variations in psychological · pdf filevariations in psychological attributes introduction...

Click here to load reader

Post on 21-May-2018




0 download

Embed Size (px)



    IntroductionIndividual Differences in Human FunctioningAssessment of Psychological AttributesIntelligenceTheories of Intelligence

    Theory of Multiple IntelligencesTriarchic Theory of IntelligencePlanning, Attention-arousal, and Simultaneous- successive Model of Intelligence

    Individual Differences in IntelligenceVariations of IntelligenceSome Misuses of Intelligence Tests (Box 1.1)

    Culture and IntelligenceEmotional Intelligence

    Characteristics of Emotionally IntelligentPersons (Box 1.2)

    Special AbilitiesAptitude : Nature and Measurement



    Key TermsSummaryReview QuestionsProject IdeasWeblinksPedagogical Hints

    After reading this chapter, you would be able to:understand psychological attributes on which people differ from each other,learn about different methods that are used to assess psychological attributes,explain what constitutes intelligent behaviour,learn how psychologists assess intelligence to identify mentally challengedand gifted individuals,understand how intelligence has different meaning in different cultures, andunderstand the difference between intelligence and aptitude.

  • Psychology2

    exemplifies a typical combination ofvarious traits. The question which you maylike to pose is how and why people differ.This, in fact, is the subject matter of thestudy of individual differences. Forpsychologists, individual differences refer todistinctiveness and variations amongpeoples characteristics and behaviourpatterns.

    While many psychologists believe thatour behaviours are influenced by ourpersonal traits, some others hold the viewthat our behaviours are influenced more bysituational factors. This latter view isknown as situationism, which states thatsituations and circumstances in which oneis placed influence ones behaviour. Aperson, who is generally aggressive, maybehave in a submissive manner in thepresence of her/his top boss. Sometimes,the situational influences are so powerfulthat individuals with differing personalitytraits respond to them in almost the sameways. The situationist perspective viewshuman behaviour as resulting frominteraction of external and internal factors.


    Individual variations are common withinand across all species. Variations addcolour and beauty to nature. For amoment, think of a world around youwhere each and every object is of the samecolour, say red or blue or green. How wouldthe world appear to you? Certainly not abeautiful one! Would you prefer to live insuch a world? In all likelihood, youranswer will be no. Like objects, people toopossess different combinations of traits.

    Variability is a fact of nature, andindividuals are no exception to this. Theyvary in terms of physical characteristics,such as height, weight, strength, haircolour, and so on. They also vary alongpsychological dimensions. They may beintelligent or dull, dominant or submissive,creative or not so creative, outgoing orwithdrawn, etc. The list of variations canbe endless. Different traits can exist invarying degrees in an individual. In thissense, each one of us is unique as s/he

    If you observe your friends, classmates or relatives, you will find how theydiffer from each other in the manner they perceive, learn, and think, asalso in their performance on various tasks. Such individual differences canbe noticed in every walk of life. That people differ from one another is obvious.In Class XI, you have learnt about psychological principles that are appliedto understand human behaviour. We also need to know how people differ,what brings about these differences, and how such differences can beassessed. You will recall how one of the main concerns of modern psychologyhas been the study of individual differences from the time of Galton. Thischapter will introduce you to some of the fundamentals of individualdifferences.

    One of the most popular psychological attributes which has been ofinterest to psychologists is Intelligence. People differ from each other intheir ability to understand complex ideas, adapt to environment, learn fromexperience, engage in various forms of reasoning, and to overcome obstacles.In this chapter, you will study the nature of intelligence, changing definitionsof intelligence, cultural differences in intelligence, range and variations inthe intellectual competencies of people, and the nature of special abilitiesor aptitudes.


  • Chapter 1 Variations in Psychological Attributes 3


    Psychological attributes are involved invery simple phenomena like in time takento react to a stimulus, i.e. reaction time,and also in highly global concepts likehappiness. It is difficult to count andspecify the number of psychologicalattributes that can be assessed.Assessment is the first step inunderstanding a psychological attribute.Assessment refers to the measurement ofpsychological attributes of individuals andtheir evaluation, often using multiplemethods in terms of certain standards ofcomparison. Any attribute will be said toexist in a person only if it can be measuredby using scientific procedures. Forexample, when we say, Harish isdominant, we are referring to the degreeof dominance in Harish. This statement isbased on our own assessment ofdominance in him. Our assessment maybe informal or formal. Formal assessmentis objective, standardised, and organised.On the other hand, informal assessmentvaries from case to case and from oneassessor to another and, therefore, is opento subjective interpretations. Psychologistsare trained in making formal assessmentof psychological attributes.

    Once assessment is done, we can usethis information to predict how Harish willprobably behave in future. We may predictthat Harish, if given a chance to lead ateam, will most likely be an authoritarianleader. If the predicted consequence is notwhat we want, we may want to interveneto effect a change in Harishs behaviour.The attribute chosen for assessmentdepends upon our purpose. In order tohelp a weak student perform well inexaminations, we may assess her/hisintellectual strengths and weaknesses. If aperson fails to adjust with members of her/

    his family and neighbourhood, we mayconsider assessing her/his personalitycharacteristics. For a poorly motivatedperson, we may assess her/his interestsand preferences. Psychological assessmentuses systematic testing procedures toevaluate abilities, behaviours, and personalqualities of individuals.

    Some Domains of PsychologicalAttributes

    Psychological attributes are not linear orunidimensional. They are complex andexpressed in terms of dimensions. A lineis a mere aggregate of many points. A pointoccupies no space. But think of a box. Itoccupies space. It can be described only interms of its three dimensions, i.e. length,width, and height. Similar is the case withpsychological attributes. They are usuallymulti-dimensional. If you want to have acomplete assessment of a person, you willneed to assess how s/he functions invarious domains or areas, such ascognitive, emotional, social, etc.

    We will discuss in this chapter someimportant attributes that are of interest topsychologists. These attributes arecategorised on the basis of varieties of testsused in psychological literature.1. Intelligence is the global capacity to

    understand the world, think rationally,and use available resources effectivelywhen faced with challenges. Intelligencetests provide a global measure of apersons general cognitive competenceincluding the ability to profit fromschooling. Generally, students havinglow intelligence are not likely to do sowell in school-related examinations, buttheir success in life is not associatedonly with their intelligence test scores.

    2. Aptitude refers to an individualsunderlying potential for acquiring skills.Aptitude tests are used to predict whatan individual will be able to do if given

  • Psychology4

    proper environment and training. Aperson with high mechanical aptitudecan profit from appropriate training andcan do well as an engineer. Similarly,a person having high language aptitudecan be trained to be a good writer.

    3. Interest is an individuals preference forengaging in one or more specificactivities relative to others. Assessmentof interests of students may help todecide what subjects or courses theycan pursue comfortably and withpleasure. Knowledge of interests helpsus in making choices that promote lifesatisfaction and performance on jobs.

    4. Personality refers to relatively enduringcharacteristics of a person that makeher or him distinct from others.Personality tests try to assess anindividuals unique characteristics, e.g.whether one is dominant or submissive,outgoing or withdrawn, moody oremotionally stable, etc. Personalityassessment helps us to explain anindividuals behaviour and predict howshe/he will behave in future.

    5. Values are enduring beliefs about anideal mode of behaviour. A personhaving a value sets a standard forguiding her/his actions in life and alsofor judging others. In value assessment,we try to determine the dominantvalues of a person (e.g., political,religious, social or economic).

    Assessment Methods

    Several methods are used for psychologicalassessment. You have learnt about someof these methods in Class XI. Let us recalltheir key features. Psychological Test is an objective

    and standardised measure of anindividuals mental and/or behaviouralcharacteristics. Objective tests havebeen developed to measure all thedimensions of psychological attributes(e.g., intelligence, aptitude, etc.)described above. These tests a