NCERT Textbook - Variations in Psychological Attributes Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

Psychology Class 12

Humanities/Arts : NCERT Textbook - Variations in Psychological Attributes Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


VARIA VARIA
VARIA VARIA VARIATIONS IN PSY TIONS IN PSY
TIONS IN PSY TIONS IN PSY TIONS IN PSYCHOLOGICAL AT CHOLOGICAL AT
CHOLOGICAL AT CHOLOGICAL AT CHOLOGICAL ATTRIBUTES TRIBUTES
TRIBUTES TRIBUTES TRIBUTES
Introduction
Individual Differences in Human Functioning
Assessment of Psychological Attributes
Intelligence
Theories of Intelligence
Theory of Multiple Intelligences
Triarchic Theory of Intelligence
Planning, Attention-arousal, and Simultaneous-
      successive Model of Intelligence
Individual Differences in Intelligence
Variations of Intelligence
Some Misuses of Intelligence Tests (Box 1.1)
Culture and Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence
Characteristics of Emotionally Intelligent
Persons (Box 1.2)
Special Abilities
Aptitude : Nature and Measurement
Creativity
CONTENTS
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Weblinks
Pedagogical 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 challenged
and gifted individuals,
understand how intelligence has different meaning in different cultures, and
understand the difference between intelligence and aptitude.
Page 2


VARIA VARIA
VARIA VARIA VARIATIONS IN PSY TIONS IN PSY
TIONS IN PSY TIONS IN PSY TIONS IN PSYCHOLOGICAL AT CHOLOGICAL AT
CHOLOGICAL AT CHOLOGICAL AT CHOLOGICAL ATTRIBUTES TRIBUTES
TRIBUTES TRIBUTES TRIBUTES
Introduction
Individual Differences in Human Functioning
Assessment of Psychological Attributes
Intelligence
Theories of Intelligence
Theory of Multiple Intelligences
Triarchic Theory of Intelligence
Planning, Attention-arousal, and Simultaneous-
      successive Model of Intelligence
Individual Differences in Intelligence
Variations of Intelligence
Some Misuses of Intelligence Tests (Box 1.1)
Culture and Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence
Characteristics of Emotionally Intelligent
Persons (Box 1.2)
Special Abilities
Aptitude : Nature and Measurement
Creativity
CONTENTS
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Weblinks
Pedagogical 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 challenged
and gifted individuals,
understand how intelligence has different meaning in different cultures, and
understand the difference between intelligence and aptitude.
Psychology
2
exemplifies a typical combination of
various traits. The question which you may
like to pose is how and why people differ.
This, in fact, is the subject matter of the
study of individual differences. For
psychologists, individual differences refer to
distinctiveness and variations among
people’s characteristics and behaviour
patterns.
While many psychologists believe that
our behaviours are influenced by our
personal traits, some others hold the view
that our behaviours are influenced more by
situational factors. This latter view is
known as situationism, which states that
situations and circumstances in which one
is placed influence one’s behaviour. A
person, who is generally aggressive, may
behave in a submissive manner in the
presence of her/his top boss. Sometimes,
the situational influences are so powerful
that individuals with differing personality
traits respond to them in almost the same
ways. The situationist perspective views
human behaviour as resulting from
interaction of external and internal factors.
INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES IN HUMAN
FUNCTIONING
Individual variations are common within
and across all species. Variations add
colour and beauty to nature. For a
moment, think of a world around you
where each and every object is of the same
colour, say red or blue or green. How would
the world appear to you? Certainly not a
beautiful one! Would you prefer to live in
such a world? In all likelihood, your
answer will be ‘no’. Like objects, people too
possess different combinations of traits.
Variability is a fact of nature, and
individuals are no exception to this. They
vary in terms of physical characteristics,
such as height, weight, strength, hair
colour, and so on. They also vary along
psychological dimensions. They may be
intelligent or dull, dominant or submissive,
creative or not so creative, outgoing or
withdrawn, etc. The list of variations can
be endless. Different traits can exist in
varying degrees in an individual. In this
sense, each one of us is unique as s/he
If you observe your friends, classmates or relatives, you will find how they
differ from each other in the manner they perceive, learn, and think, as
also in their performance on various tasks. Such individual differences can
be 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 applied
to understand human behaviour. We also need to know how people differ,
what brings about these differences, and how such differences can be
assessed. You will recall how one of the main concerns of modern psychology
has been the study of individual differences from the time of Galton. This
chapter will introduce you to some of the fundamentals of individual
differences.
One of the most popular psychological attributes which has been of
interest to psychologists is Intelligence. People differ from each other in
their ability to understand complex ideas, adapt to environment, learn from
experience, engage in various forms of reasoning, and to overcome obstacles.
In this chapter , you will study the nature of intelligence, changing definitions
of intelligence, cultural differences in intelligence, range and variations in
the intellectual competencies of people, and the nature of special abilities
or aptitudes.
Introduction
Page 3


VARIA VARIA
VARIA VARIA VARIATIONS IN PSY TIONS IN PSY
TIONS IN PSY TIONS IN PSY TIONS IN PSYCHOLOGICAL AT CHOLOGICAL AT
CHOLOGICAL AT CHOLOGICAL AT CHOLOGICAL ATTRIBUTES TRIBUTES
TRIBUTES TRIBUTES TRIBUTES
Introduction
Individual Differences in Human Functioning
Assessment of Psychological Attributes
Intelligence
Theories of Intelligence
Theory of Multiple Intelligences
Triarchic Theory of Intelligence
Planning, Attention-arousal, and Simultaneous-
      successive Model of Intelligence
Individual Differences in Intelligence
Variations of Intelligence
Some Misuses of Intelligence Tests (Box 1.1)
Culture and Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence
Characteristics of Emotionally Intelligent
Persons (Box 1.2)
Special Abilities
Aptitude : Nature and Measurement
Creativity
CONTENTS
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Weblinks
Pedagogical 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 challenged
and gifted individuals,
understand how intelligence has different meaning in different cultures, and
understand the difference between intelligence and aptitude.
Psychology
2
exemplifies a typical combination of
various traits. The question which you may
like to pose is how and why people differ.
This, in fact, is the subject matter of the
study of individual differences. For
psychologists, individual differences refer to
distinctiveness and variations among
people’s characteristics and behaviour
patterns.
While many psychologists believe that
our behaviours are influenced by our
personal traits, some others hold the view
that our behaviours are influenced more by
situational factors. This latter view is
known as situationism, which states that
situations and circumstances in which one
is placed influence one’s behaviour. A
person, who is generally aggressive, may
behave in a submissive manner in the
presence of her/his top boss. Sometimes,
the situational influences are so powerful
that individuals with differing personality
traits respond to them in almost the same
ways. The situationist perspective views
human behaviour as resulting from
interaction of external and internal factors.
INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES IN HUMAN
FUNCTIONING
Individual variations are common within
and across all species. Variations add
colour and beauty to nature. For a
moment, think of a world around you
where each and every object is of the same
colour, say red or blue or green. How would
the world appear to you? Certainly not a
beautiful one! Would you prefer to live in
such a world? In all likelihood, your
answer will be ‘no’. Like objects, people too
possess different combinations of traits.
Variability is a fact of nature, and
individuals are no exception to this. They
vary in terms of physical characteristics,
such as height, weight, strength, hair
colour, and so on. They also vary along
psychological dimensions. They may be
intelligent or dull, dominant or submissive,
creative or not so creative, outgoing or
withdrawn, etc. The list of variations can
be endless. Different traits can exist in
varying degrees in an individual. In this
sense, each one of us is unique as s/he
If you observe your friends, classmates or relatives, you will find how they
differ from each other in the manner they perceive, learn, and think, as
also in their performance on various tasks. Such individual differences can
be 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 applied
to understand human behaviour. We also need to know how people differ,
what brings about these differences, and how such differences can be
assessed. You will recall how one of the main concerns of modern psychology
has been the study of individual differences from the time of Galton. This
chapter will introduce you to some of the fundamentals of individual
differences.
One of the most popular psychological attributes which has been of
interest to psychologists is Intelligence. People differ from each other in
their ability to understand complex ideas, adapt to environment, learn from
experience, engage in various forms of reasoning, and to overcome obstacles.
In this chapter , you will study the nature of intelligence, changing definitions
of intelligence, cultural differences in intelligence, range and variations in
the intellectual competencies of people, and the nature of special abilities
or aptitudes.
Introduction
Chapter 1 ? Variations in Psychological Attributes
3
ASSESSMENT OF PSYCHOLOGICAL
ATTRIBUTES
Psychological attributes are involved in
very simple phenomena like in time taken
to react to a stimulus, i.e. reaction time,
and also in highly global concepts like
happiness. It is difficult to count and
specify the number of psychological
attributes that can be assessed.
Assessment is the first step in
understanding a psychological attribute.
Assessment refers to the measurement of
psychological attributes of individuals and
their evaluation, often using multiple
methods in terms of certain standards of
comparison. Any attribute will be said to
exist in a person only if it can be measured
by using scientific procedures. For
example, when we say, “Harish is
dominant”, we are referring to the degree
of ‘dominance’ in Harish. This statement is
based on our own assessment of
‘dominance’ in him. Our assessment may
be informal or formal. Formal assessment
is objective, standardised, and organised.
On the other hand, informal assessment
varies from case to case and from one
assessor to another and, therefore, is open
to subjective interpretations. Psychologists
are trained in making formal assessment
of psychological attributes.
Once assessment is done, we can use
this information to predict how Harish will
probably behave in future. We may predict
that Harish, if given a chance to lead a
team, will most likely be an authoritarian
leader. If the predicted consequence is not
what we want, we may want to intervene
to effect a change in Harish’s behaviour.
The attribute chosen for assessment
depends upon our purpose. In order to
help a weak student perform well in
examinations, we may assess her/his
intellectual strengths and weaknesses. If a
person fails to adjust with members of her/
his family and neighbourhood, we may
consider assessing her/his personality
characteristics. For a poorly motivated
person, we may assess her/his interests
and preferences. Psychological assessment
uses systematic testing procedures to
evaluate abilities, behaviours, and personal
qualities of individuals.
Some Domains of Psychological
Attributes
Psychological attributes are not linear or
unidimensional. They are complex and
expressed in terms of dimensions. A line
is a mere aggregate of many points. A point
occupies no space. But think of a box. It
occupies space. It can be described only in
terms of its three dimensions, i.e. length,
width, and height. Similar is the case with
psychological attributes. They are usually
multi-dimensional. If you want to have a
complete assessment of a person, you will
need to assess how s/he functions in
various domains or areas, such as
cognitive, emotional, social, etc.
We will discuss in this chapter some
important attributes that are of interest to
psychologists. These attributes are
categorised on the basis of varieties of tests
used in psychological literature.
1. Intelligence is the global capacity to
understand the world, think rationally,
and use available resources effectively
when faced with challenges. Intelligence
tests provide a global measure of a
person’s general cognitive competence
including the ability to profit from
schooling. Generally, students having
low intelligence are not likely to do so
well in school-related examinations, but
their success in life is not associated
only with their intelligence test scores.
2. Aptitude refers to an individual’s
underlying potential for acquiring skills.
Aptitude tests are used to predict what
an individual will be able to do if given
Page 4


VARIA VARIA
VARIA VARIA VARIATIONS IN PSY TIONS IN PSY
TIONS IN PSY TIONS IN PSY TIONS IN PSYCHOLOGICAL AT CHOLOGICAL AT
CHOLOGICAL AT CHOLOGICAL AT CHOLOGICAL ATTRIBUTES TRIBUTES
TRIBUTES TRIBUTES TRIBUTES
Introduction
Individual Differences in Human Functioning
Assessment of Psychological Attributes
Intelligence
Theories of Intelligence
Theory of Multiple Intelligences
Triarchic Theory of Intelligence
Planning, Attention-arousal, and Simultaneous-
      successive Model of Intelligence
Individual Differences in Intelligence
Variations of Intelligence
Some Misuses of Intelligence Tests (Box 1.1)
Culture and Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence
Characteristics of Emotionally Intelligent
Persons (Box 1.2)
Special Abilities
Aptitude : Nature and Measurement
Creativity
CONTENTS
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Weblinks
Pedagogical 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 challenged
and gifted individuals,
understand how intelligence has different meaning in different cultures, and
understand the difference between intelligence and aptitude.
Psychology
2
exemplifies a typical combination of
various traits. The question which you may
like to pose is how and why people differ.
This, in fact, is the subject matter of the
study of individual differences. For
psychologists, individual differences refer to
distinctiveness and variations among
people’s characteristics and behaviour
patterns.
While many psychologists believe that
our behaviours are influenced by our
personal traits, some others hold the view
that our behaviours are influenced more by
situational factors. This latter view is
known as situationism, which states that
situations and circumstances in which one
is placed influence one’s behaviour. A
person, who is generally aggressive, may
behave in a submissive manner in the
presence of her/his top boss. Sometimes,
the situational influences are so powerful
that individuals with differing personality
traits respond to them in almost the same
ways. The situationist perspective views
human behaviour as resulting from
interaction of external and internal factors.
INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES IN HUMAN
FUNCTIONING
Individual variations are common within
and across all species. Variations add
colour and beauty to nature. For a
moment, think of a world around you
where each and every object is of the same
colour, say red or blue or green. How would
the world appear to you? Certainly not a
beautiful one! Would you prefer to live in
such a world? In all likelihood, your
answer will be ‘no’. Like objects, people too
possess different combinations of traits.
Variability is a fact of nature, and
individuals are no exception to this. They
vary in terms of physical characteristics,
such as height, weight, strength, hair
colour, and so on. They also vary along
psychological dimensions. They may be
intelligent or dull, dominant or submissive,
creative or not so creative, outgoing or
withdrawn, etc. The list of variations can
be endless. Different traits can exist in
varying degrees in an individual. In this
sense, each one of us is unique as s/he
If you observe your friends, classmates or relatives, you will find how they
differ from each other in the manner they perceive, learn, and think, as
also in their performance on various tasks. Such individual differences can
be 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 applied
to understand human behaviour. We also need to know how people differ,
what brings about these differences, and how such differences can be
assessed. You will recall how one of the main concerns of modern psychology
has been the study of individual differences from the time of Galton. This
chapter will introduce you to some of the fundamentals of individual
differences.
One of the most popular psychological attributes which has been of
interest to psychologists is Intelligence. People differ from each other in
their ability to understand complex ideas, adapt to environment, learn from
experience, engage in various forms of reasoning, and to overcome obstacles.
In this chapter , you will study the nature of intelligence, changing definitions
of intelligence, cultural differences in intelligence, range and variations in
the intellectual competencies of people, and the nature of special abilities
or aptitudes.
Introduction
Chapter 1 ? Variations in Psychological Attributes
3
ASSESSMENT OF PSYCHOLOGICAL
ATTRIBUTES
Psychological attributes are involved in
very simple phenomena like in time taken
to react to a stimulus, i.e. reaction time,
and also in highly global concepts like
happiness. It is difficult to count and
specify the number of psychological
attributes that can be assessed.
Assessment is the first step in
understanding a psychological attribute.
Assessment refers to the measurement of
psychological attributes of individuals and
their evaluation, often using multiple
methods in terms of certain standards of
comparison. Any attribute will be said to
exist in a person only if it can be measured
by using scientific procedures. For
example, when we say, “Harish is
dominant”, we are referring to the degree
of ‘dominance’ in Harish. This statement is
based on our own assessment of
‘dominance’ in him. Our assessment may
be informal or formal. Formal assessment
is objective, standardised, and organised.
On the other hand, informal assessment
varies from case to case and from one
assessor to another and, therefore, is open
to subjective interpretations. Psychologists
are trained in making formal assessment
of psychological attributes.
Once assessment is done, we can use
this information to predict how Harish will
probably behave in future. We may predict
that Harish, if given a chance to lead a
team, will most likely be an authoritarian
leader. If the predicted consequence is not
what we want, we may want to intervene
to effect a change in Harish’s behaviour.
The attribute chosen for assessment
depends upon our purpose. In order to
help a weak student perform well in
examinations, we may assess her/his
intellectual strengths and weaknesses. If a
person fails to adjust with members of her/
his family and neighbourhood, we may
consider assessing her/his personality
characteristics. For a poorly motivated
person, we may assess her/his interests
and preferences. Psychological assessment
uses systematic testing procedures to
evaluate abilities, behaviours, and personal
qualities of individuals.
Some Domains of Psychological
Attributes
Psychological attributes are not linear or
unidimensional. They are complex and
expressed in terms of dimensions. A line
is a mere aggregate of many points. A point
occupies no space. But think of a box. It
occupies space. It can be described only in
terms of its three dimensions, i.e. length,
width, and height. Similar is the case with
psychological attributes. They are usually
multi-dimensional. If you want to have a
complete assessment of a person, you will
need to assess how s/he functions in
various domains or areas, such as
cognitive, emotional, social, etc.
We will discuss in this chapter some
important attributes that are of interest to
psychologists. These attributes are
categorised on the basis of varieties of tests
used in psychological literature.
1. Intelligence is the global capacity to
understand the world, think rationally,
and use available resources effectively
when faced with challenges. Intelligence
tests provide a global measure of a
person’s general cognitive competence
including the ability to profit from
schooling. Generally, students having
low intelligence are not likely to do so
well in school-related examinations, but
their success in life is not associated
only with their intelligence test scores.
2. Aptitude refers to an individual’s
underlying potential for acquiring skills.
Aptitude tests are used to predict what
an individual will be able to do if given
Psychology
4
proper environment and training. A
person with high mechanical aptitude
can profit from appropriate training and
can do well as an engineer. Similarly,
a person having high language aptitude
can be trained to be a good writer.
3. Interest is an individual’s preference for
engaging in one or more specific
activities relative to others. Assessment
of interests of students may help to
decide what subjects or courses they
can pursue comfortably and with
pleasure. Knowledge of interests helps
us in making choices that promote life
satisfaction and performance on jobs.
4. Personality refers to relatively enduring
characteristics of a person that make
her or him distinct from others.
Personality tests try to assess an
individual’s unique characteristics, e.g.
whether one is dominant or submissive,
outgoing or withdrawn, moody or
emotionally stable, etc. Personality
assessment helps us to explain an
individual’s behaviour and predict how
she/he will behave in future.
5. Values are enduring beliefs about an
ideal mode of behaviour. A person
having a value sets a standard for
guiding her/his actions in life and also
for judging others. In value assessment,
we try to determine the dominant
values of a person (e.g., political,
religious, social or economic).
Assessment Methods
Several methods are used for psychological
assessment. You have learnt about some
of these methods in Class XI. Let us recall
their key features.
? Psychological Test is an objective
and standardised measure of an
individual’s mental and/or behavioural
characteristics. Objective tests have
been developed to measure all the
dimensions of psychological attributes
(e.g., intelligence, aptitude, etc.)
described above. These tests are widely
used for the purposes of clinical
diagnosis, guidance, personnel
selection, placement, and training.
Besides objective tests, psychologists
have also developed certain projective
tests, especially for the assessment of
personality. You will learn about them
in Chapter 2.
? Interview involves seeking information
from a person on a one-to-one basis. You
may see it being used when a
counsellor interacts with a client, a
salesperson makes a door-to-door
survey regarding the usefulness of a
particular product, an employer selects
employees for her/his organisation, or a
journalist interviews important people
on issues of national and international
importance.
? Case Study is an in-depth study of the
individual in terms of her/his
psychological attributes, psychological
history in the context of her/his
psychosocial and physical environment.
Case studies are widely used by
clinical psychologists. Case analyses of
the lives of great people can also be
highly illuminating for those willing to
learn from their life experiences.
Case studies are based on data
generated by different methods, e.g.
interview, observation, questionnaire,
psychological tests, etc.
? Observation involves employing
systematic, organised, and objective
procedures to record behavioural
phenomena occurring naturally in real
time. Certain phenomena such as
mother-child interactions can be easily
studied through observation. The major
problems with observational methods
are that the observer has little control
over the situation and the reports may
suffer from subjective interpretations of
the observer.
? Self-Report is a method in which a
person provides factual information
about herself/himself and/or opinions,
Page 5


VARIA VARIA
VARIA VARIA VARIATIONS IN PSY TIONS IN PSY
TIONS IN PSY TIONS IN PSY TIONS IN PSYCHOLOGICAL AT CHOLOGICAL AT
CHOLOGICAL AT CHOLOGICAL AT CHOLOGICAL ATTRIBUTES TRIBUTES
TRIBUTES TRIBUTES TRIBUTES
Introduction
Individual Differences in Human Functioning
Assessment of Psychological Attributes
Intelligence
Theories of Intelligence
Theory of Multiple Intelligences
Triarchic Theory of Intelligence
Planning, Attention-arousal, and Simultaneous-
      successive Model of Intelligence
Individual Differences in Intelligence
Variations of Intelligence
Some Misuses of Intelligence Tests (Box 1.1)
Culture and Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence
Characteristics of Emotionally Intelligent
Persons (Box 1.2)
Special Abilities
Aptitude : Nature and Measurement
Creativity
CONTENTS
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Weblinks
Pedagogical 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 challenged
and gifted individuals,
understand how intelligence has different meaning in different cultures, and
understand the difference between intelligence and aptitude.
Psychology
2
exemplifies a typical combination of
various traits. The question which you may
like to pose is how and why people differ.
This, in fact, is the subject matter of the
study of individual differences. For
psychologists, individual differences refer to
distinctiveness and variations among
people’s characteristics and behaviour
patterns.
While many psychologists believe that
our behaviours are influenced by our
personal traits, some others hold the view
that our behaviours are influenced more by
situational factors. This latter view is
known as situationism, which states that
situations and circumstances in which one
is placed influence one’s behaviour. A
person, who is generally aggressive, may
behave in a submissive manner in the
presence of her/his top boss. Sometimes,
the situational influences are so powerful
that individuals with differing personality
traits respond to them in almost the same
ways. The situationist perspective views
human behaviour as resulting from
interaction of external and internal factors.
INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES IN HUMAN
FUNCTIONING
Individual variations are common within
and across all species. Variations add
colour and beauty to nature. For a
moment, think of a world around you
where each and every object is of the same
colour, say red or blue or green. How would
the world appear to you? Certainly not a
beautiful one! Would you prefer to live in
such a world? In all likelihood, your
answer will be ‘no’. Like objects, people too
possess different combinations of traits.
Variability is a fact of nature, and
individuals are no exception to this. They
vary in terms of physical characteristics,
such as height, weight, strength, hair
colour, and so on. They also vary along
psychological dimensions. They may be
intelligent or dull, dominant or submissive,
creative or not so creative, outgoing or
withdrawn, etc. The list of variations can
be endless. Different traits can exist in
varying degrees in an individual. In this
sense, each one of us is unique as s/he
If you observe your friends, classmates or relatives, you will find how they
differ from each other in the manner they perceive, learn, and think, as
also in their performance on various tasks. Such individual differences can
be 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 applied
to understand human behaviour. We also need to know how people differ,
what brings about these differences, and how such differences can be
assessed. You will recall how one of the main concerns of modern psychology
has been the study of individual differences from the time of Galton. This
chapter will introduce you to some of the fundamentals of individual
differences.
One of the most popular psychological attributes which has been of
interest to psychologists is Intelligence. People differ from each other in
their ability to understand complex ideas, adapt to environment, learn from
experience, engage in various forms of reasoning, and to overcome obstacles.
In this chapter , you will study the nature of intelligence, changing definitions
of intelligence, cultural differences in intelligence, range and variations in
the intellectual competencies of people, and the nature of special abilities
or aptitudes.
Introduction
Chapter 1 ? Variations in Psychological Attributes
3
ASSESSMENT OF PSYCHOLOGICAL
ATTRIBUTES
Psychological attributes are involved in
very simple phenomena like in time taken
to react to a stimulus, i.e. reaction time,
and also in highly global concepts like
happiness. It is difficult to count and
specify the number of psychological
attributes that can be assessed.
Assessment is the first step in
understanding a psychological attribute.
Assessment refers to the measurement of
psychological attributes of individuals and
their evaluation, often using multiple
methods in terms of certain standards of
comparison. Any attribute will be said to
exist in a person only if it can be measured
by using scientific procedures. For
example, when we say, “Harish is
dominant”, we are referring to the degree
of ‘dominance’ in Harish. This statement is
based on our own assessment of
‘dominance’ in him. Our assessment may
be informal or formal. Formal assessment
is objective, standardised, and organised.
On the other hand, informal assessment
varies from case to case and from one
assessor to another and, therefore, is open
to subjective interpretations. Psychologists
are trained in making formal assessment
of psychological attributes.
Once assessment is done, we can use
this information to predict how Harish will
probably behave in future. We may predict
that Harish, if given a chance to lead a
team, will most likely be an authoritarian
leader. If the predicted consequence is not
what we want, we may want to intervene
to effect a change in Harish’s behaviour.
The attribute chosen for assessment
depends upon our purpose. In order to
help a weak student perform well in
examinations, we may assess her/his
intellectual strengths and weaknesses. If a
person fails to adjust with members of her/
his family and neighbourhood, we may
consider assessing her/his personality
characteristics. For a poorly motivated
person, we may assess her/his interests
and preferences. Psychological assessment
uses systematic testing procedures to
evaluate abilities, behaviours, and personal
qualities of individuals.
Some Domains of Psychological
Attributes
Psychological attributes are not linear or
unidimensional. They are complex and
expressed in terms of dimensions. A line
is a mere aggregate of many points. A point
occupies no space. But think of a box. It
occupies space. It can be described only in
terms of its three dimensions, i.e. length,
width, and height. Similar is the case with
psychological attributes. They are usually
multi-dimensional. If you want to have a
complete assessment of a person, you will
need to assess how s/he functions in
various domains or areas, such as
cognitive, emotional, social, etc.
We will discuss in this chapter some
important attributes that are of interest to
psychologists. These attributes are
categorised on the basis of varieties of tests
used in psychological literature.
1. Intelligence is the global capacity to
understand the world, think rationally,
and use available resources effectively
when faced with challenges. Intelligence
tests provide a global measure of a
person’s general cognitive competence
including the ability to profit from
schooling. Generally, students having
low intelligence are not likely to do so
well in school-related examinations, but
their success in life is not associated
only with their intelligence test scores.
2. Aptitude refers to an individual’s
underlying potential for acquiring skills.
Aptitude tests are used to predict what
an individual will be able to do if given
Psychology
4
proper environment and training. A
person with high mechanical aptitude
can profit from appropriate training and
can do well as an engineer. Similarly,
a person having high language aptitude
can be trained to be a good writer.
3. Interest is an individual’s preference for
engaging in one or more specific
activities relative to others. Assessment
of interests of students may help to
decide what subjects or courses they
can pursue comfortably and with
pleasure. Knowledge of interests helps
us in making choices that promote life
satisfaction and performance on jobs.
4. Personality refers to relatively enduring
characteristics of a person that make
her or him distinct from others.
Personality tests try to assess an
individual’s unique characteristics, e.g.
whether one is dominant or submissive,
outgoing or withdrawn, moody or
emotionally stable, etc. Personality
assessment helps us to explain an
individual’s behaviour and predict how
she/he will behave in future.
5. Values are enduring beliefs about an
ideal mode of behaviour. A person
having a value sets a standard for
guiding her/his actions in life and also
for judging others. In value assessment,
we try to determine the dominant
values of a person (e.g., political,
religious, social or economic).
Assessment Methods
Several methods are used for psychological
assessment. You have learnt about some
of these methods in Class XI. Let us recall
their key features.
? Psychological Test is an objective
and standardised measure of an
individual’s mental and/or behavioural
characteristics. Objective tests have
been developed to measure all the
dimensions of psychological attributes
(e.g., intelligence, aptitude, etc.)
described above. These tests are widely
used for the purposes of clinical
diagnosis, guidance, personnel
selection, placement, and training.
Besides objective tests, psychologists
have also developed certain projective
tests, especially for the assessment of
personality. You will learn about them
in Chapter 2.
? Interview involves seeking information
from a person on a one-to-one basis. You
may see it being used when a
counsellor interacts with a client, a
salesperson makes a door-to-door
survey regarding the usefulness of a
particular product, an employer selects
employees for her/his organisation, or a
journalist interviews important people
on issues of national and international
importance.
? Case Study is an in-depth study of the
individual in terms of her/his
psychological attributes, psychological
history in the context of her/his
psychosocial and physical environment.
Case studies are widely used by
clinical psychologists. Case analyses of
the lives of great people can also be
highly illuminating for those willing to
learn from their life experiences.
Case studies are based on data
generated by different methods, e.g.
interview, observation, questionnaire,
psychological tests, etc.
? Observation involves employing
systematic, organised, and objective
procedures to record behavioural
phenomena occurring naturally in real
time. Certain phenomena such as
mother-child interactions can be easily
studied through observation. The major
problems with observational methods
are that the observer has little control
over the situation and the reports may
suffer from subjective interpretations of
the observer.
? Self-Report is a method in which a
person provides factual information
about herself/himself and/or opinions,
Chapter 1 ? Variations in Psychological Attributes
5
beliefs, etc. that s/he holds. Such
information may be obtained by
using an interview schedule or a
questionnaire, a psychological test, or
a personal diary.
INTELLIGENCE
Intelligence is a key construct employed to
know how individuals differ from one
another. It also provides an understanding
of how people adapt their behaviour
according to the environment they live in.
In this section, you will read about
intelligence in its various forms.
Psychological notion of intelligence is
quite different from the common sensical
notion of intelligence. If you watch an
intelligent person, you are likely to see in
her/him attributes like mental alertness,
ready wit, quickness in learning, and
ability to understand relationships. The
Oxford Dictionary explains intelligence as
the power of perceiving, learning,
understanding, and knowing. Early
intelligence theorists also used these
attributes in defining intelligence. Alfred
Binet was one of the first psychologists
who worked on intelligence. He defined
intelligence as the ability to judge well,
understand well, and reason well.
Wechsler, whose intelligence tests are most
widely used, understood intelligence in
terms of its functionality, i.e. its value for
adaptation to environment. He defined it as
the global and aggregate capacity of an
individual to think rationally, act
purposefully, and to deal effectively with
her/his environment. Other psychologists,
such as Gardner and Sternberg have
suggested that an intelligent individual not
only adapts to the environment, but also
actively modifies or shapes it. You will be
able to understand the concept of
intelligence and how it has evolved, when
we discuss some important theories of
intelligence.
Activity
1.1
Discovering the Attributes of
Intelligent Persons
1. Who is the most intelligent of your
classmates? Think of her/him in
your mind’s eye, and write down
a few words/phrases describing
that person.
2. Think of 3 other persons in your
immediate environment, whom
you consider intelligent, and write
down a few words/phrases
describing the attributes of each.
3. Judge the newer additions with
reference to what you wrote in item
no. 1.
4. Make a list of all the attributes you
consider as manifestations of
intelligent behaviours. Using these
attributes, try to frame a definition.
5. Discuss your report with your
classmates and the teacher.
6. Compare it with what the
researchers have to say about
‘intelligence’.
THEORIES OF INTELLIGENCE
Psychologists have proposed several
theories of intelligence. Theories can be
broadly classified as either representing a
psychometric/structural approach or an
information-processing approach.
The psychometric approach considers
intelligence as an aggregate of abilities. It
expresses the individual’s performance in
terms of a single index of cognitive abilities.
On the other hand, the information-
processing approach describes the
processes people use in intellectual
reasoning and problem solving. The major
focus of this approach is on how an
intelligent person acts. Rather than
focusing on structure of intelligence or its
underlying dimensions, information-
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