From the APS Journal Archive: ‘Why Can’t We Be More Idiographic in Our Research?’

“Why Can’t We Be More Idiographic in Our Research?” by David H. Barlow1 and Matthew K. Nock2 was published in Perspectives on Psychological Science in January 2009 and has been cited 22 times (via Web of Science) since publication.

Click here to read the article in full.


Most 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.

1Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, Boston University
2Harvard University

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