PSY311 Lecture 2 Jan 8, 2014
Methods of study:
- (Meta) analysis of studies of distinct age groups
o Library/statistical type of study
Goals of Research:
- Exploration: to determine whether or not a phenomenon exists
o Ex. Studying families of the same sex (whether or not attachment happens, etc.)
- Description: examining a phenomenon to more fully define it or to differentiate it from
o Second step from exploration
o Ex: going to the mall phenomenon (do people only go there to shop?).
- Prediction: identifying relationships that enable us to speculate about one thing by
knowing about some other thing
o In child development: age (variable) used to predict another variable like
vocabulary development, emotional reactions, etc.
o But prediction doesn’t explain the phenomenon, all we can say is that the two are
relation to one another, not causal relationships
o Prediction research extremely prevalent in social development, very few cases of
causality in field (most research is correlational).
Keep in mind when writing paper (ex. Try to avoid ‘This causes this’).
- Explanation: examining cause and effect relationships
o Random assignments into two different groups: experiment and control
o Age comparison always correlational
Descriptive methods are always popular as a result of:
- Based upon observation (ex. studying one year old).
- Naturalistic observation
- Urgent and applied need for descriptive information about age changes
- Influence of ethology (description, classification and analysis of animal behaviour).
- Electronic recording which permits observation and analysis of complex behaviour
o Ex. Interaction between mom/dad and child o Sophisticated/objective research
What is naturalistic observation?
- The study of behaviour in its natural setting (field study):
o First step in understanding behaviour
o More natural and realistic than experiment or questionnaire
Not participating in experiment, not being put in a condition that would
make you react in an expected way
Questionnaire: forced to make a choice
o Appropriate for studying children because they are prone to behaving differently
in an unnatural setting.
Ex: in a new setting children will cry and cling on to parents
o Its main limitation is the lack of control over any of the variables involved
Ex: observing children in a playground (everyday: a different set of kids,
weather, teacher present/not present, etc.)
o As a result it is suitable