Individual Differences

Individual Differences in behavior, development, emotion, and cognition help explain the variation that exists between individuals. Differential psychology is concerned with the study of individual differences in broad areas such as personality, temperament, intelligence, genetics, gender, interests, and goals… to name a few. Within a social context, we learn what to expect from others, how to make sense of the world, and who we are based on individual differences. These differences include inborn temperament, personality traits, schemas, and attachment patterns. One of the main goals in individual differences research is to predict ongoing behavior. The idea is that based on particular differences or a certain combination of qualities, it is possible to explain and predict a person’s behavior. For instance, research indicates a wealth of ways in which personality trait differences impact and predict important outcomes such as occupational success, marital satisfaction, mental disorders, and even mortality rates.

Through the lens of mindfulness, individual differences allow for deeper insight into the ways in which your personal life story, characteristics, and ambitions combine to make “you.” When you take the time and energy to explore your personal patterns of relating with others, interacting with the world, and true desires in life, self-awareness expands. Research increasingly supports the potential for qualities thought to be “unchangeable” to be flexible and adaptable based on the behaviors that we choose. For instance, studies indicate that trait mindfulness can be strengthened through regular meditation practices. In the realm of individual differences, qualities termed as “traits” are generally considered to be longstanding over the lifespan. In contrast, characteristics defined as “states” are thought of as temporary, environmentally induced, and changeable.

Insecure Attachment Styles & Adult Relationships

 “A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.” – Dalai Lama Attachment styles develop within the context of your earliest relationships… the ones with your parent(s) or primary caregiver(s). According to attachment theory, these formative relationships serve as the foundation from which you develop an understanding of how relationships work, what…

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The Subjective Side of Aging: Age Identity

“The years teach much which the days never knew.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson Many people have a subjective inner sense of being older or younger than their chronological age.  This subjective side of aging is termed age identity… the age that someone feels like they are.  What do you think makes the difference between a 30…

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9 Basic Defense Mechanisms

“Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering.” – Carl Jung We all engage in various forms of self-deception.  Defense mechanisms protect us not only from other people, but from knowledge within ourselves that we are not yet ready to face. Many of our defense mechanisms operate out of conscious awareness or simply happen so…

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Passive Aggression Toward the Self

 “We all have a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.” – Jane Austen When you begin to move towards a desired direction in your life, there is often an accompanying sense of excitement, anxiety, and hesitancy.  Everything that is “new” is “unknown” in some way,…

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Stop Self-Sabotage for Good – Part Two

“But I do nothing upon myself, and yet I am my own executioner.” – John Donne In my last post, “Stop Self-Sabotage for Good – Part One,” I explored two main types of self-sabotaging behaviors identified in the October 2011 issue of Psychology Today: dodging emotions and procrastination.  We all engage in various forms of…

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Stop Self-Sabotage for Good – Part One

“Self-destruction is the effect of cowardice in the highest extreme.” – Daniel Defoe Have you had the experience of shooting yourself in the foot?  How about stabbing yourself in the back?  Often times, the enemy that we least expect to do us harm lies within.  We have all had the experience of getting in our…

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