UK0,M<$b@mevgɦmJ8s =-bU#b5')byiDz)%2.&_NKpGtJ|QGdr:>Fj0rA ؞F&!| 4`,mz3[
Study notes

Issues & Debates: The Nomothetic Approach

  • Levels: A Level
  • Exam boards: AQA, OCR

The term ‘nomothetic’ comes from the Greek word ‘nomos’ which means ‘law’. Psychologists who take a nomothetic approach are concerned with establishing general laws, based on the study of large groups of people, and the use of statistical (quantitative) techniques to analyse data. This means that experiments, correlations, psychometric testing and other quantitative methods are favoured among nomothetic researchers.

The nomothetic approach is the main approach within scientifically oriented psychology. For example:

  • Biological Psychologists take a nomothetic approach when explaining psychological disorders, such as OCD and depression. They typically pinpoint biological factors, such as neurotransmitters, that are responsible for such disorders and use biological therapies (e.g. drugs) to treat all patients.
  • Behaviourists, such as Pavlov and Skinner, conducted experiments with animals in order to establish laws of learning (classical and operant conditioning) that could be generalised to humans and non-human animals.
  • Cognitive Psychologists, such as Atkinson and Shiffrin, developed general laws, such as the Multi-Store Model of Memory, which they believed could be generalised to everyone.
  • Social Psychologists, such as Milgram and Asch, used a nomothetic approach to create general conclusions about human behaviour: that situational factors are responsible for both obedience and conformity.
  • Furthermore, in the area of Psychopathology, classification manuals such as DSM-V and ICD-10 take a nomothetic approach as they classify people with psychological disorders on the basis of specific symptoms.

Teacher Resources

For More Study Notes

To keep up-to-date with the tutor2u Psychology team, follow us on Twitter @tutor2uPsych, Facebook AQA / OCR / Edexcel / Student or subscribe to the Psychology Daily Digest and get new content delivered to your inbox!

Subscribe to email updates from tutor2u Psychology

Join 1000s of fellow Psychology teachers and students all getting the tutor2u Psychology team's latest resources and support delivered fresh in their inbox every morning.

You can also follow @tutor2uPsych on Twitter, subscribe to our YouTube channel, or join our popular Facebook Groups.

Related Collections

You might also like

Show more

Popular Content

Teaching Vacancies


Advertise your vacancies with tutor2u

Much cheaper & more effective than TES or the Guardian. Reach the audience you really want to apply for your teaching vacancy by posting directly to our website and related social media audiences.

Find our more ›

Advertise your teaching jobs with tutor2u