Individual Differences Approach

  • Created by: Kerrie27
  • Created on: 13-04-15 12:24

Individual Differences

The main assumption of the indvidual differences perspective is that to understand the complexity of human behaviour and experiences it necessary to study the differences between people rather than those things that we all have in common. For example the individual differences aproach largely focuses on things such as personality differencesm and abnormality.

This approac assumes that all human bengs are unique. Individuals differ in their behaviour and personal qualities so not everyone can be consideredthe 'average person', it is difficult to categorise behaviours.

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Individual Differences Strengths

A main strength of the indvidual differences perspective is that it has usefll applicaions for those who have mental health problems/show abnormal beaviours. It can provide useful information in improving te experences of those withmentalhealthproblemsor dysfunctional behaviour.

e.g Rosenhan lead to a revision of the way that people with mental health problems are both diagnosed and treated.

e.g Bruner This study includes the key principle of studying why people are different rather than why we are similar. In this study it looks at genetic differences being the key marker of why a person is aggressive. It also focuses on abnormality. In this case, the mutation of a specific gene that causes irregular hormone activity.

A further strength of the individal differences approach has been the development and use of psychometric tests to measure the differences between individualsin qualities such as personality and intelligence. These psychometric tests to provide reliable ad quantitative data which can easily be analysed and therefore similarities and differences between individuals, comparisons can be made.

e.g Thigpen&Cleckley e.g Budzynski, psychometric tests ofdepression, hysteria ad hypochondira.

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Individual Differences Weaknesses

An issue with the indivdual differences approach is ethical issues raised with labelling people as being different. The tendecy to label people asbeing different, abnormal and so on can have a ngative effect on individals. Furthermore labels particlarly negative ones can lead to self-fulfilling prophecy in which expectations about a person (or group of people) can come true simply becase of those expectations. Also ethical issues can be raised because participants may be vulnerable.

e.g Lauren Alloy - labelled some as having negative thinking/high risk.

e.g Studies of people with depression/disorders, McGarth vulnerable girl with a noise phobia.

A weakness of the individual differences approach is a reliance on dispositional explanations at the expense of stuational explanations. That is the individual differences approach explains individual differences as resulting from a person's own characteristics or disposition and has a tendency to ignore external factors.

e.g Thigpen and Cleckley, many of Eves difficulties could also be explained by the expectations of being a wife in the US in the 1950s.

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