Nomothetic and Idiographic (Examples of the nomothetic approach…
Nomothetic and Idiographic
The idiographic approach attempts to describe the nature of the individual. People are studies as unique entities, each with their own subjective experiences, motivations and values. there may be no attempt made to compare these to a larger group, standard or norm.
The approach is generally associated with methods that produce qualitative data, such as case studies, unstructured interviews and other self report measures.
This reflects one of the central aims of idiographic research: to describe the richness of human experience and gain insight into the person's unique way of viewing the world.
The nomothetic approach aims to produce general laws of human behaviour, which provide a benchmark, to which people can be compared, classified and measured, on the basis of which likely future behaviour can be be predicted and/or controlled
The approach is associated with with methods that are considered scientific, such as experiments. These involve the study of large numbers of people in order to establish ways in which people are different from one another.
Examples of the idiographic approach
Carried out the study of human beings and were only interested in documenting the conscious experience of the individual or self.
Patient KF - A case study was used in order to research into the working memory model
Freud conducted detailed investigations into the lives of his patients in attempt to understand and help them overcome psychological disorders
While he did try to produce generalisations from these case studies, each persons psychological disorders derived from their unique childhood experiences
Examples of the nomothetic approach
They take a nomothetic approach when explaining disorders like OCD and depression
They typically pinpoint biological factors like neurotransmitters that are responsible for disorders and use biological therapies to treat every patient
Conducted experiments with animals to establish laws of learning that can then be generalised to humans and non-human animals
Atkinson and Shiffrin, developed general laws like the Multi-Store Model of Memory
Milgram and Asch, used a nomothetic approach to create general conclusions about human behaviour. E.g. that situational factors are responsible for obedience and conformity
Classification manuals like the DSM and ICD take a nomothetic approach to classify disorders based on specific symptoms