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DEP 2004 Lecture 1: Studying Human Development. Corresponds to Chapter 1 Text Readings. Erica Jordan, Ph.D., University of West Florida
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DEP 2004 Lecture 1:Studying Human Development Corresponds to Chapter 1 Text Readings Erica Jordan, Ph.D., University of West Florida Based on material from Human Development: A Cultural Approach (Arnett, 2011) and Human Development: A Life-Span View (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2008) unless otherwise noted.
Chapter 1 Guiding Questions • What is human development? • What key concepts are considered in human development? • How do researchers study human development? • What factors must be considered when designing a research study in the field of human development?
What is human development? • Field of study investigating how people change and remain the same over time. • Examines humans from before the cradle to the grave. • This field is multidisciplinary, meaning it takes into account many different forces that may influence how people develop. • Study of both typical and atypical development.
Recurring Issues in Human Development The focus of these issues is not “either-or.” The focus of the issues can better be described as “to what degree” does each factor influence development. • Nature and Nurture • Continuity and Discontinuity • Universal and Context-Specific Development
Nature • The extent to which heredity (inherited traits or genes influences the development of a person). • Nurture • The extent to which factors in the environment influence the development of a person. Many psychological characteristics (such as aggression) have been found to be influenced by both heredity and the environment.
Continuity • The extent to which development occurs as a smooth progression or the extent to which a variable is relatively stable over time. • Discontinuity • The extent to which development occurs in abrupt shifts or the extent to which a variable changes significantly over time. When determining if a developmental phenomenon is continuous or discontinuous, it often depends on the way you choose to view the phenomenon.
Universal Development • Concept that development occurs in a relatively similar manner for all individuals • Context-Specific Development • Concept that development may vary significantly and does not occur similarly for all individuals All people tend to change in similar ways as they age (universal). However, people in some cultures develop some gross motor skills earlier (context-specific).
Using Theories to Study Human Development • What is a theory? • Organized set of ideas • Developmental theories are ideas that attempt to explain development • Theories represent what we think we know so far based on scientific evidence
There are many theories in the field of human development… Most fall under one of these major theoretical perspectives: • Psychodynamic Theory • Learning Theory • Cognitive-Developmental Theory • The Ecological and Systems Approach • The Lifespan and Life-Course Perspective These theoretical perspectives provide guidance for research in the field of human development.
Common Research Methods Used When Studying Human Development • Questionnaire • Interview • Observation • Ethnographic research • Case study • Biological measurement • Experiment • Natural experiment
Questionnaires & Interviews • Self-Reported—participants answer questions about themselves or about the topic of study in an interview or survey/questionnaire format • Examples: • Potential problems: • Participants are not always accurate in their responses for a variety of reasons • Forgetting • Response bias (tell the researcher what is socially desirable or what they believe the researcher wants to hear) • Misunderstanding/misreading the question • May not want to answer the question • Participants may also simply be unaware of certain behaviors that they display
Observations (2 Types) 1. Naturalistic Observation—observing people in real-life settings • Examples: • Potential problems (also see Table 1.4): • Presence of the observer may influence participants’ behaviors • Some behaviors are rare • Many behaviors are difficult to record (so that they may be later analyzed) because they are so complex and occur rapidly; video technology has helped with this problem
2. Structured Observation—observing people in a lab or another environment that has been structured/created by the researcher • Examples: • Potential problems: • Presence of observer • Novel (and often unnatural) environment • Many behaviors are complex and only certain behaviors can be coded
Ethnographic Research • Researcher immerses themselves (as much as possible) in the group of people that they are studying • Advantages: • Much more comprehensive and contextual data • Disadvantages: • Extremely time-consuming and demands lots of resources
Case Study • Detailed account of a small number of individuals • Advantages: • Rich, detailed data • Disadvantage: • Sample may not generalize to the population because it is so small and has little variability • Can be costly • Time consuming
Biological Measurements • Examples: • Measuring heart rate and respiratory rate during standardized testing • Measuring an artists’ brain patterns when they are painting a picture • Measuring blood pressure to compare it to variables such as diet and exercise frequency • Advantages: • Can provide precise and accurate measurements • Potential problems: • Very specific • Can be very expensive • Requires the upmost precision to ensure that physiological responses are occurring because of the variable of interest and are not due to some other factor
Experimental Studies • Involve manipulating an independent variable • Participants are assigned to either an experimental group or a control group • Advantage: • Because variables are manipulated by the researcher, we can make stronger claims about causation. • Some may occur naturally. • Disadvantage: • Not all variables can be examined this way in an ethical manner.
What research design is it anyway? • Cross-sectional • Longitudinal • Sequential Please note that there are other research designs, but we will only discuss these.
Longitudinal vs. Cross-sectional vs. Sequential Design (An Example) • You are interested in the effects of divorce on children’s social and academic functioning. • Cross-sectional: You might collect data one time from a group of children whose parents divorced and a group of children whose parents did not divorce. • Longitudinal: You might follow a group of 20 children for a period of 50 years, collecting data from them a few times each year beginning when they are 3 years old. Ideally, you would begin collecting data before the parents of the children divorced. • Sequential: You might initially follow a group of children for 50 years, collecting data from them a few times each year. A few years later, you would collect data from a new cohort of children in addition to collecting additional data from the first group of children. Both groups would continue to be retested each year. This design also helps to answer questions related to “cohort effects.”
Things to Remember… • Ethical Considerations • Reliability • Does the measurement technique measure a variable consistently in the same way? Do you always get the same answer after you measure the variable? • Validity • Is the measurement technique accurate? • CorrelationalStudies • Correlation does not equal causation! We cannot simply conclude that one variable causes another just because they are related. We can make inferences, but further studies are needed to draw definitive conclusions.