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INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES AND TRAITS Individual differences refer to variations among individuals. It is true that human beings have a lot of similarities like the possession of two hands, two legs, eyes; ears etc but a lot of differences abound among individuals. There are remarkable differences in both physical structures, emotional reactions and psychological attributes, etc of individuals. Physically, some of us are tall while others are short. Some are dark complexioned, while others are fair complexioned. Some are even fat and tall while others are fat and short etc. Emotionally it is true that human beings react emotionally to similar situations such as joy, bitterness, frustration, sadness, happiness, success etc but the manner of doing this varies from one person to the other. Psychologically, we show qualitative and quantitative differences in our day to day activities.
• It is psychologically homicidal to cluster individuals as the same. This is because each individual is unique and the individual differs in many ways from another individual who had existed before him or her or who is existing at the same time with the individual. Hence, one of the wonders of the creation is the uniqueness of individuals. This makes it possible for one individual to do well in one task and not in another. Some people are very good in Mathematics but perform poorly in English. Others are proficient in English but not in Mathematics or Biology while others are good in almost all the subjects (the gifted child). Still some are not good in most of these subjects (the learning disabled child or the mentally retarded ones). Some are good at playing football; others are more suited for baseball etc. • Hence, individual difference refers to how individual differs or varies from one person to another. • It can also be defined as the uniqueness of organisms. • Individual difference refers to uniqueness of individuals in traits, model of adjustments, problem solving ability and ability to perform hard and simple tasks. Individual difference connotes the idea that people are different from one another perhaps in sex (gender), race, family background, learning, personality development, religious affiliations, economic status, cultural factors, etc.
There are two major dichotomous forms of individual differences namely: • Subtle differences versus Extreme differences • Intra and Inter individual differences. Subtle differences are closely knitted differences that are not easily identified or remarked. This occurs among people of the same race like the Chinese or among identical forms. Extreme differences are easily differentiated as they are remarkable differences. For example: A boy is easily differentiated from a girl or a black man from a white man. Inter individual differences are those differences that occur among two individuals such as in height or weight. Intra individual differences occur in the same individual. Intra individual differences are therefore those differences that are embedded in an individual himself. For example those differences that occur as the person moves from one stage of life to another such as from infancy to adolescence or adolescence to adulthood etc.
Area of Individual Differences among individuals have been noticed in the following areas: • Gender (Sex) differences • Socio Economic differences • Intellectual and Academic Differences • Physical Differences • Emotional or Psychological Differences • Physiological Differences • Factors Influencing Individual Differences • There are three factors responsible for the individual differences that exist between species, individuals and within individuals. These are: • The genetic condition, • The environmental condition, and • The phenotype condition.
Environmental Influences on Behaviour Environment influences individuals, both genetically and developmentally, via the information that is generated in that environment and transmitted into the minds of those individuals. Types of Environmental influences on Behaviour • Cultural • Social • Personal • Family • Situational Values are shared beliefs or group norms internalised by individuals
Norms are beliefs held by consensus of a group concerning the behaviour rules for individual members Socialisation The process by which people develop their values, motivation and habitual activity. What is culture? • A set of values , ideas and other meaningful symbols that help individuals communicate, interpret and evaluate as members of society • Provides people with a sense of identity and an understanding of acceptable behaviour within society.
Cultural Influence • Relationships • Values and norms • Beliefs and attitudes • Mental processes and learning • Work habits and practices • Sense of self and space • Communication and language • Dress and appearance • Food and feeding habits • Time and time consciousness
How is culture propagated? • Culture is learned – through imitation or by observing the process of reward and punishment in a society of members who adhere to or deviate from group norms. • Culture is inculcated through family, religion and schools • Culture rewards socially gratifying responses. When norms no longer provide gratification in a society, the norms are extinguished • Culture is adaptive
Social classes are stratified according to their relations in the production and acquisition of goods. Social status groups are stratified according to the principles of their consumption of goods as represented by their ‘style of life’ What determines social class? • Economic – occupation, income, wealth • Interaction – personal prestige, association, socialisation • Political – power, class consciousness, mobility • Pretenders to a social class are much more than people that fall in it.
Do social classes change? • Men inherit the class of their father. • Women can change class with marriage. Similarly women can lose status after divorce Personal Influence Personal influence, direct or indirect is one of the very best forms of persuasion. This is because the input from people with whom we can identify and relate can attain remarkable credibility. Family Influence Buying decisions of individuals may be heavily influenced by other members of the family or household
Social Influence Behaviour can also be influenced depending on social class What is social class? It is defined as relatively permanent and homogeneous divisions in a society into which individuals or families sharing similar values, lifestyles, interests and behaviour can be categorised Social stratification • When a large group of families are approximately equal in rank to each other and clearly differentiated from other families, they form a social class • ‘pecking order’ • Determined by class, status and caste.
Families can comprise of • Nuclear • Extended How do families function? • Cohesion • Adaptability • Communication Situation Influences Arising from factors that are particular to a specific time and place that are independent of consumer and object characteristics .