Effects of Day-Care essay

Research into the effects (negative and positive) of day-care

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Alex Cavan
Outline and Evaluate Research into the Effects of Day-Care on
Social Development (e.g. aggression, peer relations).
There has been quite a lot of research into the effects of day-care, both positive and negative.
Vandell et al for instance, reported that children in higher quality day-care had fewer negative
experiences, like bullying, as opposed to those in lower quality day-care. This was a naturalistic
experiment and was therefore, highly ecologically valid. However, as it was performed in 1988, it
may well be that circumstances have changed and the results are now less reliable. Another one
would be Schweinhart et al who found lower rates of general criminality in those who had been
involved in the Perry Preschool Project for disadvantaged children. This was a longitudinal study
which adds to the reliability of the results, but it was only a study of 66 people which isn't a lot, so
the reliability factor suffers there. Finally, Creps and Vernon-Feagans found that infants placed into
day-care before the age of 6 months were more sociable later in life, indicating that day-care
promotes social development. This was done fairly recently, in 1999, so the ecological validity is
high, but as they studied 6 month year old babies, they couldn't obtain permission from them. This is
unethical and therefore throws the validity of the results into jeopardy because of the possibility of
participant reactivity.
This leads neatly into the research that casts day-care in a more negative light. This includes
Belsky and Rovine who found a correlation between insecurely attached infants and being put in 20+
hours of day-care a week before the 1st birthday. This is a highly reliable test because they used the
Strange Situation (SS), a certified method that yields reliable results, but it may be out of date now
because it was done in 1988. Violata and Russell did a meta-analysis of 88 studies, finding that 20+
hours of day-care a week had an unmistakeably negative effect on socio-emotional, developmental,
behavioural and attachmental development of children. This was a considerably large meta-analysis,
increasing the reliability, but meta-analyses use secondary data which can be less reliable because
the means used to obtain the data can be difficult to ascertain. Finally, a 2001 NICHD report says that
maternal deprivation for periods of time longer than 10 hours a week in infants causes higher
aggression in the kindergarten stage. This was a recent, so in that respect ecologically valid, study
but it was done in the USA so the results may not be applicable to here in the UK.
In conclusion, the research seems to all point that day-care for more than 20 hours a week in
infants causes malattachment and social warping in them when they grow up.


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