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Research Methods

& the Study of Development

Chapter 2
Important Note:
 This is a highly selective review of Chapter 2.

 More so than for other chapters, I assume most of you


have a fairly solid background in this area and that
this is in large part a review.

 Therefore, to those who have not taken any statistical


or research methods courses, and/or whose
experience of psychology courses is very limited:
read this chapter particularly carefully, and know that
you may need to refer to it over the semester when
necessary. If needed, use the WebCT discussion
board and/or me & your TAs to check your
understanding of concepts when necessary.
Ensure You Understand
(i.e., even if not covered extensively in class):
I. Difference (& relationship) between a hypothesis and a
theory
• Hypothesis: prediction b/w behavior and 1+ variables
• Theory: set of propositions describing relationships b/w
behaviors and variables – organizes findings
II.Purpose of objectivity in psychological research and
important ways that psychologists attempt to achieve
it
• Replicable/verifiable by others: observable & quantifiable
III.Meaning of a positive or negative correlation; basic
ability to interpret/understand “r” statistic
• Strength & direction of relationship; -1 to +1; meaning of
0?

Ensure You Understand
(i.e., even if not covered extensively in class):
IV.What is an independent vs dependent variable, and
how to recognize each in experiments
• Variable – values can vary on some dimension
• Experimental research:
• Independent Variable(s) (IV) = manipulated
• Dependent Variable (DV)= measured outcome
V.Ways to recognize whether a study uses a correlational
vs an experimental methodology
• Is any variable being deliberately manipulated? Or are they
simply being measured as they exist, without interference.

VI.**How to describe/interpret research results using
appropriate terminology (esp. that of
correlation/causality)

Special Ethical Considerations for
Studying Children (SRCD)
 In addition to those regarding confidentiality; use of
deception; reporting/dissemination of results, etc:

 Particular attention to what constitutes harm to a baby


or child

 Informed consent
◦ Child
◦ Parent/guardian
◦ Other people or institutions involved
◦ ?Infants?

•Ethics vs Law
 Other guidelines in text •Subjectivity, evolution
of ethical principles
Types of Research
 You are interested in the development of
reading skills.

 You suspect that something about early
exposure to books and reading might relate
to enhanced reading skills.

 How might you decide to study this?
Types of Research
 You are interested in the development of
reading skills.

 You suspect that something about early
exposure to books and reading might relate
to enhanced reading skills.

 How might you decide to study this?
Longitudinal Design
 Repeated measurements of same people over time

 Can be correlational or experimental in nature


•  Assessing dis/continuity (big plus)


◦ Can assess stability/persistence of a trait or behavior
 Usefulness of testing same person over time
◦ Long-term effects of early experiences

• Can be expensive, time-consuming (if very long)


• Loss of participants (attrition) with time

• Repeated testing and cohort effects (something special

about generation followed) may confound results


Time Time Time
1 2 3

(Attrition)
Spelling Spelling Spelling
Age 4 Age 5 Age 6
(1950) (1951) (1952)
Cross-Sectional Design
 Groups of people at different ages tested at one time
◦ Age becomes an independent variable (IV)

• Can answer questions about developmental


differences, age-related trends
• Cannot answer questions about stability, or

• long-term effects of early experiences (WHY?)


• Quicker! (plus less expensive and no attrition)


• BUT: cohort effects (differences between ages due not

to development, but to generational diffs) may account


for findings
Cohort Cohort Cohort
1 2 3
Al
l
M
ea
su V
V
re S
S
d
at
Sa
m
e
Ti
m
e
Cohort 1 Cohort 2 Cohort 3
(age 4) (age 5) (age 6)
Al
l
M
ea
su V
V
re S
S
d
in
19
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Cross-Sequential Design
 Sequences
 Cross-sectional study and follow longitudinally
 Or: longitudinal study, and start cross-sectional
every few years

 Best of both worlds (but worst as well)


◦ Can check for cohort effects, testing effects
◦ Expensive, time-consuming
Cohort 1 Cohort 2 Cohort 3 Cohort 1 Cohort 3
Time 1 Time 1 Cohort 2
Time 1 Time 2 Time 2
Time 2

+T +T +T
http://www.webster.edu/~woolflm/designs.html
Microgenetic Method
 Adapts longitudinal approach:
◦ Repeated, intensive observation of a small number of
participants over brief period
 Used especially to study cognitive development

•  Detection of discontinuous developmental


processes

•  Expensive, time-consuming, *repeated testing*