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Their::study    Groups::differ    Programs::research    Control::which    Therapy::factors    Group::response

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Differential psychology studies the ways in which individuals differ in their behavior and the processes that underlie it. This is distinguished from other aspects of psychology in that although psychology is ostensibly a study of individuals, modern psychologists often study groups or biological underpinnings of cognition.

For example, in evaluating the effectiveness of a new therapy, the mean performance of the therapy in one treatment group might be compared to the mean effectiveness of a placebo (or a well-known therapy) in a second, control group. In this context, differences between individuals in their reaction to the experimental and control manipulations are actually treated as errors rather than as interesting phenomena to study.

This is because psychological research depends upon statistical controls that are only defined upon groups of people. Individual difference psychologists usually express their interest in individuals while studying groups by seeking dimensions shared by all individuals but upon which individuals differ.


Differential psychology sections
Intro  Importance of individual differences  Areas of study  See also    References   Further reading  

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