The Nomothetic Approach in Personality Testing Essay

The Nomothetic Approach in Personality Testing Essay Example

Psychology offers a number of methods allowing people to test a personality. The Nomothetic approach is one of the most popular ones, which analyzes the common behavior laws. When it comes to the personality assessment, psychologists frequently apply this method proven in many theses

By the way, the origin of the term “nomothetic” dates back to more than 100 years ago. A prominent German philosopher W. Windelband is regarded to be the father of this method because he was the first who offered to use it in psychology. After that, another philosopher from the USA, G. Allport, identified it as one of the best methods, allowing to study the behavior of a person.

Today, psychologists frequently use it in a combination with another term “idiographic”. There is a difference between them. Nomothetic means searching for the general laws to use in order to characterize a person, while idiographic describes the individuality of a person. The key purpose of this approach is to identify the individual characteristic features of a person.

When using the nomothetic approach, psychologists define what characteristic features of a particular person are common to other people. Scientists believe that the behavior of a personality is predetermined by genetics only. They really believe that social environment can’t change some habits or behavior of a person. Sooner or later, genetic susceptibility will be brought to light.

The Nomothetic approach lays the groundwork for the ideographic description. The main thing you should know about this method of personality testing is that experts diagnose people in accordance with one or another feature. On the basis of this method, psychologists render a decision regarding the existence of a definite peculiarity in a group of people.

In current times, psychologists frequently use both approaches in their everyday work. Some of them consider that it is impossible to test a personality without the results of both approaches. Before you use the idiographic approach, it is necessary to identify common features through the use of the Nomothetic approach.

It is also worth mentioning that this method uses the study of traits. Otherwise stated, the results are contingent on the type of a person. Traits are the key determinants of a person. Commonly, psychologists consider traits to be the main determinants of human behavior.

They perform one function – to characterize a person. Furthermore, they consider that people share many common characteristics and if to study closer each of them, it is possible to understand common and different features of individuals.

According to the main trait framework, it is possible to identify four personality types:

  • Stable – Unstable
  • Introvert – Extrovert

Usually, they are subdivided into several clusters, which help psychologists give a more detailed analysis to a person.

All proponents of the nomothetic method consider that individuals are unique only in a combination of certain traits.

In current times, HR managers frequently use the techniques of this approach in order to recruit workers. For that reason, we can conclude that this is a powerful technique which is used not only in the abstract but in practice as well.


  1. John L. Falk. “Issues Distinguishing Idiographic from Nomothetic Approaches to Personality Theory”. All about Psychology. Accessed 29 Jun. 2011.

  2. Cordula Zwanzig. “The Effectiveness of Nomothetic Methods in Personality Psychology”. GRIN Verlag. Accessed 17 Feb. 2014.

  3. Adriene M. Beltz, Aidan G. C. Wright, Briana N. Sprague, Peter C. M. Molenaar. “Bridging the Nomothetic and Idiographic Approaches to the Analysis of Clinical Data”. Website, Accessed Aug. 2016.