Nomothetic research vs. idiographic research

Nomothetic vs. Idiographic research is not just for the psychology field, it is important to all fields of the Social Sciences, including geography. Here is a breakdown between the significance of studying geographic phenomenon NOMOTHETICAL or IDEOGRAPHICALLY; another blog did it best, so here is the repost!


A key debate, is the one between the two research methods: nomothetic and idiographic. The debate concerns which method of enquiry is more important and which would allow greater and more valid investigation into the field of psychology.

Nomothetic research is about attempting to establish general laws and generalisations.  The focus of the nomothetic approach is to obtain objective knowledge through scientific methods. Hence quantitive methods of investigation are used, to try and produce statistically significant results. The subsequent laws that are created can be categorised into three kinds: classifying people into groups, establishing principles and establishing dimensions. An example of this from the world of psychology is the ‘Diagnostic and statistical Manuals of Mental Disorders’ (DSM), which provides the classifications for mental disorders, hence classifying people into groups.

The methods of investigation used by the nomothetic approach collects scientific and quantitive data. To do this, experiments and observations are…

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