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Longitudinal and Cross-Sectional Research Methods

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This essay will compare and contrast the Longitudinal and Cross-sectional methods of research, by firstly describing each method and listing the main types. It will also give examples of research which have used these methods in order to gather data. Then through discussing the advantages and disadvantages for using each method a conclusion will be formed. Conducting research is important in psychology as it gives the evidence needed to support theories and hypothesis. Developmental research methods aim to examine changes or differences in behaviour by looking at different ages or stages across a lifetime. This is usually carried out using two basic methods, the longitudinal and cross-sectional. Cross-sectional research is where individuals of different ages are studied at the same time; this is in contrast with longitudinal studies which involves testing one age group repeatedly over many years. A cohort study is a form of longitudinal study as well as a panel and retrospective study, a cohort is a group of people who share a common characteristic or experience within a specific period, such as birth or geographical location. ...read more.


But this study also has its disadvantages, due to its amount of necessary resources and time consuming factors it is a very expensive method of research. What also happens in these and the cross-sectional studies is attrition, which is when a participant drops out of the study, either dying or refusing to participate, this is what happened in the Seven Up documentary. The researcher also has to wait a long period to get results and a great number of things may have influenced each participant's development which may not be included in the study. The participants may also suffer from 'practice effect' which is when they begin to behave in a way they feel the researcher want them to, but many of these disadvantages may also occur in the cross-sectional methods. In a cross-sectional study a researcher observes the differences between individuals of different ages at the same time. This generally requires fewer resources than a longitudinal method, and because the individuals come from different cohorts, the shared historical events are not so much of a confounding factor. ...read more.


This type of study would be even more resource consuming and expensive than the longitudinal study, but would give more accurate results. The primary difference between cross-sectional and longitudinal studies is that cross-sectional studies take place at a single point in time and that a longitudinal study involves a number of measurements taken over a period of time. The cross-sectional research takes a sample of its target group and bases its overall finding on the views or behaviors of those targeted assuming it is typical of the whole group, as in the above example where the results can be generalized. Both of these methods are useful in carrying out developmental research but are somewhat opposites in terms of the costs, period of time, resources needed and the types of results they give. Therefore whichever of the two methods are chosen to conduct research would depend upon these and most importantly what exactly the researcher would like to find out. 1009 words Gemma Barnes 08039678 1 ...read more.

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