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Methods Studying Child Development.docx

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PSYC 302

Methods for Studying Child Development A. The Scientific Method • An approach to testing beliefs that involves: o 1. Choosing a question o 2. Formulating a hypothesis (i.e., an educated guess) o 3. Testing the hypothesis o 4. Drawing a conclusion Importance ofAppropriate Measurement • Relevance to Hypotheses • Reliability • Validity Reliability • The degree to which independent measurements of a given behavior are consistent • Interrater reliability: The amount of agreement in the observations of different raters who witness the same behavior • Test-retest reliability: Attained when measures of performance are similar on two or more occasions Validity • Degree to which a test or experiment measures what it is intended to measure • Researchers strive for two types of validity: o Internal validity: the degree to which effects observed within experiments can be attributed to the variables that the researcher intentionally manipulated o External validity: the degree to which results can be generalized beyond the particulars of the research (is realistic and applicable to real life situations) B. Contexts for Gathering Data about Infants • Interviews • Naturalistic Observation • Structured Observation 1. Interviews • Structured interview:Aresearcher procedure in which all participants are asked to answer the same questions • Clinical interview:Aprocedure in which questions are adjusted in accord with the answers the interviewee provides • Caveat:Although interviews yield a great deal of data quite quickly and can provide in-depth information about individual children, the answers to interview questions are often biased. 2. Naturalistic Observation • Used when the primary goal of research is to describe how infants behave in their usual environments • Limitations o Because naturally occurring contexts vary on many dimensions, it is often hard to know which ones influenced the behavior of interest o Also, many behaviors occur only occasionally in everyday environments, and so researchers’opportunities to study them through naturalistic observation are reduced 3. Structured Observation • Involves presenting an identical situation to a number of children and recording each child’s behavior • Enables direct comparisons of different children’s behavior • Making it possible to establish the generality of behavior across different tasks • Limitation o Does not provide as much information about children’s subjective experiences o Does not provide as natural situation C. Correlational & Causation • The primary goal of studies that use correlational designs is to determine how variables are related to one another. • Acorrelation is the association between two variables. • The direction and strength of a correlation is measured by a statistic called the correlation coefficient. Correlation ≠ Causation • Direction-of-causation problem o It is not possible to tell from a correlation which variable is the cause and which is the effect • Third-variable problem o Acorrelation between two variables may arise from both being influenced by some third variable Experimental Designs • Allow inferences about causes and effects • Rely on random assignment, a procedure in which each child has an equal chance of being assigned to any group within an experiment • Experimental control refers to the ability of the researcher to determine the specific experiences that children have during the course of an experiment. o Children in the experimental group receive an experience of interest, the independent variable. o Control group does not receive this experience. o The dependent variable is a behavior that is hypothesized to be affected by the independent variable. D. Designs for Examining Development • Cross-Sectional • Longitudinal • Microgenetic 1. Cross-Sectional Designs • Children of different ages are compared on a given behavior or characteristic over a short period of time 2. Longitudinal Designs • Used when the same children are studied twice or more over a substantial period of time 3. Microgenetic Designs • Used to provide an in-depth depiction of processes that produce change • In this approach, children who are thought to be on the verge of an important developmental change are provided with heightened exposure to the type of existence that is believed to produce the change and are studied intensely while their behavior is in transition E. Ethical Issues in Child-Development Research • Researchers have a vital responsibility to anticipate potential risks that the children in their studies may encounter, to minimize such risks, and to make sure that the benefits of the research outweigh the potential harm. F. Common Procedures for Studying Infants Preference • Choosing what they like/dislike • Side-by-Side o Infants indicate their preference by looking or reaching toward the preferred stimuli • Sequential o Infants indicate their preference by looking/playing longer with one sequentially presented stimuli over another o Average looking time across individuals o Longer looks to one indicates preference o Approximately equal looks indicated no preference Discrimination • Able to discriminate • Habituation/response to novelty o Same stimuli is presented repeatedly until looking time declines to a preset criterion (50%) o Test stimuli is played following habituation o Recovery is indicated by an increase in looking time • Oddball procedure o String of visuals or sounds is repeated with an occasional presentation of new stimuli Interaction • Caregiver/Infant o Maternal sensitivity or intrusiveness o Dyadic patterns – synchronous? • Toy o Amount of time spent exploring new toy or object o Type of manipulation with new object • Responsiveness
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