Developmental psychology



Different RM's are used depending on what's being studied


1)NATURALISTIC OBSERVATION takes place in the child's own environment and none of the variables are manipulated- EG parents writing down their child's behaviour in a dairy.

ADVANTAGE- ECOLOGICAL VALIDITY- Behaviour will be natural because the subject is in a real-life familiar setting.

DISADVANTAGE- EXTRANEOUS VARIABLES- There's no control over the variables, so you can't be sure what caused your results.

2) With CONTROLLED OBSERVATION the child is observed by a researcher, usually in a lab setting. Some of the variables are controlled- EG a child might be given a certain toy to play with and observed through a one-way mirror.

ADVANTAGE- The effect of EXTRANEOUS VARIABLES is minimised, so you're more likely to be able to establish cause and effect.

DISADVANTAGE- OBSERVER BIAS- The observer's expectations may affect what they focus on and record, so the reliability of the results might be a problem. Another observer might have come up with very different results.


VARIABLES often rise and fall together- EG Height and Weight usually rise together as a child grows. But this doesn't mean that one of variable CAUSES another to change- that's pretty important to remember. The data for correlational studies often comes from surveys, questionnaires and interviews.

ADVANTAGE- ETHICAL- you can study variables that would be unethical to manipulate, EG whether there's a relationship between smoking during pregnancy and low birthweight.

DISADVANTAGE- CASUAL RELATIONSHIPS- These can't be assumed from a correlation. results may be caused my a third unknown variable.

CASE STUDIES are detailed descriptions of one person

1) CLINICAL INTERVIEWS are used a lot in developmental psychology. They're SEMI-STRUCTURED, meaning that the researcher asks some specific questions, but also lets the p ramble on about stuff.

2) P's could be children, or their carers, teachers or parents.

3) Face-to-face interviews can include open-ended (non-specific) or fixed (specific) questions.

ADVANTAGE- RICH DATA- especially from open-ended questions.

DISADVANTAGE- P'S- children can have implicit knowledge bbut be unable to verbalise it, so their skills can be underestimated.


Two main kinds of experimental designs are used to work out how behaviour changes with age- longitudinal and cross-sectional. These are used alongside the research method.


1) A LONGITUDINAL DESIGN tests the same people repeatedly as they get older and wrinklier.

2) This means you can plot the GROUP AVERAGE as a function of age. It also allows you to look at the development of INDIVIDUALS within the group.

3) Researchers can then look at whether the data shows a GRADUAL CHANGE, or a more sudden shift that suggests STAGE-LIKE DEVELOPMENT.

4) Longitudinal designs can be RETROSPECTIVE. This involves looking back over a period of time- EG looking at a child's medical history.

ADVANTAGE- you get detailed data about the same people, and individual differences are taken into account.

DISADV- studying the developement of the same people can take…


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