Variations In Psychological Attributes Ch.1 Psycholgy Notes

Psychological Attributes

Variability is a principle of nature. No two individuals are alike. They differ from each other in many respects. Children born of the same parents but they are different and even the-twins are not alike. 

Individual Difference

You must have noticed your friends, classmates or relatives, they psychologically differ from each other in the manner they perceive, learn, and think, as also in their performance on various tasks.

This change is seen in physical and mental ( psychological)forms like in height, weight, colour, complexion strength etc., difference in intelligence, achievement, interest, attitude, aptitude, learning habits, motor abilities, skill. 

Each individual has an intellectual capacity through which he gains experience and learning.

They have the emotions of love, anger, fear and feelings of pleasure and pain. Everyone has the need of independence, success and need for acceptance.

Broadly individual differences are classified into two categories such as inherited traits and acquired traits.

In this chapter, you will study the nature of intelligence, changing definitions

of intelligence, cultural differences in intelligence, range and variations in

the intellectual competencies of people, and the nature of special abilities and aptitudes.


Causes of Individual Differences:

  • Age:

Learning ability and adjustment capacity naturally grow with people’s age.

  • Education:

One major factor which brings individual differences is education. There are differences in the behaviors of educated and uneducated persons. All traits of human beings like social, emotional and intellectual are controlled and modified through proper education.

Education brings a change in our attitude, behaviour, appreciation, and personality. 

  • Heredity:

Heredity traits bring a change from one individual to another. The entire structure of the body is determined by his heretical qualities. 

Intellectual differences of individuals are also to a great extent influenced by hereditary factors.

  • Environment:

Environment brings individual differences in various factors like behaviour, activities, attitude, and style of life characteristics. Personality etc. 

Environment refers to the different types of people, society, their culture, customs, traditions, social heritage, ideas and ideals.

  • Nationality:

Nationality is also one of the causes of individual difference, e.g. Indians are very peace loving, Chinese are cruel, Americans are very frank.

  • Sex:

Due to sex variation one individual differs from other. Men are considered stronger. But women are better in shouldering social responsibilities and have a better control over their emotions.

Assessment of Psychological Attributes

Assessment is the first step of the measurement of psychological attributes of individuals and their evaluation, often using multiple methods as standards of comparison. 

The assessment may be formal or Informal

  • Formal

It is using a defined technique or measuring standards to assess any psychological attribute without letting our own perception change the assessment. 

Formal method is objective, standardized and organized.

The formal assessment also involves measurement with respect to its application in a situation.

  • Informal

Informal assessment is based on our perception and assessment of dominance. This type of assessment will vary the results from one assessor to another, depending on their opinions and will be open to subjective interpretation and huge variation.

  • It predict future behavior It intervene a change if behaviour is undesirable 
  • Helps in evaluation of strength and weaknesses of individual 
  • Helps in assessing personality characteristics 
  • Helps in recruitment and selection process

Main Domains of Psychological Attributes

? Intelligence: It is the capacity to understand, think rationally and use available resources effectively in any situation. It represents general Cognitive ability.

? Aptitude: Aptitude assessment helps predict what an individual will be able to do if given proper environment and training, e.g. training a person with good language aptitude can help him become a good writer.

? Interest: It’s an individual’s interest to engage in a particular activity. Assessment of interest may help in deciding that in which occupation an individual would be comfortable and happy/satisfied.

? Personality: Enduring characteristics that make a person distinct from others.

? Values: Enduring Beliefs about an ideal mode of behaviour. It is a set of standard rules, guidelines which a person follows to live his life. 

Assessment Methods

Several methods are used for Psychological assessment.

? Psychological Test: It is a standardized test to measure any of the individual’s psychological attributes. E. g. Clinical diagnosis, guidance, personnel selection, placement n training.

? Interview: It involves seeking information on a one on one basis by a counsellor from the client. 

Case Study: It is a detailed study of a person’s psychological attributes by collecting history, a wide amount of data using interview, observation, and questionnaire of Psychological tests methods. 

? Observation: This method is useful to study real events, situations however their interpretation can be subjective and in little control of the observer,e g. studying Mother Child relationships by watching them objectively for a certain duration.

? Self-report:  It’s a method in which an individual provides factual information about himself, opinions, beliefs etc.
Such information can be obtained by Interviews, questionnaires or tests.


Intelligence is the main attribute employed to know how individuals are different from each other.

It is mental alertness, quickness to learn and grasp and ability to understand relationships.

Oxford Definition: Power of Perceiving, Learning, Understanding and Knowing

Psychology definitions:

By renowned psychologists 

Alfred Binet: Ability to Judge well, Reason well and Understand well. One similar set of abilities used for solving any or every problem. His theory is called Uni or One factor theory.

Wechsler: Ability to think rationally, act purposefully and to deal effectively with your environment.

Charles Spearman: 1927, proposed a Two Factor Theory. As per him Intelligence consists of a…

  • General factors (g- factor) are primary and common to all performances.
  • Specific factors (s- factors) which are responsible for specific abilities- Singing, architects, scientists

Louis Thurstone: Intelligence consists of 7 primary abilities, relatively independent. They are:

  • Verbal Comprehension ( meaning, words, concepts, ideas)
  • Numerical Ability ( speed & accuracy in numerical & computation skills)
  • Spatial Relations (Visualising patterns and forms)
  • Perceptual Speed (Speed in Perceiving details)
  • Word Fluency ( Using words fluently n flexibly)
  • Memory (accuracy in recalling information)
  • Inductive reasoning ( Deriving rules from presented facts)

Arthur Jensen: Proposed a hierarchical model of intelligence, consisting 2 levels:

  • Level 1: Associative learning where Output is more or less similar to Input. ( eg Rote learning & memory)
  • Level 2: Cognitive competence. Higher order skills. It transforms the input to produce effective output.

J.P. Guilford: 3 dimensions:

  • Operations- Cognition, memory, recording, retention, convergence are the things that the respondent does. 
  • Contents: Nature of material or information on which intellectual operations are performed. Visual, auditory, symbolic, semantic ( words) , behavioural.
  • Products: Form in which information is processed by the respondent.

His theory has 6X5X6 = 180 cells

Theories of Intelligence:

Psychometric Theories of Intelligence

Psychometric theories are based on a model that represents intelligence as a composite of abilities measured by mental tests. 

This test model can be quantified. e.g, performance on a number-series test might represent a weighted composite of number, reasoning, and memory abilities for a complex series.

Information Processing Theories

Information processing theory is the approach to the study of cognitive development. This theory is based on the idea that humans process the information they receive, rather than merely responding to stimuli.

Theory Of Multiple Intelligence

According to Howard Gardner Intelligence is not a single entity, rather distinct types of intelligences exist. They are independent of each other but do work together at times to find solutions to a problem. 

Gardner studied extremely talented people and found eight types of intelligences:

  • Linguistic (Use of language skills): Such people are generally word-smart, articulate, poets & writers.
  • Logical-Mathematical (Scientific thinking & Problem solving): This type of people think Logically, critically, abstract reasoning, symbols & mathematical problem solving, effective, e.g, Scientists, mathematicians who won nobel prize.
  • Spatial ( Visual images & Patterns): Forming, using, transforming mental images, e.g.,  Pilots, sailors, sculptors, painters, architects, interior decorators, surgeons.
  • Musical ( Sensitivity to rhythm & sound pattern): Produce, create and manipulate music patterns.
  • Bodily-Kinaesthetic ( using body flexibly & creatively): Athletes, dancers, sportsmen, gymnasts, surgeons etc.
  • Interpersonal (awareness of one’s own feelings, motives & desires): These people use their knowledge about their strengths, limitations and use this awareness effectively to relate to others, e.g., Philosophers, spiritual leaders.
  • Naturalists: ( has sensitivity towards the natural world): Awareness of relationship with the natural world. Beauty of flora, fauna, ecology, e.g., Hunters, farmers, tourists, botanists, environmentalists, animal activists.

Triarchic Theory of Intelligence

According to Robert Sternberg (1985), Intelligence is Ability to adapt, to shape and select the environment to accomplish one’s goals and those of society/culture.

Sternberg’s theory comprises three parts:

Componential Analytical subtheory

This form of intelligence focuses on academic proficiency. It is the analysis of information to solve problems. Such people think analytically and critically. 

This intelligence has 3 components, each serving different function:

  • Knowledge acquisition: Learn, encode, combine & compare information ( Find stage)
  • Meta component: Control, evaluate, monitor, plan (cognitive processing- analyse & solve stage)
  • Performance components: Action, actually executing the planned task ( Operational skill- transfer stage)

Experiential Creative Subtheory

This intelligence focuses on capacity to be intellectually flexible and innovative. Such people use past experiences creatively to solve new problems. They make new inventions and discoveries, also they have the ability to filter crucial information for a given situation.

Practical Contextual Subtheory

This intelligence involves the ability to deal with environmental demands. Such people adapt to the environment or modify the environment as per their needs and hence are more successful, e.g. When the weather changes and temperatures drop, people adapt by wearing extra layers of clothing to remain warm.

Planning, Attention-Arousal andSimultaneous Successive Model of Intelligence

The Planning, Attention-Arousal, Simultaneous and Successive (PASS) theory of intelligence, was elaborated by Das, Naglieri & Kirby (1994)


It is an essential part of intelligence. After the information is attended to and processed, planning is activated. 

It allows us to think of possible courses of action that need to be implemented to reach the target and evaluate their effectiveness.

In case the plan doesn’t work this part of intelligence also helps review the gaps and device alternate plan.


Arousal helps in paying attention to the stimuli. Too much or too little arousal will interfere with the attention. 

E.g Teacher informs you about the upcoming test, which stimulates you to attend the chapters. Arousal helps you in focusing your attention on reading, learning, revising.

Simultaneous & successive progressing

Simultaneous processing allows you to perceive the relationship between various concepts and integrate them into meaningful patterns. Relationship among abstract figures, e.g. Solving Jigsaw puzzles.

Successive processing takes place when you remember things sequentially, e.g. Learning digits, alphabets etc.

Individual Differences in Intelligence

The study conducted on Identical twins brought up together or in different environment helps us establish the fact that the factors that influence intelligence are:

  • Nature- Heredity, genes
  • Nurture- Environment, nutrition

Research showed: Correlation of Intelligence of different samples are as follows:

  • Identical Twins reared together correlate almost 0.9
  • Identical twins, separated in childhood correlate 0.72
  • Fraternal twins reared together correlate 0.6
  • Siblings reared together correlate 0.5
  • Siblings reared apart correlate about 0.25
  • Adopted children display intelligence more similar to biological parents than adoptive ones. 

Hence, Intelligence is a product of complex interaction of heredity (Nature) and environment (Nurture).

Assessment of Intelligence:

In 1905, Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon made the first successful attempt to measure intelligence.

MA- Mental Age- It’s a measure of intellectual development relative to people of the same age.

CA- Chronological Age- Biological age from birth.

If MA is higher than CA, the person is considered bright and more intelligent.

If MA=CA , then it is considered average intelligence.

If MA<CA, The person is called retarded as per Binet and Simon.

Intelligence Quotient: 1912, William Stern, German Psychologist: IQ

IQ= Mental Age divided by Chronological age and Multiplied by 100.

IQ= MA/CA X100

100 is the multiplier to avoid value in decimals.

So if MA=CA, IQ is 100

For a value more then 100, it means the child’s mental age is higher by those points than chronological age. And for values less than 100, considered low IQ.

Usually distribution over the population follows a bell curve.

IQ Range DescriptionPopulation
Above 130Very superior 2.2
120-130Superior 6.7
110-119High Average 16.1
80-89Low Average 16.1
70-79Borderline 6.7

Culture And Intelligence

Cultural and intellectual or cultural Intelligence (CQ) is the ability to recognize and adapt to cultural differences. It can give you the confidence to operate successfully in a wide range of settings.

Culture not only refers to nationality, ethnicity or religion. It also apply to social groups, business organizations, and the departments, age groups and teams within them.

CQ combines head (knowledge and understanding), body (actions), and heart (confidence and commitment).

According to author Dr David Livermore, culturally intelligent people exhibit:

  • CQ Drive: The motivation to learn about new cultures.
  • CQ Knowledge: Understanding how cultures influence what people say and do.
  • CQ Strategy: Having a plan to respond to cultural differences.
  • CQ Action: Behaving in culturally-sensitive ways, including handling any difficulties that arise.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence also known as emotional quotient or EQ) is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict. 

Emotional intelligence helps you succeed at school and work, achieve your career and personal goals and build stronger relationships,

It also help you to connect with your feelings, turn intention into action, and make informed decisions about what matters most to you.

Emotional intelligence affects your performance at school or work, your physical and mental health, your relationships and your social intelligence.

Emotional intelligence has four attributes:

  • Self-management : You can manage your emotions in healthy ways, take initiative, follow through on commitments, adapt to changing circumstances and able to control impulsive feelings and behaviors,
  • Self-awareness: You recognize your own strengths and weaknesses, and have self-confidence. You also recognize your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior. 
  • Social awareness: You can understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people.
  • Relationship management: You know how to develop good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, work well in a team, and manage conflict.

Special Abilities: 

Aptitude: Nature and Measurement

Aptitude is the special ability which is confined to the potentialities for the future. It  helps to predict the probable development of certain abilities. 

An aptitude is a combination of in-born capacities and developed abilities. Such combinations of inborn capacities and developed abilities make the person what he is at any given time and predicts what he may become.

Warren: “An aptitude is a condition or set of characteristics regarded as symptomatic of an individual’s ability to acquire with training some knowledge and skill onset of responses such as the ability to speak a language or to practice music etc.”

Nature of Aptitude 

  • An aptitude is a combination of abilities and personality characteristics which lead a person to do one kind of work better than another and increases his chances of success at it.
  • An aptitude is not an ordinary trait of human personality.
  • An aptitude is largely acquired though in many cases. It is inborn in nature.

Measurement of Aptitude:

A number of aptitude tests have been developed.

Aptitude tests can be broadly categorised under two heads

(i) Differential Aptitude Test Battery, and

(ii) Special Aptitude tests.

Differential Aptitude Test Battery:

This is a comprehensive and carefully developed Battery developed by George K. Bennett, Harold G. Seashore and Alexander G. Wesman. 

It was developed mainly for use in educational and vocational counseling of high school students.

  • Verbal reasoning test,Numerical ability test,
  • Abstract reasoning test,
  • Space relations tests,
  • Mechanical reasoning test,
  • Clerical speed and accuracy test, and
  • Language usage test.

Special Aptitude Tests:

1. Mechanical Aptitude Test:

Mechanical ability is an ability involved in manipulating concrete objects, such as tools, and in dealing mentally with mechanical movements.

A number of tests are available for measuring mechanical aptitude for a large field of occupations.

  • Minnesota Mechanical Assembly Test.
  • Minnesota Spatial Relations Test.
  • Minnesota Paper Form Board.
  • Johnson O’Connor’s Wiggly Blocks.
  • Sharma’s Mechanical Aptitude Test Battery.
  • Stenquist Mechanical Aptitude Tests.

2. Clerical Aptitude Tests:

Clerical duties include the gathering, classification, and presentation of data of all sorts, and analysis and use of these data in planning, executing and determining the results of operation.

A number of tests are available for measuring clerical aptitude:

  • Minnesota Clerical Aptitude Test.
  • General Clerical Aptitude.
  • The Detroit Clerical Aptitude Examination.
  • P.R.W. Test.
  • Orissa Test of Clerical Aptitude.
  • Clerical Aptitude Test.

3. Tests of Artistic Aptitude:

Some tests have been designed to measure artistic aptitudes.

? Graphic Arts Test: These tests measure the art and aesthetic aptitudes.

? Musical Aptitude Tests: These tests measure the various components of musical talent.

? Literary Aptitude Tests: Some examples of such tests are Abbot Traube Test, Rigg Poetry Judgement Test.

? Professional Aptitude Tests: These tests measure aptitude for different professions. Such tests are conducted before admission into professional institutions like medical, legal, engineering institutions.

There are many tests available to measure aptitude in medicine, science, mathematics, law, engineering, teaching etc.

? Scholastic Aptitude Tests: These tests measure scholastic or academic aptitudes. Some examples of such tests are Scholastic Aptitude Tests of C.E.E. Board, Graduate Record Examination.

? Other Tests like Motor Dexterity Tests:

Other Tests like Motor Dexterity Tests, Sensory Tests, Visual Tests and Auditory Tests.


Creativity is a phenomenon where something new and valuable is formed. The created item may be intangible (such as an idea, a scientific theory, a musical composition or a joke) tangible or a physical object (such as an invention, a literary work or a painting).

There are many differences in the potential for creativity across individuals and the manner in which creativity is expressed.

Creativity can be expressed in writing, dance, poetry, science and so on.

Display of creativity can be seen in a poem, painting, new chemical process, an innovation of law, a breakthrough in science in preventing a disease.

Some names of highly creative persons in history are: Tagore, Einstein, C.V.Raman, Ramanujan etc. for their outstanding contribution.

The definition of creativity has broadened and it includes ordinary people in creative occupations like Pottery, carpentry, cooking etc.

Creativity and Intelligence:

Intelligence is a brain function which helps individuals to perform and excel in multiple domains. Creativity is the ability to use this intelligence in order to create something unique and novel in a specific field.

The relationship between Intelligence and creativity is high. All kinds of creative abilities require a minimum level of intelligence to acquire knowledge, capacity to comprehend, retain and retrieve.

For instance, to express creativity in writing, one must possess adequate language skills and to express creativity in creating new laws of science, one must have intelligence to acquire basic knowledge of the subject.

Creativity tests are open ended and involve making a person think of different answers to the questions and problems. 

They give freedom to individuals to go in different directions and freedom to use their imagination and express themselves in original ways.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1. What is psychological attributes?

Answer: Variability is a principle of nature. No two individuals are alike. They differ from each other in many respects. Children born of the same parents but they are different and even the-twins are not alike. 

Question 2. How do we assess psychological attributes?

Answer: Assessment is the first step of the measurement of psychological attributes of individuals and their evaluation, often using multiple methods as standards of comparison. 
The assessment may be formal or Informal.

Question 3: What are the various domains of psychological attributes?

Answer: Various Domains are:
Intelligence: It is the capacity to understand.
Aptitude: Aptitude assessment helps predict what an individual will be able to do
Interest: Assessment of interest may help in deciding that in which occupation an individual would be comfortable and happy/satisfied.
Personality: Enduring characteristics that make a person distinct from others.
Values: Enduring Beliefs about an ideal mode of behaviour.

Final Words

You have covered a detailed explanation of Variations in Psychological Attributes. We hope that above mentioned notes and FAQ of Psychological attributes definitely help you in your exam.

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