Individual Differences Psychology ( Section C Notes)

Individual Differences approach 

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Individual Differences Approach

The individual differences approach looks to measure and rank people and catergorise us by the small differences that distinguish one person from another. 

Assumptions of the approach:

  • that there are remarkable similarities in the ways that people make sense of the world but at this point in history are more concerned on what distinguishes one perosn from another. 
  • people are able to communicate, they seek out other people and they have warm attachments to other people that endure over time. 
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Describe how the ID approach could explain...

Errors in the diagnostic system-As certain ways of life might be seen as normal in some cultures but abnormal in other cultures such as from the Rosenhan study where queuing early for lunch was seen as a mental illness or as a way of dealing with their mental illness even though that wasn't the case.  

MPD-even the different personalities have something different between them which distinguishes  them as separate people for e.g. in the Thigpen and Cleckley study Eve's different personalities ( EW, EW and Jane) were all in a different rank and category which shows that they were different people/ personalities. 

Gambling Behaviour-That every certain person has small differences in the way they gamble, which would distinguish one person from another. E.g. in the Griffiths study on gambling, people would talk or not talk and they might say certain words like "That machine likes me" which shows that their way of gambling is different compared to other people thus a small difference to distinguish them from another person. 

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Describe 1 difference and 1 similarity between..

(EXAMPLE)  Rosenhan/Griffiths :

  • Similarity - In both of their samples, they both had male dominated participants ( apart from the control group in Griffiths). Both were feild experiments ( Rosenhan in actual hopsitals and Griffiths in actual arcades) 
  • Difference - The Rosenhan study was a lot more psychologycally harming compared to the Griffiths study as there were more ethical issues such as the hospitals did not have informed consent for the study to take part in their hospitals also depersonalisation occured to the pseudopatients as well as powerlessness due to the conditions. 
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  • We are able to see what certain different characteristics make each person unique e.g. Thigpen and Cleckley - shows the differences between the three different personalities/ people in EW ( She was shy and didn't talk much, EW was loud and mischievous and Jane was calm, talkative, happy - a balance between the other two.) 
  • We can use the approach to make testing for mental illnesses better e.g. the Rosenhan study showed that the diagnostic system was terrible and since then has been improved. This is important as the study has enabled psychiatrists and hospitals to recognize how unreliable and bad their systems are and can then improve them from this study as well as making their hospitals more friendly as to prevent depersonalisation and powerlessness. 
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  • The reliability of the individual differences in low as small groups of participants were used in each study for e.g. in the Rosenhan study, 8 pseudo patients were used which means replication is difficult of the study and is unlikely to provide consistent findings. 
  • The methods used in this approach may not be objective therefore open to bias. for e.g.  in Rosenhan's field experiment, which used participant observation, where the pseudo-patients' own biases may have affected the type of information they recorded. Also Rosenhan himself participated in the experiment which affects his objectivity. 
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