Individual Differences Psychology
Perhaps the first task of every teacher in a class should be to know and study individual differences among his pupils. Individual differences in bodily appearance and physique, habits and skills, interests and temperaments, abilities and attainments have already been recognised.
According to Skinner, “Today we think of individual differences as including any measurable aspect of the total personality.” It is clear from this definition of individual differences that it comprehends every aspect of human personality which is in some manner measurable.
Types of Individual Differences:
1. Physical differences:
Shortness or tallness of stature, darkness or fairness of complexion, fatness, thinness, or weakness are various physical individual differences.
2. Differences in intelligence:
There are differences in intelligence level among different individuals. We can classify the individuals from super-normal (above 120 I.Q.) to idiots (from 0 to 50 I.Q.) on the basis of their intelligence level.
3. Differences in attitudes:
Individuals differ in their attitudes towards different people, objects, institutions and authority.
4. Differences in achievement:
It has been found through achievement tests that individuals differ in their achievement abilities. These differences are very much visible in reading, writing and in learning mathematics.
These differences in achievement are even visible among the children who are at the same level of intelligence. These differences are on account of the differences in the various factors of intelligence and the differences in the various experiences, interests and educational background.
5. Differences in motor ability:
There are differences in motor ability. These differences are visible at different ages. Some people can perform mechanical tasks easily, while others, even though they are at the same level, feel much difficulty in performing these tasks.
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6. Differences on account of sex:
McNemar and Terman discovered the following differences between men and women, on the basis of some studies:
(i) Women have greater skill in memory while men have greater motor ability.
(ii) Handwriting of women is superior while men excel in mathematics and logic.
(iii) Women show greater skill in making sensory distinctions of taste, touch and smell etc., while men show greater reaction and conscious of size- weight illusion.
(iv) Women are superior to men in languages, while men are superior in physics and chemistry.
(v) Women are better than men in mirror drawing. Faults of speech etc. in men were found to be three times of such faults in women.
(vi) Women are more susceptible to suggestion while there are three times as many colour blind men as there are women.
(vii) Young girls take interest in stories of love, fairy tales, stories of the school and home and day-dreaming and show various levels in their play. On the other hand boys take interest in stories of bravery, science, war, scouting, stories of games and sports, stories and games of occupation and skill.
7. Racial differences:
There are different kinds of racial differences. Differences of environment is a normal factor in causing these differences. Karl Brigham has composed a list on the basis of differences in levels of intelligence among people who have migrated to United States from other countries.
On the basis of these average differences between the races, the mental age of a particular individual cannot be calculated since this difference is based on environment.
8. Differences due to nationality:
Individuals of different nations differ in respect of physical and mental differences, interests and personality etc. ‘Russians are tall and stout’; ‘Ceylonese are short and slim’; ‘Germans have no sense of humour’; ‘Yellow races are cruel and revengeful’; ‘Americans are hearty and frank’; Indians are timid and peace-loving’ and the like observations enter into our common talk.
9. Differences due to economic status:
Differences in children’s interests, tendencies and character are caused by economic differences.
10. Differences in interests:
Factors such as sex, family background level of development, differences of race and nationality etc., cause differences in interests.
11. Emotional differences:
Individuals differ in their emotional reactions to a particular situation. Some are irritable and aggressive and they get angry very soon. There are others who are of peaceful nature and do not get angry easily. At a particular thing an individual may be so much enraged that he may be prepared for the worst crime like murder, while another person may only laugh at it.
12. Personality differences:
There are differences in respect of personality. On the basis of differences in personality, individuals have been classified into many groups.