Psychology often makes generalisations about people. Depending upon your point of view this can be seen as a great strength of psychology or a weakness or probably both.
It is important that we recognise that there are as many differences between people as there are similarities
There has been a tendency in psychology to ignore the experiences of people from different cultures. Two of the studies in this section attempt to explore the experiences of Black people within the Western world.
The first study by Gould (1982) is a review of the use of IQ testing. Gould demonstrates how psychological arguments have been used to support racist arguments of White superiority.
The study by Hraba and Grant (1970) investigates the identity of American Black children. Their study demonstrates that there has been a change in consciousness of Black children from 20 years previously.
A further issue that is often included in the section of individual differences is what psychologists refer to as abnormality. However the concept of abnormality is also a highly controversial issue. The judgement that somebody is abnormal is relative and is based on factors such as culture, class, religion, sexuality and so on.
The study by Rosenhan (1973) challenges the ability of professionals to classify abnormality. The study by Thigpen and Cleckley (1954) also illustrates the controversy of diagnosing multiple personality.
be able to describe
and evaluate the individual differences approach in psychology;
knowledge of some cultural variations in behaviour and experience;
be able to evaluate
the psychometric approach;
consider the issues
in the construction and application of psychometric tests;
ethnocentric nature of Western psychology;
difficulties involved in defining abnormality and normality;
practical, theoretical and ethical consequences of applying definitions of
explanations of mental disturbance have arisen from more than one
be able to evaluate
attempts to gather empirical evidence on cases of mental and behavioural
implications of research in the psychology of individual differences.
GOULD, S. J. (1982)
A Nation of Morons.
HRABA, J. & GRANT, G.
is Beautiful: A
Re-examination of Racial Preference and Identification.
ROSENHAN, D. L. (1973)
On being sane in insane places
THIGPEN, C. & CLECKLEY, H.
A case of multiple
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