What is it about?

Leading scholars from biological, physiological, genetic, psychiatric, medical and psychological fields criticise the shortcomings of methods currently popular in psychology, such as standardised assessment methods (e.g., rating scales) and methods of linear statistical analyses (e.g., factor analysis, regression analysis, structural equation modelling). They discuss alternative methods established in other fields that allow to explore the complexity of individuals and to model the nonlinear process dynamics occurring in individuals' functioning and development.

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Why is it important?

Popular psychological models of individual differences were derived from everyday language (e.g., Big Five Model of human personality) and application of statistical models that suit only the peculiarities of human language, but not the peculiarities of biological systems. Therefore, these popular models do not adequately reflect how individuals actually differ and therefore do not allow to explore psychobiological factors underlying of individual differences. Scholars from various sciences reflect on current findings and highlight new pathways of conceptual and methodical development.


Psychology must get beyond the borders in thinking and analysing that arise from the establishment of particular methods as the field's standard methods. New approaches and methods are needed that match the non-linear dynamics and complexity of individuals and their lives.

Dr Jana Uher
University of Greenwich

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Diversity in action: exchange of perspectives and reflections on taxonomies of individual differences, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences, February 2018, Royal Society Publishing, DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2017.0172.
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