Differential Psychology

Home / Psychology 1A / Differential Psychology

Differential Psychology

Differential Psychology – the psychology of individual differences – describes and explains how and why people differ from each other psychologically. In other words, it is interested in what makes us individuals. The two main topics in differential psychology are personality and intelligence. Differential psychologists also study moods, attitudes, and people’s interests. They study the development of intelligence and personality in children and adults, and how these change with age. This includes the contribution of genetics and environments to differences in intelligence and personality. Differential psychologists are also interested in how intelligence and personality are associated with real life outcomes, such as health, work, and education. These introductory lectures introduce the concepts of personality and intelligence, summarise the history of these topics in psychology, and present findings to demonstrate the current scientific state of the fields. The Psychology Department at the University of Edinburgh contains the largest group of differential psychologists in the United Kingdom:


Lecture No 4
Differential Psychology
What Differential Psychologists study; importance of measuring well; the concept of variance
David Hume Tower, Lecture Theatre A
24/09/2018 - 11:10am to 12:00pm
Lecture No 5
Differential Psychology
Methods of study used; sampling; importance of understanding development
David Hume Tower, Lecture Theatre A
26/09/2018 - 11:10am to 12:00pm
Lecture No 6
Introduction to Genetic Influences on Behaviour
Pervasiveness; implications; basis of evidence; heritability and 'environmentality'
David Hume Tower, Lecture Theatre A
28/09/2018 - 11:10am to 12:00pm
Lecture No 7
Understanding Intelligence
Assessment; life-course stability; associations with outcomes; genetic and environmental transactions; Flynn Effect
David Hume Tower, Lecture Theatre A
01/10/2018 - 11:10am to 12:00pm
Lecture No 8
Understanding Personality
Trait theories; factor models; Five-Factor model; associations with outcomes; underlying processes
David Hume Tower, Lecture Theatre A
03/10/2018 - 11:10am to 12:00pm
Lecture No 9
Integrating Semester 1 and Preparing for Semester 2
Individual differences in brain biology, perception, and learning; their contributions to intelligence and personality; individual differences in development, social interaction and relationships, memory, use of language
David Hume Tower, Lecture Theatre A
05/10/2018 - 11:10am to 12:00pm
Learning Outcomes: 

By the end of this section, students should be able to:

  • Understand the material in the lectures and the associated readings.
  • Understand key psychological approaches to personality and evaluate them.
  • Outline the types of research methods used in different approaches to personality.
  • Summarise some relevant studies in personality.
  • Understand the various models of intelligence differences that have been suggested.
  • Outline the types of research methods used in intelligence.
  • Summarise some findings with respect to causes and consequences of intelligence.

Schacter, D. et al. Psychology, Second European Edition (2016). Psychology. Chapters 9 and 13.