Idiographic and nomothetic approaches (Issues and Debates Model Answers) (Paper 3 Model Answers)
What is a ‘nomothetic approach’? Suggest one limitation of a nomothetic approach. ( 2 marks)
A 'nomothetic approach' in psychology refers to an approach that aims to identify general principles and laws that apply to a large group of individuals. It focuses on uncovering universal patterns and establishing broad generalisations about human behaviour and cognition. The nomothetic approach seeks to identify commonalities and regularities among individuals and develop theories that can be applied across different contexts.
One limitation of a nomothetic approach is that it may overlook individual differences and uniqueness. By focusing on general principles, the nomothetic approach may neglect the variability and diversity that exists among individuals.
Which of the following best describes an idiographic approach in psychology? ( 1 mark)
Shade one box only.
Read the item and then answer the question that follows.
A prison psychologist used an idiographic approach to study offending. He asked two offenders to record their thoughts about their childhood and their offending behaviour in a journal over a period of four weeks.
Qualitative analysis of the journals showed that the offenders often thought about sad childhood events and believed that their childhood experiences had influenced their offending.
Findings from idiographic research like the study described above are often used as a basis for other investigations.
Explain how the researcher might develop the above investigation through taking a nomothetic approach. ( 6 marks)