Developmental Approach (4)
Weakness of the Developmental approach: A problem with the developmental approach is a tendency to generalise findings from often very limited samples. The developmental approach often looks for general patterns of development based on non representative samples. Freud, for example argued that all children experience psychosexual stages based on case studies such as the one carried out on little Hans and his own introspections. Samuel and Bryant generalised their findings about cognitive development from children in one town in the UK which ignores cultural differences relating to how children may learn in other parts of the world. However, many studies such as the one carried out by Bandura have been replicated in other cultures again showing the importance of role models on shaping children’s behaviour. A further limitation with the developmental approach is the validity of measuring children’s behaviour and thoughts. We can therefore question if psychologists are actually measuring what they are attempting to measure especially as children may have qualitatively different thoughts to adults. For example, Bandura’s study could be criticised for interpreting the children’s behaviour towards the Bobo doll as aggression. Perhaps the children interpreted their own behaviour as play. Similarly we can question Freud’s interpretation of Hans’ behaviour as the case study is really Freud's interpretations of Hans' father's interpretation of his son's own phobia. Again this seriously reduces the validity of the study. However, the study by Samuel and Bryant could be seen as a more valid measurement of cognitive development as they were using tests that children in pre-schools and schools would be familiar with and such conservation tasks on a number of different materials are recognised ways of measuring the cognitive development of children.