Idiographic versus nomothetic approaches to psychology Essay
Idiographic versus nomothetic approaches to psychology
The approach of investigating large groups of people in order to find general laws of behaviour that apply to everyone Nomos= laws in ancient Greek; this approach assumes that an individual is a complex combination of many universal laws; it is best to study people on a large scale. Quantitative Experimental methods are best to identify the universal laws governing behaviour.
The individual will be classified with others and measured as a score upon a dimension, or be a statistic supporting a general principle (‘averaging’). The nomothetic approach is the main approach within scientifically oriented psychology. • Behaviourism: experiments with animals (rats, cats and pigeons) _establish laws of learning (B.F. Skinner e.g.). • Social psychology: Milgram e.g. used the nomothetic approach and made general conclusions on the basis of his research.