Individual Differences

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Intro: traditional studies of individual differences have been treated separately but contemporary theories have integrated approaches to explain behaviour and recent research has developed a more sophisticated concept that both internal (people) and external (situations) are important.

Intelligence

Traditional models of cognitive ability
Idea some people are better at processing information than others: the result of differences in opportunities to learn or due to genetics. Time into understanding/measuring cognitive ability invested: grown tests to assess cognitive levels that must be run under standardised conditions all of which are evolved through a highly technical process. The standarisation of tests mean that, in theory, everyone’s given the same opportunity to perform but it also means the approach cannot assess people on their capacity to conduct everyday, real-life tasks. Early 20th century Binet and Simon developed the first satisfactory test of human intelligence: considered intelligence could be measured by assessing a person’s ability to answer a selected group of questions. Though modern tests differ from questions used by Binet and Simon the principle of sampling behaviour on a selected set of tasks is still at the core. By sampling there’s a risk of drawing false conclusions about a person and scores alone aren’t enough. So before a decision about a child is taken, other types of assessment should also be made.

Testing
Defining intelligence is difficult: most will settle for the definition by Boring 1923 ‘intelligence is what intelligence tests measure’.

Tests of intelligence designed to examine innate ability of people to carry out mental operations. The various tests (spearman labeled ‘g’) are all interrelated with people obtaining similar scores. Thus g is a quality than can be measured reliably with some precision. Evidence to indicate g determines performance across different job roles. A widely used test of g requiring minimal special experience is Ravens progressive matrices. However specific ability tends to predict performance when they are matched to the demands of the job role.

Tests have been criticised:
Don’t measure pure underlying intelligence but a mixture of it and taught knowledge (crystallized intelligence) In the personal selection context they are biased in favour of ethnic groups. The argument of cultural bias asserts that the intellectual development that takes place naturally is dependent on the specific environmental and cultural background in which a person develops. This means perfectly bright people from certain socio-economic backgrounds will fail to develop the normal qualities assessed in the tests and will be labeled unintelligent.

The criticism intelligence tests are biased is based on the replicated research finding ethnic minority groups obtain lower scores on cognitive tests than whites (Sackett 2008). Despite these subgroup differences, the prevailing view is that it’s not unfair to use such tests for selection decision-making.

Systems model of intelligence
These models expand concepts core to intelligence to include concepts other than cognitive abilities. 3 specific theories have become widespread:

Gardeners multiple intelligences
Argued that there’s more than a single, general factor of intelligence. Proposed 7 types of intelligence – linguistic, spatial, musical, logical, bodily kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal Each intelligences is derived from gardeners subjective classification of human abilities based on a set of scientific criteria e.g. evidence some individuals perform poorly on IQ tests, yet demonstrate exceptional talent in other domains such as music Also argues each intelligences rarely operate independently balancing one another as individuals develop skills/solve problems.

Criticised: its subjective, and incompatible with well-established concept of g and likely environmental impacts. Gardner has...
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