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Wilfrid Laurier University
Carolyn Ensley

PS275 COURSE REVIEW CHAPTER 1: HISTORY, THEORY AND APPLIED DIRECTIONS child development: an area of study devoted to understanding constancy and change from conception through adolescence. Child development is part of a larger, interdisciplinary field known as Developmental science, which includes all changes we experience throughout the lifespan Common goal of all researchers: to describe and identify those factors that influence the consistencies and changes in young people during the first two decades of life Each question in child psychology has scientific, applied and practical importance. Research about development has been stimulated by social pressures to better the lives of childen. Child psychology is interdisciplinary because it has grown through the combined efforts of people from many fields. Developmental is often divided into three broad domains: physical, cognitive and emotional and social. Physical development: changes in body size, proportions, appearance, functioning of body systems, perceptual and motor capacities and physical health Cognitive development: changes in intellectual abilities, including attention memory, academic and everyday knowledge, problem solving, imagination, creativity and language Emotional and social development: changes in emotional communication, self understanding, knowledge about other people, interpersonal skills, friendships, intimate relationships, and more reasoning and behaviour Researchers usually use the following age periods, as each brings new capacities and social expectations that serve as important transitions in major theories: 1. The prenatal period: from conception to birth. In this nine- month period, the most rapid time of change, a one- celled organism is transformed into a human baby with remark-able capacities for adjusting to life in the surrounding world. 2. Infancy and toddlerhood: from birth to 2 years. This period brings dramatic changes in the body and brain that support the emergence of a wide array of motor, perceptual, and intellectual capacities; the beginnings of language; and first intimate ties to others. Infancy spans the first year; toddlerhood spans the second, during which children take their first independent steps, marking a shift to greater autonomy. 3. Early childhood: from 2 to 6 years. The body becomes longer and leaner, motor skills are refined, and children become more self- controlled and self- sufficient. Make- believe play blossoms, supporting every aspect of psychological development. Thought and language expand at an astounding pace, a sense of morality becomes evident, and children establish ties with peers. 4. Middle childhood: from 6 to 11 years. Children learn about the wider world and master new responsibilities that increasingly resemble those they will perform as adults. Hallmarks of this period are improved athletic abilities, participation in organized games with rules, more logical thought processes, mastery of basic literacy skills, and advances in self- understanding, morality, and friendship. 5. Adolescence: from 11 to 18 years. This period initiates the transition to adulthood. Puberty leads to an adult- sized body and sexual maturity. Thought becomes abstract and idealistic, and schooling is increasingly directed toward preparation for higher education and the world of work. Young people begin to establish autonomy from the family and define personal values and goals. For many contemporary youths in industrialized nations, the transition to adult roles has become increasingly prolonged— so much so that some researchers have posited a new period of development called: 6. emerging adulthood: which spans ages 18 to 25. Although emerging adults have moved beyond adolescence, they have not yet fully assumed adult roles. Rather, during higher edu-cation and sometimes beyond, these young people intensify their exploration of options in love, career, and personal values before making enduring commitments. Research on child development did not begin until the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. But ideas about how children grow and change have a much longer history. A theory is an orderly, integrated set of statements that describes, explains, and predicts behaviour. Theories are vital tools for two reasons. First, they provide organizing frameworks for our observations of children. In other words, they guide and give meaning to what we see. Second, theories that are verified by research often serve as a sound basis for practical action. Once a theory helps us understand development, we are in a much better position to know how to improve the welfare and treatment of children. A theory’s continued existence depends on scientific verification. In other words, every theory must be tested using a fair set of research procedures agreed on by the scientific community, and its findings must endure, or be replicated over time. Although there are many theories, we can easily organize them by looking at the stand they take on three basic issues: ( 1) Is the course of development continuous or discontinuous? ( 2) Does one course of development characterize all children, or are there many possible courses? ( 3) Are genetic or environmental factors more important in influencing development? Continuous or discontinuous development continuous— a process of gradually add-ing more of the same types of skills that were there to begin with. Infants and preschoolers respond to the world in much the same way adults do. The difference between the immature and mature being is simply one of amount or complexity. discontinuous— a process in which new ways of understanding and responding to the world emerge at specific times. From this perspective, Angelo is not yet able to organize objects or remember and interpret experiences as we do. Instead, he will move through a series of developmental steps, each with unique features, until he reaches the highest level of functioning. Is development continuous or discontinuous? ( a) Some theorists believe that development is a smooth, continuous process. Children gradually add more of the same types of skills. ( b) Other theorists think that development takes place in discontinuous stages. Children change rapidly as they step up to a new level of development and then change very little for a while. With each step, the child interprets and responds to the world in a qualitatively different way. Theories that accept the discontinuous perspective regard development as taking place in stages— qualitative changes in thinking, feeling, and behaving that characterize specific periods of development. In stage theories, development is much like climbing a staircase, with each step corresponding to a more mature, reorganized way of functioning. The stage concept also assumes that children undergo periods of rapid transformation as they step up from one stage to the next, alternating with plateaus during which they stand solidly within a stage. Stage theorists assume that people everywhere follow the same sequence of development. Nature Vs. Nurture Are genetic or environmental factors more important in influencing development? This is the age- old nature– nurture controversy. By nature, we mean inborn biological givens— the hereditary information we receive from our parents at the moment of conception. By nurture, we mean the complex forces of the physical and social world that influence our biological makeup and psychological experiences before and after birth. Some theorists emphasize stability— that children who are high or low in a characteristic ( such as verbal ability, anxiety, or sociability) will remain so at later ages. These theorists typically stress the importance of heredity. If they regard environment as important, they usually point to early experiences as establishing a lifelong pattern of behaviour. Powerful negative events in the first few years, they argue, cannot be fully overcome by later, more positive ones Other theorists, taking a more optimistic view, emphasize that change is possible and even likely if new experiences support it Biology and Environment resilience— the ability to adapt effectively in the face of threats to development— is receiving increasing attention as investigators look for ways to protect young people from the damaging effects of stressful life conditions A child’s biologically endowed characteristics can reduce exposure to risk or lead to experiences that compensate for early stressful events. High intelligence and socially valued talents ( in music or athletics, for example) increase the chances that a child will have rewarding experiences in school and in the community that offset the impact of a stressful home life Temperament is particularly powerful. Children who have easygoing, sociable dispositions and who can readily inhibit negative emotions and impulses tend to have an optimistic outlook on life and a special capacity to adapt to change— qualities that elicit positive responses from others. In contrast, emotionally reactive and irritable children often tax the patience of people around them A close relationship with at least one parent who provides warmth, appropriately high expectations, monitoring of the child’s activities, and an organized home environment fosters resilience The most consistent asset of resilient children is a strong bond with a competent, caring adult. Community supports— good schools, convenient and affordable health care and social services, libraries, and recreation centers— foster both parents’ and children’s well- being. In addition, opportunities to participate in community life help older children and adolescents overcome adversity. Contemporary theories of child development are the result of centuries of change in Western cultural values, philosophical thinking about children, and scientific progress. Historical artifacts and writings show that childhood was regarded as a separate period of life as early as medieval Europe— the sixth through the fifteenth centuries. Medieval painters often depicted children wearing loose, comfortable gowns, playing games, and looking up to adults. Written texts contained terms that distinguished children under age 7 or 8 from other people and that recognized even young teenagers as not fully mature. By the fourteenth cen-tury, manuals offering advice on many aspects of child care, including health, feeding, cloth-ing, and games, were common. Laws recognized that children needed protection from people who might mistreat them, and courts exercised leniency with lawbreaking youths because of their tender years. In sum, in medieval times, if not before, clear awareness existed of children as vulnerable beings. The Reformation In the sixteenth century, the Puritan belief in original sin gave rise to the view that children were born evil and stubborn and had to be civilized. Harsh, restrictive child- rearing practices were recommended to tame the depraved child. Children were dressed in stiff, uncomfortable clothing that held them in adultlike postures, and dis-obedient students were routinely beaten by their schoolmasters. The Puritans were the first to devise special reading materials for children that instructed them in religious and moral ideals. The Philosophies of the Enlightenment The seventeenth- century Enlightenment brought new philosophies that emphasized ideals of human dignity and respect. Conceptions of childhood were more humane than those of the past. John Locke viewed the child as a tabula rasa— Latin for “ blank slate.” According to this idea, children begin as nothing at all; their characters are shaped entirely by experience. Locke saw parents as rational tutors who can mold the child in any way they wish through care-ful instruction, effective example, and rewards for good behaviour. He was ahead of his time in recommending child- rearing practices that present- day research supports— for example, the use of praise and approval as rewards, rather than money or sweets. He also opposed physical punishment: “ Locke’s philosophy led to a change from harshness toward children to kindness and compassion. He viewed development as continuous. His view of the child as a tabula rasa led him to champion nurture— the power of the environment to shape the child. And his faith in nurture suggests the possibility of many courses of development and of change at later ages due to new experiences. Finally, Locke’s philosophy characterizes children as doing little to influence their own destiny, which is written on “ blank slates” by others. Jean Rousseau introduced a new view of childhood. He claimed, are not blank slates and empty containers to be filled by adult instruction. Instead, they are noble savages, naturally endowed with a sense of right and wrong and with an innate plan for orderly, healthy growth. Unlike Locke, Rousseau believed that children’s built-in moral sense and unique ways of thinking and feeling would only be harmed by adult training. His was a child- centered philosophy in which adults should be receptive to the child’s needs at each of four stages: infancy, childhood, late childhood, and adolescence. Rousseau’s philosophy includes two influential concepts. The first is the concept of stage, which we discussed earlier. The second is the concept of maturation, which refers to a genetically determined, naturally unfolding course of growth. He viewed development as a discontinuous, stagewise process that follows a single, unified course mapped out by nature. Scientific beginnings The study of child development evolved quickly in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Darwin's theory of evolution: The theory emphasized two related principles: natural selection and survival of the fittest. Darwin explained that certain species survive in particular parts of the world because they have characteristics that fit with, or are adapted to, their surroundings. -scientific child study was born through darwins study -early recordings of child studies were emotionally invested and the recorders often did not know what they were looking for G Stanley Hall is regarded as the founder of the child study movement. He regarded child development as a maturational process— a genetically deter-mined series of events that unfold automatically, much like a flower Alfred Binet took a normative approach to studying child development. In 1916, at Stanford University, Binet’s test was adapted for use with English- speaking children. Since then, the English version has been known as the Stanford- Binet Intelligence Scale. Besides providing a score that could successfully predict school achievement, the Binet test sparked tremendous interest in individual differences in development. James Mark Baldwin: He believed that children’s understanding of their physical and social worlds develops through a sequence of stages, beginning with the simplest behaviour patterns of the newborn infant and concluding with the adult’s capacity to think abstractly and reflectively. He granted nature and nurture equal importance. Children, he argued, actively revise their ways of thinking about the world, but they also learn through habit, or by copying others’ behaviours. As development proceeds, the child and her social surroundings influence each other, forming an inseparable, interwoven network. Mid 20th Century Theories -mid 20th century the child development field expanded into a legitimate field - The Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) was stabled in 1933 The Psychoanalytic Perspective: - In the 1930s-40s parents were seeking professional help in dealing with children's emotional difficulties According to the psychoanalytic perspective- children move through a series of stages in which they confront conflicts between biological drives and social expectations. How these conflicts are resolved determines the person's ability to learn, to get along with others and to cope with anxiety. Freud's psychosexual theory- this emphasizes how parents manage their chid's sexual aggressive drive in the first few years is crucial for healthy personality development. His theory consisted of three parts: id, ego, and superego. The id is the largest portion of the mind, is the source of biological needs and desires. The ego, the conscious, rational part of personality, emerges early in infancy to redirect the id's impulses so they are discharged in acceptable ways. Between 3-6 years the superego, or conscience develops through interactions with parents, who insists that children conform to the values of society. According to Freud, the relations established between the id, ego and superego during the preschool years determine the individual's basic personality. Erickson's theory: expanded Freud's theory at each stage. In his psychosocial theory, Erikson emphasized that in addition to mediating between id impulses and superego demands, the ego makes a positive contribu-tion to development, acquiring attitudes and skills at each stage that make the individual an active, contributing member of society. Unlike Freud, Erikson pointed out that normal development must be understood in relation to each culture’s life situation. He was the first to recognize the lifespan nature of development His stages include: Basic trust- mistrust: 0-1 Autonomy- shame: 1-3 Initiative- guilt: 3-6 Industry- inferiority: 6-11 Identity- confusion: adolescence Intimacy-isolation: young adult Generativity- stagnation: middle adult Integrity- despair: old age Strengths of Psychoanalytic perspective: - the emphasis on the individual's unique life history as worthy of study and understanding -accepts the clinical, case study or method which synthesizes information from a variety of sources into a detailed picture of the personality of a single child Weaknesses: -they failed to consider other methods -subjects are so vague they are difficult or impossible to test Behaviourism and Social Leaning Theory According to behaviourism, directly observable events— stimuli and responses— are the appropriate focus of study. North American behaviourism began in the early twentieth century with the work of psychologist John Watson ( 1878– 1958), who, rejecting the psychoanalytic concern with the unseen workings of the mind, set out to create an objective science of psychology. Watson concluded that environment is the supreme force in development and that adults can mold children’s behaviour by carefully con-trolling stimulus– response associations. He viewed development as a continuous process, consisting of a gradual increase with age in the number and strength of these associations. Another form of behaviourism was American psychologist B. F. Skinner’s ( 1904– 1990) operant conditioning theory. According to Skinner, the frequency of a behaviour can be increased by following it with a wide variety of reinforcers— food, drink, praise, a friendly smile, or a new toy— or decreased through punishment, such as disapproval or withdrawal of privileges. Observational learning- Albert Bandura: what a child sees a child does (modelling) The most recent revision of Bandura’s ( 1992, 2001) theory places such strong emphasis on how children think about themselves and other people that he calls it a social-cognitive rather than a social learning approach. From watching others engage in self- praise and self- blame and through feedback about the worth of their own actions, children develop personal standards for behaviour and a sense of self- efficacy— the belief that their own abilities and characteristics will help them succeed. Contributions and Limitations Behaviour modification consists of procedures that combine conditioning and modelling to eliminate undesirable behaviours and increase desirable responses. Limitations: offers to narrow a view of important environmental influences. These extend beyond immediate reinforcements, punishments and modelled behaviours to children's rich physical and social worlds. -It also underestimates children's contributions to their own learning Piaget's cognitive developmental theory Piaget did not believe that children’s learning depends on reinforcers, such as rewards from adults. According to his cognitive- developmental theory, children actively construct knowledge as they manipulate and explore their world. Sensorimotor Birth– 2 years: Infants “ think” by acting on the world with their eyes, ears, hands, and mouth. As a result, they invent ways of solving sensorimotor problems, such as pulling a lever to hear the sound of a music box, finding hidden toys, and putting objects into and taking them out of containers. Preoperational 2– 7 years: Preschool children use symbols to represent their earlier sensori-motor discoveries. Development of language and make- believe play takes place. However, thinking lacks the logic of the two remaining stages. Concrete operational 7– 11 years: Children’s reasoning becomes logical and better organized. School- age children understand that a certain amount of lemonade or play dough remains the same even after its appearance changes. They also organize objects into hierarchies of classes and subclasses. However, thinking falls short of adult intelligence. It is not yet abstract. Formal operational 11 years on: The capacity for abstract, systematic thinking enables adolescents, when faced with a problem, to start with a hypothesis, deduce testable inferences, and isolate and combine variables to see which inferences are confirmed. Adolescents can also evaluate the logic of verbal statements without referring to real- world circumstances. Contributions and Limitations: Piaget’s theory encouraged the development of educational philosophies and programs that emphasize children’s discovery learning and direct contact with the environment. Research indicates that Piaget underestimated the competencies of infants and preschoolers. Recent Theoretical Perspectives Information processing: the human mind might also be viewed as a symbol- manipulating system through which information flows— a perspective called information processing. From the time information is presented to the senses at input until it emerges as a behavioural response at output, information is actively coded, transformed, and organized. Information- processing researchers often use flow-charts to map the precise steps individuals use to solve problems and complete tasks, much like the plans devised by programmers to get computers to perform a series of “ mental operations”. Like Piaget’s theory, the information- processing approach views children as actively making sense of their experiences and as modifying their own thinking in response to environ-mental demands. But unlike Piaget’s theory, it does not divide development into stages. Rather, the thought processes studied— perception, attention, memory, categorization of information, planning, problem solving, and comprehension of written and spoken prose— are regarded as similar at all ages but present to a lesser or greater extent. Therefore, the view of development is one of continuous change. developmental cognitive neuroscience: It brings together researchers from psychology, biology, neuroscience, and medicine to study the relationship between changes in the brain and the developing child’s cognitive processing and behaviour patterns. Ethology is concerned with the adaptive, or survival, value of behaviour and its evolutionary history. Its roots can be traced to the work of Darwin. Imprinting: the early following behaviour of certain baby birds, such as geese, which ensures that the young will stay close to the mother and be fed and protected from danger. Imprinting takes place during an early, restricted period of development. A sensitive period is a time that is optimal for certain capacities to emerge and in which the individual is especially responsive to environmental influences. However, its boundaries are less well- defined than those of a critical period. Development can occur later, but it is harder to induce. John Bowlby ( 1969) applied ethological theory to the understanding of the human infant– caregiver relationship. He argued that infant smiling, babbling, grasping, and crying are built- in social signals that encourage the caregiver to approach, care for, and interact with the baby. By keeping the parent near, these behaviours help ensure that the infant will be fed, protected from danger, and provided with stimulation and affection necessary for healthy growth. evolutionary developmental psychology: seeks to understand the adaptive value of species- wide cognitive, emotional, and social competencies as those competencies change with age Vygotsky’s perspective, known as sociocultural theory, focuses on how culture — the values, beliefs, customs, and skills of a social group— is transmitted to the next generation. According to Vygotsky, social interaction— in particular, cooperative dialogues between children and more knowledgeable members of society— is necessary for children to acquire the ways of thinking and behaving that make up a community’s culture. Vygotsky believed that as adults and more- expert peers help children master culturally meaningful activities, the communication between them becomes part of children’s thinking. Vygotsky agreed with Piaget that children are active, constructive beings. But whereas Piaget emphasized children’s independent efforts to make sense of their world, Vygotsky viewed cognitive development as a socially mediated process, in which children depend on assistance from adults and more- expert peers as they tackle new challenges. Urie Bronfenbrenner- Ecological systems theory: views the child as developing within a complex system of relationships affected by multiple levels of the surrounding environment. Because the child’s biologically influenced dispositions join with environmental forces to mould development, Bronfenbrenner recently characterized his perspective as a bio-ecological model. all relationships are bidirectional: Adults affect children’s behavior, but children’s biologically and socially influenced characteristics— their physical attributes, personalities, and capacities— also affect adults’ behavior. Different levels of this model include: The innermost level of the environment, the microsystem, consists of activities and interaction patterns in the child’s immediate surroundings. The second level of Bronfenbrenner’s model, the mesosystem, encompasses connections between microsystems, such as home, school, neighborhood, and child- care center. The exosystem consists of social settings that do not contain children but that nevertheless affect children’s experiences in imme-diate settings. The microsystem concerns relations between the child and the immediate environment; the mesosystem, connections among immediate settings; the exosystem, social settings that affect but do not contain the child; and the macrosystem, the values, laws, customs, and resources of the culture that affect activities and interactions at all inner layers. The chrono-system is not a specific context. Instead, it refers to the dynamic, ever- changing nature of the person’s environment. The macrosystem consists of cultural values, laws, customs, and resources. Rather than envisioning a single line of stagewise or continuous change, dynamic systems theorists conceive of development as a web of fibers branching out in many directions. Each strand in the web represents a skill within the major domains of development— physical, cognitive, and emotional/ social. The differing directions of the strands signify possible variations in paths and outcomes as the child masters skills necessary to participate in diverse contexts. The interconnections of the strands at each row of “ hills” portray stagelike changes— periods of major transformation in which various skills work together as a functioning whole. As the web expands, skills become more numerous, complex, and effective. dynamic systems perspective: According to this view, the child’s mind, body, and physical and social worlds form an integrated system that guides mastery of new skills. The system is dynamic, or constantly in motion. A change in any part of it— from brain growth to physical and social surroundings— disrupts the current organism– environment relation-ship. When this happens, the child actively reorganizes her behavior so the components of the system work together again but in a more complex, effective way The dynamic systems perspective views the child’s mind, body, and physical and social worlds as a continually reorganizing, integrated system. A change in any part of the system disrupts the current organism– environment relationship. As he experiences the physical, cognitive, and emotional changes of early adolescence, this boy and his father must devise new, more mature ways of relating to one another. Comparing theories First, they focus on different domains of development. Some, such as the psychoanalytic perspective and ethology, emphasize emotional and social development. Others, such as Piaget’s cognitive- developmental theory, information processing, and Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory, stress changes in thinking. The remaining approaches— behaviorism, social learning theory, evolutionary developmental psychology, ecological systems theory, and the dynamic systems perspective— discuss many aspects of children’s functioning. Second, every theory contains a point of view about child development. Read page 31 for comparison of all theories Child development and Social Policy Social policy is any planned set of actions by a group, institution, or governing body directed at attaining a social goal. When widespread social problems arise, nations attempt to solve them through a special type of social policy called public policy— laws and govern-ment programs aimed at improving current conditions. Chapter 2: Research Strategies Research usually begins with a prediction drawn from a theory, called a hypothesis. Why learn about research strategies: There are two reasons. First, each of us must be a wise and critical consumer of knowledge. Knowing the strengths and limitations of var-ious research strategies is important in separating dependable information from misleading results. Second, individuals who work directly with children may be in a unique position to build bridges between research and practice by conducting studies, either on their own or in partnership with experienced investigators. How does a researcher choose a basic approach to gathering information about children? Common methods include systematic observation, self- reports (such as questionnaires and interviews), clinical or case studies of a single child, and ethnographies of the life circumstances of a specific group of children. Systematic Observation One approach is to go into the field, or natural environment, and record the behavior of interest— a method called naturalistic observation. This is the observation of behaviour in natural contexts Naturalistic observation also has a major limitation: Not all children have the same opportunity to display a particular behavior in everyday life. Structured observation: Observation of behavior in a laboratory, where conditions are the same for all participants event sampling: the observer records all instances of a particular behavior during a specified time period. time sampling: In this procedure, the researcher records whether certain behaviors occur during a sample of short intervals. A major problem with systematic observation is observer influence— the effects of the observer on the behavior studied. To Minimize this: -researchers have observers visit the research setting so participants get use to setting -asks an individual who is part of child's environment to do observing Another serious danger is observer bias. When observers are aware of the purposes of a study, they may see and record what they expect to see rather than what participants actually do. -finally systematic observation does not explain underlying reasons for actions Self Reports Clinical interview: Flexible interviewing procedure in which the investigator obtains a complete account of the participant’s thoughts The clinical interview has two major strengths. First, it permits people to display their thoughts in terms that are as close as possible to the way they think in everyday life. Second, the clinical interview can provide a large amount of information in a fairly brief period. Weaknesses: People report more favourably about instances, and sometimes do not understand question. The questions are also flexible so one question may evoke one answer but another may evoke a different answer. Structured interview, questionnaires, and tests: Self- report instruments in which each participant is asked the same questions in the same way. Structured interviews do not yield the same depth of information as a clinical interview. And they can still be affected by the problem of inaccurate reporting. Psychophysiological Methods: Methods that measure the relationship between physiological processes and behavior. Investigators who rely on these methods want to find out which central nervous system structures contribute to development and individual differences. Psychophysiological methods also help investigators infer the perceptions, thoughts, and emotions of infants and young children, who cannot report their psychological experiences clearly. In preparing for an EEG, a researcher applies gel to electrodes before attaching them to a baby’s scalp. This method records the stability and organization of electrical brain-wave activity in the cerebral cortex. It can also be used to measure ERPs, the frequency and amplitude of brain waves in particular areas of the cerebral cortex in response to specific stimuli, such as music or speech. PET and fMRI are not suitable for infants and young children because they require that the child remain as motionless as possible on a narrow plank in an enclosed space filled with the noise of the surrounding machine for an extended time— often up to an hour. A new brain-imaging method that works well in infancy and early childhood is near- infrared optical topography ( NIROT), in which infrared ( invisible) light is beamed at regions of the cerebral cortex to measure blood flow and oxygen metabolism while the child attends to a stimulus Clinical, or Case Study, Method: A full picture of one individual’s psychological functioning, obtained by combining interviews, observations, test scores, and sometimes psycho-physiological assessments Ethnography: Participant observation of a culture or distinct social group; by making extensive field notes, the researcher tries to capture the culture’s unique values and social processes Reliability and Validity: Keys to Scientifically Sound Research Reliability refers to the consistency, or repeatability, of measures of behavior. To be reliable, observations and evaluations of peoples’ actions cannot be unique to a single observer. Instead, observers must agree on what they see. And an interview, test, or questionnaire, when given again within a short time (before participants could reasonably be expected to change their opinions or develop new responses), must yield similar results on both occasions. Two ways to make sure that research is reliable: test-retest reliability & inter- rater reliability For research methods to have high validity, they must accurately measure characteristics that the researcher set out to measure. Two types of validity: The first, internal validity, is the degree to which conditions internal to the design of the study permit an accurate test of the researcher’s hypothesis or question. Second, researchers must consider external validity, the degree to which their findings generalize to settings and participants outside the original study. General Research Designs Correlational designs: researchers gather information on individuals, generally in natural life circumstances, and make no effort to alter their experiences. Then they look at relation-ships between participants’ characteristics and their behavior or development. An experimental design permits inferences about cause and effect because researchers use an evenhanded procedure to assign people to two or more treatment conditions. In an experiment, the events and behaviors of interest are divided into two types: independent and dependent variables. The independent variable is the one the investigator expects to cause changes in another variable. The dependent variable is the one the investigator expects to be influenced by the independent variable. Researchers use random assignment of participants to treatment conditions. By using an un-biased procedure, such as drawing numbers out of a hat or flipping a coin, investigators increase the chances that participants’ characteristics will be equally distributed across treatment groups. matching: In this procedure, participants are measured ahead of time on the factor in question— in our example, exposure to parental conflict. Then children high and low on that factor are assigned in equal numbers to each treatment condition. In this way, the experimental groups are deliberately matched, or made equivalent, on characteristics that are likely to distort the results. In field experiments, researchers capitalize on opportunities to randomly assign participants to treatment conditions in natural settings. natural, or quasi-, experiments: comparing treatments that already exist, such as different family environments, schools, child- care centers, and preschool programs. These studies differ from correlational research only in that groups of people are carefully chosen to ensure that their characteristics are as much alike as possible. Designs for studying development In a longitudinal design, participants are studied repeatedly at different ages, and changes are noted as they get older. The longitudinal approach has two major strengths. First, because it tracks the performance of each person over time, researchers can identify common patterns as well as individual differences in development. Second, longitudinal studies permit investigators to examine relationships between early and later events and behaviors. Weaknesses of these studies: Biased sampling— the failure to enlist participants who represent the population of interest— is a common problem. selective attrition: Participants may move away or drop out for other reasons, and the ones who remain are likely to differ in important ways from the ones who do not continue. In addition, with repeated testing, participants may become “ test- wise.” Their performance may improve as a result of practice effects— better test- taking skills and increased familiarity with the test— not because of factors commonly associated with development. cohort effects: Longitudinal studies examine the development of cohorts— children developing in the same time period who are influenced by particular cultural and historical conditions. Results based on one cohort may not apply to children developing at other times. cross- sectional design: groups of people differing in age are studied at the same point in time. Advantages: The cross- sectional design is an efficient strategy for describing age- related trends. And because participants are measured only once, researchers need not be concerned about such difficulties as selective attrition, practice effects, or changes in the field that might make the findings obsolete by the time the study is complete. Weaknesses: Despite its convenience, cross-sectional research does not provide evidence about development at the level at which it actually occurs: the individual. It can also be threatened by cohort effects sequential designs: in which they conduct several similar cross- sectional or longitudinal studies ( called sequences) at varying times. The microgenetic design, an adaptation of the longitudinal approach, presents children with a novel task and follows their mastery over a series of closely spaced sessions. Within this “ microcosm” of development, researchers observe how change occurs Limitation: Requires intensive study of participants’ moment- by- moment behaviors; the time required for participants to change is difficult to anticipate; practice effects may distort developmental trends. By age 7 children must give their own consent as well as their parents when involved in an experiment Chapter 3: Biological Foundations and Prenatal development at birth These directly observable characteristics are called phenotypes. They depend in part on the individual’s genotype— the complex blend of genetic information that determines our species and influences all our unique characteristics. Genetic Foundations Within every cell is a control center, or nucleus, containing rodlike structures called chromosomes, which store and transmit genetic information. Chromosomes are made up of a chemical substance called deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA. Genes can be of different lengths— perhaps 100 to several thousand ladder rungs long. An estimated 20,000 to 25,000 genes lie along the human chromosomes A unique feature of DNA is that it can duplicate itself through a process called mitosis. This special ability permits a single cell, formed at conception, to develop into a complex human being composed of a great many cells. During mitosis, the chromosomes copy themselves. As a result, each new body cell contains the same number of chromosomes and the identical genetic information. Genes accomplish their task by sending instructions for making a rich assortment of proteins to the cytoplasm, the area surrounding the cell nucleus. Proteins, which trigger chemical reactions throughout the body, are the biological foundation on which our characteristics are built. New individuals are created when two special cells called gametes, or sex cells— the sperm and ovum— combine. Gametes are formed through a cell division process called meiosis, which halves the number of chromosomes normally present in body cells. When sperm and ovum unite at fertilization, the cell that results, called a zygote, will again have 46 chromosomes. Special event called crossing over occurs, in which chromosomes next to each other break at one or more points along their length and exchange segments, so that genes from one are replaced by genes from another. This shuffling of genes creates new hereditary combinations. The genetic variability produced by meiosis is important in an evolutionary sense: Because it generates offspring that vary in phenotype, it increases the chances that at least some members of a species will cope with ever- changing environments and will survive. twinning happens because of: temperature changes, variation in oxygen levels, and late fertilization of the ovum. In a minority of cases, the identical twinning runs in families, suggesting a genetic influence. Fraternal, or dizygotic, twins, the most common type of multiple birth, result from the release and fertilization of two ova. In many heterozygous pairings, dominant– recessive inheritance occurs: Only one allele affects the child’s characteristics. It is called dominant; the second allele, which has no effect, is called recessive. Hair color is an example. incomplete dominance: a pattern of inheritance in which both alleles are expressed in the phenotype, resulting in a combined trait, or one that is intermediate between the two. But when a harmful
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