PSYC 1000 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Sex Organ, Prenatal Development

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28 Jul 2016
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Part Four: Human Development
Module 18: How is Developmental Psychology Studied?
Module 19: Understanding How We Develop
Module 20: Heredity and Prenatal Development
Module 21: Infancy and Childhood
Module 22: Adolescence
Module 23: Adulthood
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Module 18: How is Developmental Psychology Studied?
Developmental Psychology: The study of changes in behaviour and mental processes over time
and the factors that influence the course of those constancies and changes.
Working with people who are growing and developing over time requires researchers to devise
a research design that will allow them to assess how individuals change (or remain the same)
over time, regardless of what they hope to assess. The cross-sectional design, and longitudinal
design.
Cross-Sectional Design:
Researchers compare groups of different aged people to one another at a single point in
time.
For example, they might compare a group of 60 year olds to a group of 30 year olds on a
memory task to see how memory changes over time.
Benefit:
o easy and straightforward, convenient for both researchers and participants.
Problems:
o Assumes any changes found in a study are the result of age. Researchers must
remember to also consider other factors that might influence their results.
o Example: when comparing the memory of the age groups above, if the task was
computer based and the 30 year olds perform better on the task, the
researchers might conclude it is because of age. It doesn’t consider the fact that
the 30 year olds are more familiar with and less intimidated by computers than
some 60 year olds.
These sorts of differences are called cohort effects.
A cohort is any group of people born at about the same time.
People of a particular cohort will be affected by the cultural and
historical changes to which they were exposed.
If 2 groups in your study come from different cohorts, you cannot
be sure whether the differences are due to development or
cohort differences.
o Does not provide much explanation of how or when age-related changes may
have occurred.
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Longitudinal Design:
Many researchers prefer this method
Allows researchers to follow the same group of people over a period of time,
administering the same tasks or questionnaires to them at different points in their lives
to see how their responses change.
Benefit:
o Researchers can be reasonably confident that the observed changes are a
function of time and developmental experiences.
Problem:
o Require considerable time and money.
o Many participants drop out of the study over the course of their lives because
they move away, lose interest, become ill, or even die.
o Cohort effect poses a problem here as well.
Individuals being followed belong to a single cohort; so, although age
effects can be observed in the cohort group under study, there is no way
to know whether the observations can be generalized to other cohort
groups.
Cohort-Sequential Design:
Combines both the cross-sectional and longitudinal methods.
Comprises 2 or more longitudinal studies, each covering the same spans of time but
conducted with different age groups.
For example, to compare patterns in alcohol use, one study followed children from 3
age groups for 4 years. One group was followed from age 9 to 12, another from ages 11
to 14, and another from ages 14 to 16. By using this design, the researchers could
measure any differences between the groups that persisted over time, but in different
cohort groups. However, because of the age overlap among groups over time, they
could also look at differences that might result from age.
Cross-Sectional Design: a research approach that compares groups of different aged people to
one another.
Longitudinal Design: A research approach that follows the same people over a period of time
by administering the same tasks or questionnaires and seeing how their responses change.
Cohort-Sequential Design: Blended cross-sectional and longitudinal research, designed to look
at how individuals from different age groups compare to one another and to follow them over
time.
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