|•||The area: the area of individual differences examines the psychological similarities and differences between people.|
|•||The research: does our personality change or stay the same throughout adulthood?|
The area of individual differences focuses on the psychology of individual people. While other areas of psychology aim to find the general 'laws' about behaviour (e.g. how memory works in most people), this area looks at how individual people differ in their own right. It examines how people are similar and how they are different in their feelings, thoughts and behaviours. Psychologists consider human behaviour to differ in five realms; personality, psychopathology, cognitive abilities, social attitudes and psychological interests. Researchers investigate differences in, for example, emotion, religiousness, motivation, learning, stress, health, perception, occupational choice and so on. When learning about psychology, the most commonly discussed areas are differences in personality and in intelligence. We have already looked at some individual differences in this book (for example, the research paper in Chapter 6 examined how people differ in attachment styles).
The official beginning of the psychology of individual differences is considered to be when the first centre for mental measurement, was established in 1885 by Francis Galton (1822–1911). Galton devised the first test to measure individual differences in intelligence. Similarly, Alfred Binet (1857–1911) devised tests to assess subnormal children attending schools in Paris, and set up a laboratory in 1895. The development of the area of individual differences