Week 1 - Research Methods: Idiographic Flashcards Preview

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Kluckholm & Murray (1948)

Observed that every person is in certain respects like ALL others, like SOME others, NO other.

--> all (human nature) & some (individual & group differences) = nomothetic --> Correlational & experimental research methods respectively
--> no (individual uniqueness) = idiographic --> case study


Human nature

Fundamental psychological characteristics that are typical of our species and possessed by nearly everyone, regardless of background, gender, culture, etc. (eg need to belong, love, sexual tension, etc).

Fundamental human trait

"Like all others"


Individual differences

Any psychological characteristic can be seen in a continuum. It is therefore possible to make generalisations about people at different points on the continuum. Eg agreeableness --> v.low = irritable & suspicious; v.high = helpful & trusting.

"Like Some others"


Group differences

Refer to ways in which the people of one group differ from people in another group eg sex differences. Eg physical aggression M higher than F.

Broad ways in which sim/diff (sex, culture, etc)

"Like some others"


Individual uniqueness

No two people ever have the same experiences (or for that matter the same genetic makeup) so it is always to some degree a distortion to see them in common terms, or even to classify them as varying along common dimensions such as agreeableness.

Seek balance between completeness & parsimony.

"Like no others"



*Means to seek or formulate laws (nomos = law; Thetic = to lay down)

*the nomothetic view emphasises generalisability across individuals and so encompasses individual and group differences (how we are like some others) as well as human nature (how we are like all others).

*The formal nomothetic methods are the experimental method and the Correlational method

Generalisations; understand the world.



*The description of one.

*Concerned with the level of the individual uniqueness (how we are like no other)

*Case study method & clinical contexts



Case study method

*Used to develop an in-develop description of an individual

*strengths: focus on uniqueness, provide in-depth knowledge, may be only practical way to study certain rare phenomena, formulate general insights into human conduct for future research (Freud, Jung, Adler, Erikson, Kelly, & Rogers)

*Limitations: most limited (confirmatory bias, can't generalise or large number of research q), post hoc data to study/ignore, small sample size and non-numerical, no way to establish if data is representative of some larger population, overemphasis particular period or specific life events (critical period fallacy or eventism).

Can never be used as source for providing support for generalisations only as generating hypotheses.


Research methods

3 major methods: case study (idiographic), Correlational, & experimental (both nomothetic)