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 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.