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THE INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES APPROACH IN PSYCHOLOGY. We are not all the same. Lots of research looks at the “typical” or “average” person But what about unusual people? Psychologists of individual differences study what makes people DIFFERENT. What makes us unique?. PERSONAL QUALITIES

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Presentation Transcript
we are not all the same
We are not all the same..
  • Lots of research looks at the “typical” or “average” person
  • But what about unusual people?
  • Psychologists of individual differences study what makes people DIFFERENT

Developmental Key Concepts

what makes us unique
What makes us unique?
  • PERSONAL QUALITIES
  • Personality
  • Intelligence
  • Moral values
  • Mental health
  • GROUP IDENTITIES
  • Race
  • Culture
  • Gender

Developmental Key Concepts

personality 1
Personality 1
  • In the Middle Ages, people were grouped by their “humours”
  • (mentioned in Shakespeare)
  • Humours = magical fluids that run through the body
  • Sanguine personalities had too much blood: they were OUTGOING & EXCITABLE

Developmental Key Concepts

personality 2
Personality 2
  • In the 20th century, WILLIAM SHELDON proposed idea of “somatotypes”
  • Somatotypes = body shapes
  • ENDOMORPHS  sociable
  • ECTOMORPHS  solitary
  • MESOMORPHS  risk-taking, dominant

Developmental Key Concepts

personality 3
Personality 3
  • Modern psychology is more interested in personality TRAITS
  • Traits = DISPOSITIONS we all share, but to varying degrees
  • The BIG FIVE
  • 1. Extraversion (outgoing)
  • 2. Neuroticism (moody)
  • 3. Agreeableness (nice)
  • 4. Conscientiousness (dependable)
  • 5. Openness to experience (flexible/imaginative)

Developmental Key Concepts

measuring personality 1
Measuring Personality 1
  • Self-reports
  • PSYCHOMETRIC TESTS
  • Questionnaires that give a SCORE to your mental characteristics
  • Eg personality quiz
  • Most famous is the EYSENCK PERSONALITY QUESTIONNAIRE (1975)
  • Measures Extraversion & Neuroticism

Developmental Key Concepts

measuring personality 2
Measuring Personality 2
  • PROJECTIVE TESTS
  • Activity which asks the respondent to be creative
  • Interprets hidden meaning in their response
  • Herman Rorschach created inkblot test
  • What can you see in the blot?

Developmental Key Concepts

criticising personality
Criticising Personality
  • Social psychologists say SITUATIONS are more important than dispositions
  • Behaviourists say personality is just a set of BEHAVIOURS we have learned
  • Is there a PERSONALITY that stays the same in all situations?
  • Can we have MULTIPLE PERSONALITIES?

Developmental Key Concepts

core study thigpen cleckley 1954

Joanne Woodward got an Oscar for the film of the case study – The Three Faces of Eve (1957)

CORE STUDY: THIGPEN & CLECKLEY (1954)
  • “Eve White”, American housewife (25) treated for amnesia/depression using hypnosis
  • New personality appears! “Hello doc!”
  • Eve Black is EW’s opposite: fun-loving, sexy, destructive, amoral
  • Scores differently on psychometric & projective tests… different handwriting!
  • Later, 3rd personality (Jane) emerges
  • Doctors try to persuade EW & EB to “merge” with healthier Jane

Developmental Key Concepts

abnormal psychology 1
Abnormal Psychology 1
  • What is “madness”?
  • Before we can cure it, can we even define it?
  • In the UK, 1 in 6 adults is affected by mental distress at any one time
  • Anxiety & depression affect 9% of adults each year
  • Diagnoses are set out in DSM-IV (in USA) or ICD (in UK and elsewhere)

Developmental Key Concepts

schizophrenia 1
Schizophrenia 1
  • NOT the same as multiple personality disorder
  • Means “shattered mind”
  • Many different symptoms, not all sufferers have them all:
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations/hearing voices
  • Inappropriate emotions
  • Involuntary movements
  • No biological test for schizophrenia – only self-reports

Developmental Key Concepts

schizophrenia 2
Schizophrenia 2
  • Around 1% of population will suffer from schizophrenia
  • Between 2-4 in 1000 in any year
  • Similar for men/women – shows in late teens for men, but mid-thirties for women
  • Treated with anti-psychotic drugs…
  • … but they have side-effects (tremors, facial tics, etc)

Developmental Key Concepts

abnormality 2
Abnormality 2
  • Thomas Szasz (1960) wrote about the “myth of mental illness”
  • No such thing as “mental illness”
  • Illnesses have a biological defect and produce physical symptoms
  • Madness is unacceptable beliefs or problems in living!
  • Argues blaming it on “illness” like blaming on witches in 17th century

Developmental Key Concepts

hearing voices
Hearing Voices
  • Side effect of certain drugs (LSD, mescaline)
  • Commonly reported by bereaved people
  • Joan of Arc heard voices from age 12 – told her to wage war on the English!
  • English decided not God but the Devil – they burnt her
  • Voices often disturbing, but can be comforting or inspirational

Developmental Key Concepts

core study rosenhan 1973
CORE STUDY: ROSENHAN (1973)
  • David Rosenhan wanted to investigate if experts can diagnose mental illness
  • Sent 8 “pseudopatients” into mental hospitals saying they heard voices
  • All admitted with schizophrenia
  • How long would it take to get out?
  • Average 19 days
  • Staff interpreted ordinary behaviour as evidence of madness
  • STICKY LABELING

Developmental Key Concepts

addiction 1
Addiction 1
  • Is there an “addictive personality”?
  • How do addicts differ from normal (non-addicted) people?
  • BIOLOGICAL EXPLANATION
  • “Pleasure centres” in the brain
  • Genetic component?
  • Gene DRD2 appears in 42% of people with alcoholism
  • Also found in 25% of general population
  • May be a genetic link – but needs more explanation than this

Developmental Key Concepts

addiction 2
Addiction 2
  • BEHAVIOURAL EXPLANATION
  • We become addicted to behaviours, not just to substances
  • EG shopping, gambling, sex, work, fitness, World of Warcraft
  • SALIENCE – how important it is
  • EUPHORIA – pleasurable
  • TOLERANCE & WITHDRAWAL
  • CONFLICT & RELAPSE

Developmental Key Concepts

heuristics biases
Heuristics & Biases
  • Heuristics are “rules of thumb” that help us in our thinking
  • Cognitive strategies for solving problems
  • Willem Wagenaar proposed 16 heuristics, including:
  • ILLUSION OF CONTROL
  • Having “lucky numbers”, a “favourite” slot machine
  • FLEXIBLE ATTRIBUTIONS
  • Losses are “near misses”, successes due to own skill – good for self-esteem
  • FIX ON ABSOLUTE FREQUENCY
  • Count total winnings, not proportion of money spent

Developmental Key Concepts

core study griffiths 1994
CORE STUDY: GRIFFITHS (1994)
  • Explore thought processes of gamblers
  • 30 regular gamblers (RGs), 30 NRGs, recruited through adverts or personal contact
  • Given £3 stake on a fruit machine
  • Half asked to verbalise their thoughts
  • RGs played more games, lost more when they verbalised and made more irrational verbalisations
  • RGs believed own skill was factor in winning
  • Suggests cognitive therapy for gambling addicts

Developmental Key Concepts

generalisations
Generalisations
  • If you study unusual or extraordinary people, can you GENERALISE the results to others?
  • Is Eve White/Black typical of MPD (multiple personality disorder) sufferers?
  • Can you generalise from research on schizophrenia to ALL mental illness?
  • What do fruit machine addicts tell you about other sorts of gamblers? Or other sorts of addicts?
  • WHAT ABOUT ETHNOCENTRISM?
  • Talking to the dead is a coping strategy among West Indians – often misdiagnosed as schizophrenia by white doctors
  • Black people are 5% of UK population, but 25% of psychiatric patients are black…

Developmental Key Concepts