Individual Differences (Important Topic for B.El.Ed Exam)


Meaning of Individual Differences:

Dissimilarity is principle of nature. No two persons are alike. All the individuals differ from each other in many a respects. Children born of the same parents and even the-twins are not alike. This differential psychology is linked with the study of individual differences. Wundt, Cattel, Kraepelin, Jastrow and Ebbing Haus are the exponents of differential psychology.

This change is seen in physical forms like in height, weight, colour, complexion strength etc., difference in intelligence, achievement, interest, attitude, aptitude, learning habits, motor abilities, skill. Each man has an intellectual capacity through which he gains experience and learning.

Every person has the emotions of love, anger, fear and feelings of pleasure and pain. Every man has the need of independence, success and need for acceptance.

Definitions of Individual Differences:

1. Drever James:

“Variations or deviations from the average of the group, with respect to the mental or physical characters, occurring in the individual member of the group are individual differences.”

2. Good, C.V.:

“The variation or deviations among individual is regard to a single characteristics or a number of characteristics, those differences which in their totality distinguish one individual from another.”

3. Skinner, C.E.:

“Today we think of individual differences as including any measurable aspect of the total personality.”

Types of Individual Differences:

1. Physical differences:

Shortness or tallness of stature, darkness or fairness of complexion, fatness, thinness, or weakness are various physical individual differences.

2. Differences in intelligence:

There are differences in intelligence level among different individuals. We can classify the individuals from super-normal (above 120 I.Q.) to idiots (from 0 to 50 I.Q.) on the basis of their intelligence level.

3. Differences in attitudes:

Individuals differ in their attitudes towards different people, objects, institutions and authority.

4. Differences in achievement:

It has been found through achievement tests that individuals differ in their achievement abilities. These differences are very much visible in reading, writing and in learning mathematics.

These differences in achievement are even visible among the children who are at the same level of intelligence. These differences are on account of the differences in the various factors of intelligence and the differences in the various experiences, interests and educational background.

5. Differences in motor ability:

There are differences in motor ability. These differences are visible at different ages. Some people can perform mechanical tasks easily, while others, even though they are at the same level, feel much difficulty in performing these tasks.

6. Differences on account of sex:

McNemar and Terman discovered the following differences between men and women, on the basis of some studies:

(i) Women have greater skill in memory while men have greater motor ability.

(ii) Handwriting of women is superior while men excel in mathematics and logic.

(iii) Women show greater skill in making sensory distinctions of taste, touch and smell etc., while men show greater reaction and conscious of size- weight illusion.

(iv) Women are superior to men in languages, while men are superior in physics and chemistry.

(v) Women are better than men in mirror drawing. Faults of speech etc. in men were found to be three times of such faults in women.

(vi) Women are more susceptible to suggestion while there are three times as many colour blind men as there are women.

(vii) Young girls take interest in stories of love, fairy tales, stories of the school and home and day-dreaming and show various levels in their play. On the other hand boys take interest in stories of bravery, science, war, scouting, stories of games and sports, stories and games of occupation and skill.

7. Racial differences:

There are different kinds of racial differences. Differences of environment is a normal factor in causing these differences. Karl Brigham has composed a list on the basis of differences in levels of intelligence among people who have migrated to United States from other countries.

On the basis of these average differences between the races, the mental age of a particular individual cannot be calculated since this difference is based on environment.

8. Differences due to nationality:

Individuals of different nations differ in respect of physical and mental differences, interests and personality etc. ‘Russians are tall and stout’; ‘Ceylonese are short and slim’; ‘Germans have no sense of humour’; ‘Yellow races are cruel and revengeful’; ‘Americans are hearty and frank’; Indians are timid and peace-loving’ and the like observations enter into our common talk.

9. Differences due to economic status:

Differences in children’s interests, tendencies and character are caused by economic differences.

10. Differences in interests:

Factors such as sex, family background level of development, differences of race and nationality etc., cause differences in interests.

11. Emotional differences:

Individuals differ in their emotional reactions to a particular situation. Some are irritable and aggressive and they get angry very soon. There are others who are of peaceful nature and do not get angry easily. At a particular thing an individual may be so much enraged that he may be prepared for the worst crime like murder, while another person may only laugh at it.

12. Personality differences:

There are differences in respect of personality. On the basis of differences in personality, individuals have been classified into many groups.

Causes of Individual Differences:

There are various causes which are responsible in bringing individual differences.

They are narrated below:

i. Heredity:

Some heretical traits bring a change from one individual to other. An individual’s height, size, shape and color of hair, shape of face, nose, hands and legs so to say the entire structure of the body is determined by his heretical qualities. Intellectual differences are also to a great extent influenced by hereditary factor.

ii. Environment:

Environment brings individual differences in behaviour, activities, attitude, and style of life characteristics. Personality etc. Environment does not refer only physical surroundings but also it refers the different types of people, society, their culture, customs, traditions, social heritage, ideas and ideals.

iii. Race and Nationality:

Race and Nationality is one cause of individual difference. Indians are very peace loving, Chinese are cruel; Americans are very frank due to race and nationality.

iv. Sex:

Due to sex variation one individual differs from other. Men are strong in mental power. On the other hand women on the average show small superiority over men in memory, language and aesthetic sense. Women excel the men in shouldering social responsibilities and have a better control over their emotions.

v. Age:

Age is another factor which is responsible in bringing individual differences. Learning ability and adjustment capacity naturally grow with age. When one grows in age can acquire better control over our emotions and better social responsibilities. When a child grows then this maturity and development goes side by side.

vi. Education:

Education is one major factor which brings individual differences. There is a wide gap in the behaviors of educated and uneducated persons. All traits of human beings like social, emotional and intellectual are controlled and modifies through proper education.

This education brings a change in our attitude, behaviour, appreciations, Personality. It is seen that uneducated persons are guided by their instinct and emotions where as the educated persons are guided by their reasoning power.


Educational implications of Individual differences are listed below:

i. Aims of education, curriculum, method of teaching should be linked with individual differences considering the different abilities and traits individual.

ii. Curriculum should be designed as per the interest, abilities and needs of different students.

iii. The teacher has to adopt different types of methods of teaching considering individual difference related to interest, need, etc.

iv. Some co-curricular activities such as Drama, music, literary activities (Essay & Debate Competition) should be assigned to children according to their interest.

v. Teacher uses certain specific teaching aids which will attract the children towards teaching considering their interest and need.

vi. Various methods such as playing method, project method, Montessori method, story telling methods are to be used considering/discovering how different children respond to a task or a problem.

vii. The division of pupils into classes should not be based only on the mental age or chronological age of children but the physical, social and emotional maturity should be given due consideration.

viii. In case of vocational guidance the counselor is to plan the guidance technique keeping in view the needs and requirements of the students.

Individual difference and its effects on learning

There are three types of individuals which effects on Learning 1. Socioeconomic Status 2. Thinking/Learning Style 3. Exceptionalities

  • Socioeconomic Status The millionaires’ lifestyle differs from that of the middle income or lower income group.
  • Thinking/Learning Style • Some of you learn better by seeing something; others by just listening; and still others by manipulating something.
  • Exceptionalities In class there maybe one who has difficulty in spoken language comprehension or in seeing, hearing, etc.

Differences in learning and thinking style Some learn more easily and are able to make use of their learning more comfortably than others. For some, one method of learning or memorization is more suitable, while for others, a different method suits. Parents and teachers are able to perceive children and their natural tendencies of how they think, act and learn in different ways and in different situations.

Differences in learning and thinking style  For example, one child may welcome structure in learning while another may welcome new ways of doing things. One child may perform tasks in an orderly and systematic pattern and another may perform tasks in an unsystematic pattern. This is due to individual differences in their style of learning and thinking

Differences in learning and thinking style • Some of you learn better by seeing something; others by just listening; and still others by manipulating something.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top