What Makes a Person an Individual?

The line between individualism and group behavior in humans is not distinct, but people with individual qualities exhibit less cohesive behavior, have more responsibility for their actions and have different opinions from peers and colleagues in preferred outcomes and plans in group settings, according to Northwestern University. To measure individual characteristics, researchers generally look at how much one person's thoughts and actions deviate from collective group ideologies.

Groups of people are characterized by cohesion and desire to minimize conflict to reach a common goal. People in groups also show less enthusiasm for engaging in risky moral behavior. Individuals, in contrast, may not act in a manner conducive to reaching a shared goal or vision. They accept greater responsibility for their behavior and do not exhibit an economy of mind, which postulates that people sacrifice some of their personal desires for the benefit of a group goal.