INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES – Teaching Aptitude

Meaning of Individual Differences (Teaching Aptitude):

Dissimilarity is the principle of nature. No two persons are alike. All the individuals differ from each other in many respects. Children born of the same parents and even the-twins are not alike. This differential psychology is linked with the study of individual differences. Wundt, Cattel, Kraepelin, Jastrow, and Ebbing Haus are the exponents of differential psychology.

This change is seen in physical forms like in height, weight, color, complexion strength, etc., the difference in intelligence, achievement, interest, attitude, aptitude, learning habits, motor abilities, skill. Each man has an intellectual capacity through which he gains experience and learning.

Every person has emotions of love, anger, fear, and feelings of pleasure and pain. Every man has the need for independence, success, and need for acceptance.


Definitions of Individual Differences:

  1. Drever James:

“Variations or deviations from the average of the group, with respect to the mental or physical characters, occurring in the individual member of the group are individual differences.”

  1. Good, C.V.:

“The variation or deviations among individual is regard to a single characteristic or a number of characteristics, those differences which in their totality distinguish one individual from another.”

  1. Skinner, C.E.:

“Today we think of individual differences as including any measurable aspect of the total personality.”


Types of Individual Differences (teaching aptitude):

  1. Physical differences:

Shortness or tallness of stature, darkness, or fairness of complexion, fatness, thinness, or weakness is various physical individual differences.

  1. Differences in intelligence:

There are differences in intelligence levels among different individuals. We can classify the individuals from super-normal (above 120 I.Q.) to idiots (from 0 to 50 I.Q.) on the basis of their intelligence level.

  1. Differences in attitudes:

Individuals differ in their attitudes towards different people, objects, institutions, and authority.

  1. Differences in achievement:

It has been found through achievement tests that individuals differ in their achievement abilities. These differences are very much visible in reading, writing, and in learning mathematics.

These differences in achievement are even visible among the children who are at the same level of intelligence. These differences are on account of the differences in the various factors of intelligence and the differences in the various experiences, interests, and educational backgrounds.

  1. Differences in motor ability:

There are differences in motor ability. These differences are visible at different ages. Some people can perform mechanical tasks easily, while others, even though they are at the same level, feel much difficulty in performing these tasks.

  1. Differences on account of sex:

McNemar and Terman discovered the following differences between men and women, on the basis of some studies:

(i) Women have greater skill in memory while men have the greater motor ability.

(ii) The handwriting of women is superior while men excel in mathematics and logic.

(iii) Women show greater skill in making sensory distinctions of taste, touch and smell, etc., while men show a greater reaction and conscious of size-weight illusion.

(iv) Women are superior to men in languages, while men are superior in physics and chemistry.

(v) Women are better than men in mirror drawing. Faults of speech etc. in men were found to be three times of such faults in women.

(vi) Women are more susceptible to suggestions while there are three times as many color blind men as there are women.

(vii) Young girls take interest in stories of love, fairy tales, stories of the school and home, and day-dreaming and show various levels in their play. On the other hand, boys take interest in stories of bravery, science, war, scouting, stories of games and sports, stories, and games of occupation and skill.

  1. Racial differences:

There are different kinds of racial differences. Differences in the environment is a normal factor in causing these differences. Karl Brigham has composed a list on the basis of differences in levels of intelligence among people who have migrated to the United States from other countries.

On the basis of these average differences between the races, the mental age of a particular individual cannot be calculated since this difference is based on the environment.

  1. Differences due to nationality:

Individuals of different nations differ in respect of physical and mental differences, interests and personality, etc. ‘Russians are tall and stout’; ‘Ceylonese are short and slim’; ‘Germans have no sense of humor’; ‘Yellow races are cruel and revengeful’; ‘Americans are hearty and frank’; Indians are timid and peace-loving’ and the like observations enter into our common talk.

  1. Differences due to economic status:

Differences in children’s interests, tendencies, and character are caused by economic differences.

  1. Differences in interests:

Factors such as sex, the family background level of development, differences of race and nationality, etc., cause differences in interests.

  1. Emotional differences:

Individuals differ in their emotional reactions to a particular situation. Some are irritable and aggressive and they get angry very soon. There are others who are of a peaceful nature and do not get angry easily. At a particular thing, an individual may be so much enraged that he may be prepared for the worst crime like murder, while another person may only laugh at it.



  1. Personality differences:

There are differences in respect to personality. On the basis of differences in personality, individuals have been classified into many groups.

Spranger, for example, has classified personalities into six types:

(a) Theoretical,

(b) Economic

(c) Aesthetic,

(d) Social,

(e) Political, and

(f) Religious.

Jung classified people into three groups:

(a) Introverts,

(b) Extroverts, and

(c) Ambiverts.

Trotter divided individuals into:

(a) Stable minded, and

(b) Unstable minded.

Jordon thinks of personalities into:

(a) Active, and

(b) Reflective type.

Thorndike has classified people into four categories on the basis of thinking:

(a) Abstract thinkers,

(b) Ideational thinkers,

(c) Object thinkers, and

(d) Thinkers in whom sensory experience is predominant.

Terman has classified people into nine classes according to their level of intelligence:

(a) Genius,

(b) Near genius

(c) Very superior,

(d) Superior,

(e) Average,

(f) Backward,

(g) Feebleminded,

(h) Dull, and

(i) Idiot.

It is an admitted fact that some people are honest, others are dishonest, some are aggressive, others are humble, some are social, others like to be alone, some are critical and others are sympathetic. Thus we see that the differences in personality are dependent on personality traits. Teachers should keep in mind these differences while imparting education to the pupils.

Causes of Individual Differences:

Some of the main causes of individual differences are as under:

  1. Heredity:

One of the most significant and chief causes of individual differences is heredity. Individuals inherit various physical traits like a face with its features, color of eyes and hair, type of skin, the shape of skull and size of hands, color blindness, baldness, stub-finger and tendency to certain diseases like cancer and tuberculosis, mental traits like intelligence, abstract thinking, aptitudes, and prejudices. Now it is an admitted fact that heredity differences result in the quantity and rate of physical as well as mental development being different and different individuals.

  1. Environment:

The environment significantly influences individual differences. Changes in the child’s environment are reflected in the changes in his personality. Psychologically speaking, a person’s environment consists of sum total of stimulation which he receives from conception until his death.

The environment consists of physical, intellectual, social, moral, political, economic, and cultural forces. All these forces cause individual differences. Modern psychologists believe that individual differences are caused by both heredity and environment. Personality is the outcome of mutual interaction between heredity and the environment.

  1. Influence of caste, race, and nation:

Individuals of different castes and races exhibit very marked differences. It is generally seen that son of a Kshatriya has more courage in him while the son of a trader has the traits of the business.

Similarly, individuals of different nations show differences with respect to their personality, character, and mental abilities. These are the outcome of their geographical, social, and cultural environment. Many studies have shown the existence of differences between Americans and Negroes, Chinese and Japanese, English, and Indian individuals.

  1. Sex differences:

The development of boys and girls exhibits differences due to differences in sex. The physical development of the girl takes place a year or two earlier than the boys. Between the age of 11 and 14, girls are taller and heavier than boys. After 15, boys start winning the race.

Girls are kind, affectionate, sympathetic, and tender while the boys are brave, hard, choleric, efficient, and competent.

  1. Age and intelligence:

Physical, intellectual, and emotional development is caused by the growth in age. Many individuals differently because of the differences in intelligence. Individuals who are below the average in intelligence and mental age find much difficulty in learning and the average intelligent persons can learn quickly.

  1. Temperament and emotional stability:

Some people are by temperament active and quick, while others are passive and slow, some humorous and others short-tempered. The emotional stability of the individual is differently affected by physical, mental, and environmental factors. Differences in emotional stability cause individual differences.

  1. Other Causes:

Interests, aptitudes, achievements, sentiments, character, educational, and home background lead to individual differences.

  1. Economic condition and education:

Individual differences are caused by the economic condition of the parents and the education of the children. It is not possible for the children of two economic classes to have a similarity and equality.

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