Psychology: Individual Differences: Nature and Assessing of Individual Differences

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In Psychology individual differences refers to the extent of similarities and differences among people on some of important psychological aspects such as intelligence, personality, interest and aptitude.

Nature of Individual Differences

The differences in psychological characteristics are often consistent and form a stable pattern. People tend to show regularity in their behavior and their patterns of behavior do not change very frequently. People develop their unique traits/ characteristics and pattern of behavior due to their genetic makeup and their environment in which they are brought up.

Assessing Individual Differences

Psychological assessment refers to the use of specific procedures for evaluating personal qualities, behavior and abilities of individuals. Psychologists have developed ‘tests’ to assess these characteristics. A psychological test is structured technique used to generate a carefully selected sample of behavior. A test is reliable if it measures a given characteristics consistently. The validity of a test refers to the degree to which it assesses what it intends to assess. Finally, in order to use the test should be standardized.

Nature of Intelligence and Its Assessment

  • One of the earliest definition was given by Binet and Simon (1905) defines intelligence as “ability to judge well, to understand well and to reason well”. Most popular definition was given by Weschler who defined it as “the aggregate or global capacity of the individual to act purposefully, to think rationally, and to deal effectively with the environment”. Gardner used the term multiple intelligence- linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, musical, body-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal and naturalistic.

  • The first attempt to measure intelligence was made by Sir Francis Galton and more systematic approach was done by Alfred Binet. Binet gave the concept of mental age (MA) which refers to individual’s level of mental development. The term Intelligence Quotient (IQ) was first devised by William Stern, a German psychologist, in 1912. IQ is defined as mental age divided by chronological age and multiplied by 100: (IQ = MA/CA × 100). Some of the most popular scales are Weschler adult intelligence scale (WAIS) and Weschler Intelligence scale for Children (WISC).

Aptitude and Interests and Their Assessment

An aptitude is a combination of characteristics that indicates an individual’s capacity to acquire some specific knowledge or skill. Aptitude tests are used for predicting success in vocation. Several multiple aptitude batteries are developed to assess aptitude. Examples are differential aptitude test (DAT), General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB) and Armed services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).

Nature of Personality

  • Allport (1937) gave the most popular definition of personality which defines personality as “the dynamic organization within the individual of those psychosocial systems that determine his unique adjustment to his environment”.

  • Psychologists have approached personality from different perspective. Some of the perspective are Trait perspective, Psychodynamic, socio-cultural and humanistic perspective

Techniques of Assessment of Personality

Assessment of Personality

Assessment of Personality

  • Objective measures of personality- The person is asked to report about himself on a set of statements. The widely used personality measures are NEOPI-R, 16PF, Bell adjustment inventory.

  • Projective measure of personality- The person is asked to respond to unambiguous or unstructured stimuli. The widely used measures are Rorschach Inkblot test, Thematic appreciation test and Rotter incomplete sentence blank test.

  • Situational or observation measure of personality- It is a technique to assess personality by observing behavior of individual in purposefully designed situation.

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