Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Download this course

Share this free course

Critically exploring psychology
Critically exploring psychology

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

1.5 Individual differences

This final area of psychology takes a slightly different approach to the others presented so far in Section 1 and represents a curious status as a discipline in psychology. In much of psychology, we are interested in how people are similar to one another: how is memory structured, how do people behave in groups, how does understanding of language develop? However, there are many ways in which individuals differ from each other: intelligence, personality, mood and motivation, to name but a few.

Research in many areas of psychology looks at groups of participants. However, this final area, looks at the systematic investigation of individual differences in research. This includes personality, intelligence and attitudes.

People’s faces in individual boxes appearing as if profile pictures for an online conference
Figure 5 The differences, rather than similarities, between individuals is looked at in this area of psychology

From reading about these five areas of psychology, it might become clear that psychological research is sometimes qualitative (uses text-based data) and sometimes quantitative (uses numbers). One way is not better than the other, but is determined by good critical evaluation of the questions, what do I want to achieve and why? In the following sections you will start to understand how to ask the right questions in order to determine how research could be carried out.