Idiographic and Nomothetic Approaches


Idiographic and Nomothetic approaches

A key debate in psychology is whether the focus of study should be on individuals or people in a collective sense to make generalisations about human behaviour. 

The nomothetic approach

The aim of the nomothetic approach is to explain behaviour of masses. This approach formulates theories and laws to predict the behaviour of most people, and so uses methods that allow data collection from large groups. Research methods tend to be quantitative and experimental, as these methods allow large amounts of data to be analysed. Patterns are drawn from samples and used to make generalisations about human behaviour. 

Behaviourist and biological approaches are nomothetic. These approaches tend to develop laws (of learning or lateralisation, for example) and these laws are then generalised to the wider population.


  • Strength: This approach is arguably more useful than the idiographic approach as it allows us to explain and predict the behaviour of large groups of people.
  • Strength: It is also considered more scientific as it uses the…




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