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Flashcards in idiographic/nomothetic Deck (10)
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Outline the idiographic/nomothetic approach?

The idiographic approach is a method in psychology which seeks to understand behaviour through studying individual cases. It emphasises the uniqueness of the individual and free will. Humanism takes the idiographic view.

The nomothetic view is a method in psychology which seeks to understand behaviour through developing genral laws that can be applied to large populations of people. It involves studying large numbers of people, and trying to undertnad why people act in similar ways in similar situations. Behaviourism takes the nomothetic view.


What methods of investigation does the idiographic approach use?

To study subjective experiences, beliefs and values, individuals are tested in a detailed, qualitative way.

* Case studies - provide a complete understanding of the studied individual
* Unstructured interviews
* Self Report
* Autobiographies, diaries, letters
* (APP) psychoanalysis - free association and dream analysis

Doesn't exclude numerical measurement, but the main form of data is descriptive.


What are the three kinds of general laws?

3 types of general laws...

* Classifying people into various groups - classification is based on symptoms, eg) (APP) schizophrenia in the DSM-IV

* Establishing principles of behaviour that can be applied to people in general - eg) (APP) findings from conformity and obedience studies in social psychology apply to all.

* Establishing dimensions to place and compare people - eg) IQ scales measure intelligence, can then compare people


What methods of investigation does the nomothetic approach use?

Scientific and quantitative experiments > theories generate a hypothesis > hypothesis tested under controlled experimental conditions.

findings provided by large numbers of people > numerical data of group averages are produced > statistically analysed > predictions made about people in general.


Give an example of nomothetic research (Schuckit) ?

Male participants categorised as 'high risk' or 'low risk' for becoming an alcoholic, depending close relatives who were. Given a placebo or non-alcoholic drink. After an hour, 'high risk' participants who had an alcoholic drink gave lower rating of drunkenness than 'low risk' participants.

This shows that heredity affects alcohol abuse, as those who were genetically prone to becoming alcoholics had an impaired ability to perceive the affects of alcohol early enough to stop drinking.


Evaluation of Schuckit Study?

* Controlled conditions - matched pairs design meant participants were matched on important variables (age, amount of alcohol consumed per week) and a placebo was used.

* Tested as teens/young adults so hadn't developed alcoholism yet.

* Findings can be statistically analysed and generalised to other 'high-low risk' people.


Strengths of Idiographic?

* provides a complete and gloabal understanding of the individual, eg) (APP) case study of Little Hans provides detailed accounts of origin and development of his unconscious fear.

*findings serve as a source for idea or hypothesis of a later study, 'the single pebble which starts an avalanche'. For example, (APP) Piaget's findings after studying his own children inspired him to further his research into cognitive development.


Limitations of Idiographic?

* Cannot generalise to a wider population. (APP) criticise Freud who used case studies, but argued his tripartite personality theory could be applied to everyone.

* methods of investigation are subjective, falsifiable and unstandardized, making replication and predictions very difficult.


Strengths of nomothetic?

* In tune with scientific psychology. Emphasis on precise measurement, prediction, and control of behaviour. Large groups of people are used. Objective methods allow for replication and generalisation.


Limitations of nomothetic?

* predictions may not apply to one individual's behaviour, and therefore loses sight of the 'whole person'.

* Reductionism