Why Can't We Be More Idiographic in Our Research?
Barlow, David H.
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CitationBarlow, David H. and Matthew Nock. 2009. Why can't we be more idiographic in our research? Perspectives on Psychological Science 4(1): 19-21.
AbstractMost psychological scientists make inferences about the relations among variables of interest by comparing aggregated data from groups of individuals. Although this method is unarguably a useful one that will continue to yield scientific advances, important limitations exist regarding the efficiency and flexibility of such designs, as well as with the generality of obtained results. Idiographic research strategies, which focus on the intensive study of individual organisms over time, offer a proficient and flexible alternative to group comparison designs; however, they are rarely taught in graduate training programs and are seldom used by psychological scientists. We highlight some of the unique strengths of idiographic methods, such as single case experimental designs, and suggest that psychological science will progress most efficiently with an increased use of such methods in both laboratory and clinical settings.
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