Methods in Adult aging - in depth summary of concepts
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Looking at the designs of experiments:
Metatheories= “beyond” – many individual theories are joined together to make up a set of
interconnected statements. It is an insight into a broad area, and drives theory
developments. They will influence many disciplines.
Mechanistic: existed in the first half of the 20th century, believed that the human is passive
when it encounters environmental influences. Some theorists in this domain include
Watson= believed that you can make an individual do anything as long as the environment
A more recent mechanistic theorist is BANDURA: moved away from this view, and said that
inner and outer influences exist and they affect individuals.
Organismic: believes that development is a pre-determined plan. If the environment
provides necessities that an individual needs, then development can unfold in a healthy
ex.. Of a theoriest is Hall, more recent theorists: Gisell, Piaget, Erikson
Contextual: is a dialectic theory- believes that there is an interaction between psychological
makeup and the environment. In other words, there are internal and external determinants
Ex of theoriests: Broufer and Brevaer, more recent: Riesel
Metaphor similar to analogy – think of something in terms of something else.
Mechanism - understand whole in terms of its parts
Organismic – like embryos they are growing maturing beings with internally generated
patterns of development. they initiate events. People do different thingsd at different stages
Qualitative change: abrupt.
Contextual – an act is never isolated. Great emphasis on interaction with the environment.
The acTor changes the environment that changes the actor
The lifespan perspective though includes elements of all is largely rooted in the contextual
All of these disciplines focus on different things:
Research focuses on empirical research in life and social sciences.
Reliability: stablity and consistency of findings- we trust these findings to give us the same
results when we repeat the experiment. If we get different results when we repeat the
experiment, then the findings are not reliable.
-inter-observer: when someone is observing something, the results can lead to
different diagnoses. Ex. Two observers are investigating the level of anxiety
judgement, both may get different results.
-test retest: doing an expeirment again to see if you get the same results.
Validity: looks at whether research properly addresses what the research says to investigate
-construct: is there a fit/match between the research instruments used and its ability to
measure what is supposed to be measured? Ex. Intelligence tests measure more than one
intellectual ability, they measure the socioeconomic status- one can not say that an
intelligence test measures only intellectual abilities
-predictive: how well the performance on a test can predict one’s performance in real
life. Ex. Test one’s capability to predict chances of success.
-Internal: an issue that can arise. Ex. If an investigator designs an experiment and
extraneous variables are controlled, then if a change occurs, it is most likely to be
due to the variable that is under investigation.
Ex. Testing if colour has an effect on mental ability- if the subject is placed in a green room
and performs lower on a test, one cannot assume that this is due to the colour. The effects
may have occurred due to an uncontrolled variable which therefore has threatened the
internal validity of an experiment.
-External: is it possible to generalize these findings to other people? If yes, then it has good
How can a high level of external validity be achieved? It can be achieved through
Sampling: picking out a smaller group of people that is representative of the people from a
larger population that is too large to study, in order to be able to generalize the findings.
How can it be achieved?
-Random: each member has an equal chance of being selected. Statistical techniques are
used to identify what the size of the population needs to be.
-random stratified: this method is used to ensure that the same represents the population
(looks at the sample:population ratio)- get subjects from EACH SUBGROUP that exists in
the population, in correct percentages
Ex. If 1 in 3 people in a population is a babyboomer, then in a study involving 3000 people,
the same put pick out a random set of 1000 babyboomers.
Self report methods: rely on the subjects response to a set of questions to investigate the
-Alot of information can be collected easily, cost efficient manner
-Quality of the data depends on how truthful the subject was when giving the
responses (for instance person may not intentionally lie, but may give false
statements due to a faulty memory, or may be unable to be truthful because of
psychological restrictions, such as unconscious motivations)- therefore the accuracy
of the data can be a problem.
-Social desirability bias: people want to be viewed in a certain way ex. Being socially
accepted, therefore may change their answers. This affects the validity.
-Subjects may try to interpret data while being asked the questions, therefore they
will try to figure out the rationale of the study and try to respond accordingly.
Behavioural methods: measure one’s perfomance on a task (measure physiological or
psychometric response-IQ) – measuring a disability in order to assess it.
ex. Measure reading ability: ask people to rate themselves on a scale of 1-10 regading how
their reading ability is- this rely’s upon the person’s self knowledge- may be biased and not
true. However a behavioural method wouldn’t rely on asking the person, but rather gives a
test which will quantifiably measure this ability.
-allows quantitative analysis.
-If efficient measures are used, in other words if there is high validity and reliability, then
one can learn alot about a person in a short period of time (ex. 1 hour)
Metatheories= beyond many individual theories are joined together to make up a set of interconnected statements. I t is an insight into a broad area, and drives theory developments. Mechanistic: existed in the first half of the 20th century, believed that the human is passive when it encounters environmental influences. Some theorists in this domain include skinner, watson. Watson= believed that you can make an individual do anything as long as the environment is controlled. A more recent mechanistic theorist is bandura: moved away from this view, and said that inner and outer influences exist and they affect individuals. Organismic: believes that development is a pre-determined plan. If the environment provides necessities that an individual needs, then development can unfold in a healthy way. ex of a theoriest is hall, more recent theorists: gisell, piaget, erikson. Contextual: is a dialectic theory- believes that there is an interaction between psychological makeup and the environment.