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Issues and Debates – Historical Debates

8. Nomothetic and Idiographic Research: Examples

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In this lecture, we think about a practical example within national identity is approached from a nomothetic and an idiographic perspective, focusing in particular on: (i) perceived collective continuity, defined as a person’s belief in the continuous and historic nature of their nation; (ii) Sani and colleagues’ research on the presence of perceived collective continuity across individuals; (iii) the relationship found between a high perception of nation continuity and a sense of identifying with that nation; (iv) this nomothetic, cause and effect belief model of national identity, as identifying with the nation and discriminating against others; (v) an idiographic viewpoint which considers individuals using this idea of continuity to construct arguments; (vi) Greenwood’s study, which highlighted differences in people’s framing of a past atrocity depending on their motivations, demonstrating this idiographic viewpoint; (vii) the contrasting measurement methods used in these two studies, with questionnaires used in the former and detailed interviews in the latter; (viii) the differing framing of findings between these two studies, with the former using a nomothetic viewpoint, whereby people’s views are generalised, and the latter using a personal, detailed, idiographic view.


In this course, Dr Metodi Siromahov (University College London) explores some historic debates in psychology. In the first lecture, we think about the history of the free will versus determinism debate and the origins of psychological theory. In the second lecture, we think about some modern viewpoints on this debate, including drawing similarities between behaviourism with cognitive psychology. In the third lecture, we think about social constructivism and the impact of culture and environment on our thought processes. Next, we think about reductionism versus holism, including a contrast between Freudian theory and humanistic psychology. In the fifth lecture, we think about religion as an example for which holistic and reductionist theories can be applied. In the sixth lecture, we think about the definitions and impacts of nomothetic and idiographic approaches to research. In the seventh lecture, we think further about these research approaches, including some key criticisms and examples. In the eighth and final lecture, we review two studies which approach the topic of nationalism from a nomothetic and idiographic view respectively.


Dr Metodi Siromahov is a lecturer in the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences at University College London. Dr Siromahov’s research interests are in historical controversies and debates within social psychology, and the application of these to understanding political ideologies. Dr Siromahov’s recent publications include 'Beliefs in national continuity are related to essentialist thinking and to perceptions of the nation as a family' (2020) and 'Mapping visual spatial prototypes: Multiple reference frames shape visual memory' (2020).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Siromahov, M. (2022, June 09). Issues and Debates – Historical Debates - Nomothetic and Idiographic Research: Examples [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Siromahov, M. "Issues and Debates – Historical Debates – Nomothetic and Idiographic Research: Examples." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 09 Jun 2022,

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