavlov dog.. measure salivation
  • social psychology.. Asch- conform with majority, only took 3 and Milgram said all obey authority 
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Positives of nomo

  • methods used so can predicit, control and replicate.. find casual links
  • as use large group and controlled environment can easily replicate and generlaise to wider population
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negatives of nomo

  • artifical so cant generlise to real world
  • lose 'whole' person as cant say all predicitions can apply to all of us
  • understanding is often superficial as 2 people may recieve same score but give very different answers 
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Murray et al .. say in some respect we are:

  • like no other
  • like some other
  • like all other

if we have no facotrs in common we wouldnt be able to understand on another 

- Aims of science is to gain detail, understand, predict and control behaviour.. idiographic is the first 2 and nomothetic is the last two so we need a balance so interaction of the two 

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How do they compliment each other?

  • using results of nomothetic we can gain futher insight by exploring futher using idiographic
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