Nomothetic and Idiographic

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  • Created by: Grace
  • Created on: 13-05-11 16:42

the idiographic approach and nomothetic approaches in Pyschology are often regarded as representing opposing and conflicting positions about how best to study people, especially intelligence and personality. However, the two may been seen as complementary, with both necercary to gain fuller understanding of human beings.

Allport (1937) - introduced the idiographic and nomothetic approaches, borrowing the terms from a philosopher called Windelband. Windleband distuinguished between natural sciences and moral sciences, argueing that the humanities, social science and pyschology are moral sciences.


This approach focuses on "the individual and recognises the uniqueness of the person in terms of their experiences, feelings, developmental history, aspirations and motivations in life, and the values and moral code by which they live.".

Following on, the idiographic approach in pyschology is concerned with the private, subjective and unique aspects of a person and employs methods of inquiry which provides information about subjective experiences.

Most commonly, the idiographic approach is chracterised by qualatitive methods of investigation such as questionnaires, case studies, counselling sessions and interviews. Qualatitive methods are desgined to derive rich and meaningful results from research.

The idiographic approach is HOLISTIC. This means that the approach places great value on the individual's conscious expereinces by looking at an individual as a whole. the aim is to study the whole person, instead of breaking down the person into parts such as a person's brain function.

the idiographic approach cannot be studied empirically, or scientifically.

Examples of the idiographic approach in pyschology

The humanistic appoach in pyschology best exemplifies this approach because humanists place great value in people as wholes, and respect that people are unique and complex, and so must be studied in that fashion.

Signmeund Frued also was said to adopt an idiographic approach when it came to his research.

The famous case study Genie was a study on the effects of privation on humans. genie was a young girl who was discovered in a dark room, and had remained there since birth.

Strengths of the idiographic approach

- Focuses on the subjective expereinces of the person making the individual feel valued and unique. Each person is valued as an individual rather than seen as one amongst many.

- Provides detailed pyschohistories and attempts to understand the…


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