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:
By the end of the course, students should be able to understand the above-described course content. They should also be ready to understand why measuring individual differences in these traits is important and to identify problems with some studies that do not do so. They should also understand the challenges pertaining to the research into individual differences.
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Lectures 29 and 30
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