Life-span development chap. 2 notes

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Theory and the Scientific Method

A. Theory - organized system of principles & ideas that help explain phenomenon & make predictions

B. Hypothesis - a statement that makes a prediction between 2 or more variables (educated guess)

C. Scientific Method - Approach used to discover accurate information about behavior and development

1. Identify and analyze the problem

2. Collect data

3. Draw conclusions

4. Revise theories


Descriptive Measures

1. Observation

*naturalistic - real world settings/natural environment

*laboratory - controlled setting

2. Interviews and Questionnaires - assess perceptions and attitudes

3. Case studies - in-depth analysis of an individual

Family history Academic achievement Personal life experiences

Work history Drug & alcohol history Motives, desires, dreams

Aspirations Significant relationships Mental health history

4. Standardized Tests - assess characteristics relative to large group of similar individuals

* norms

* standards

* validity

* reliability

* Examples (MMPI-2, SAT, WISC-R, WAIS-R)



1. Correlational - association or relationship between 2 variables

2. Experimental - cause and effect

* independent variable - manipulated or changed by experimenter

* dependent variable - subject's reaction/response to the change (IV)

* random assignment


Time Span Research

1. Cross Sectional Approach - individuals of different ages are compared at one time

2. Longitudinal Approach - same individuals studied over a period of time

3. Sequential Approach - combination of both strategies

4. Cohort Effects - due to time of birth or generation, not actual age


Research Challenges


Ethics - assure the well-being

* protect from physical or emotional harm

* informed consent for all subjects

* parental consent for children


Sexism - research has traditionally been male oriented and male dominated:

* both sexes should be studied before drawing conclusions

* gender differences should not be over-exaggerated

* use precise titles and...