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Compare and contrast idiographic and nomothetic approaches to the study of Personality.

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Metropolitan University Module Title: Personality and Social Psychology Module Code: PY1003C Compare and contrast idiographic and nomothetic approaches to the study of Personality. Michaela Strasikova Student number: 05048325 Number of words: 1021 The concept of personality is needed in psychology. There are many definitions and expressions of personality. Allport, 1961 identified it as: 'Personality is the dynamic organization, within the person, of psychophysical systems that create the person's characteristic patterns of behaviour, thoughts and feeling'. Prince, 1924 described personality as 'the sum of all the biological innate disposition, impulses, tendencies, appetites and instinct of the individual and the acquired dispositions and tendencies - acquired by experience'. Funder, 2004 understood this concept as follows: 'Personality refers to and individual's characteristic patterns of thought, emotion and behaviour together with the psychological mechanism - hidden or not - behind those patterns.' Nowadays, we can find two kinds of psychology concerned with personality, which are clinical psychology and academic psychology. Both of them have a crucial value for understanding of personality. Clinical psychology is concentrated on the issues that a person as an individual faces when he or she is not able to deal with the problems and sorrows of daily life. ...read more.


The findings are not applicable to the non-clinical population. The measurement of the nomothetic approach is more valid, precise and reliable. The findings are more objective than in idiographic methods and it is possible to use them in a new study. The aim of this theory is to find what is normal in a group of people. The methods are possibly applicable to all people. The investigation is not depth, but very superficial. It is not really possible to define the unconscious processes. We are aware of 6 paradigms that guide personality research. These are: 1.) Psychodynamic theories - a presumption that an individual's personality is motivated by unconscious emotions, which occurred already in childhood and these are commonly unpleasant and negative. Psychodynamic theories use the idiographic methods. The representatives of those theories are Sigmund Freud, Jung, Adler, Anna Freud and Erikson. 2.) Humanistic theories - study how the positive and healthy personality can reach self-actualisation and individual happiness. A case study approach is used in this research method. The main theories are Maslow, Rogers and Kelly. 3.) Trait theories - inform how the combination of personality characteristics, which are called traits, can affect the behaviour of people. ...read more.


These are clinical studies that record an abnormal personality. The second method is case studies, which research the individual. Another method such as self report and questionnaires are directed towards the general population. Observation and twin and adoption studies also help us to develop and further research personality theories. A variety of techniques have been used to explore the idiographic approach. For instance, the respondents are asked to provide 20 answers to the question 'who are you?' (Bugental and Zelen, 1950) or to complete the expression such as 'I am ...' or 'The person I would like to be ...' (Smith, 1992). The typical example of the measure method of nomothetic approach is a questionnaire, which researches who is more anxious and who is less anxious and the consequences of anxiety in the influence of life satisfaction and career choice. The aim of this work is not to find out if the idiographic approach is better or worse than with the nomothetic approach. They are just used within different purposes. So put simply, the idiographic approach points out that every single person has got a unique psychological structure and that some characterictics are possessed by only one person. In contrast, the nomothetic approach emphasizes a person such as sets of dimensions that have the psychological meaning in everyone. ...read more.

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The essay is rather disjointed with a lack of structure. Although the writer has covered the different types of therapies there is no clear connection between what is written and the essay title. It would be advisable to start with some clear definitions of what idiographic and nomothetic approaches mean. Then the writer could go on to explain in more detail how research is carried out with regard these approaches. Theories on personality need to be discussed in relation to all the above to answer the essay title. This would improve the flow of the essay.

Marked by teacher Linda Penn 29/03/2013

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