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Why does methodology play a critical role in developmental research

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Introduction

Why does methodology play a critical role in developmental research? Developmental psychology may be defined as a branch psychology devoted to understanding all changes that human beings, experience throughout the lifespan (Berk. E. L 2003). Developmental psychology focuses hugely on development in childhood, as major changes occur in childhood, it is the scientific study of 'how we grow and develop', (Davenport 1994). Developmental psychology aims to understand the important aspects of cognition, socialisation, emotional development, and personality development through childhood to adulthood. 'Researchers are captivated by and want to understand the fascinating, complex, and often surprising arrays of behaviours children display.' (Bukatko and Daehler 2004). It can be argued that methodology plays a significant role in developmental psychology. Psychologists argue the importance of methodology in developmental psychology; Bukatko and Daehler (2004), claim that 'collecting data about children is essential, and a rewarding aspect of scientific developmental psychology, and being well grounded in research technique is important'. Thompson, (1996, p. 69) quotes; 'To me research is discovery: an odyssey of surprises, confirmations, and unexpected twists and turns that contribute to the excitement of research career...The excitement of a research career is that the story told by the data is always more interesting and provocative than even the most thoughtful theories allow, and this ...read more.

Middle

explored the sources of social support for seven, ten, and fourteen year-old children from different ethnic backgrounds. Children were interviewed individually about the people most important in their lives. The results showed that regardless of ethnic background, family was an important source of social support. Researchers who use interviews and questionnaires to collect data from children must be aware that sometimes young respondents may try to represent themselves in the most perceivable favourable form, or answer questions according to they perceptions of the researchers expectations. However, these methods are a quick way to assess children's knowledge or reports of their behaviour, although children may not always respond truthfully, honesty must be emphasised. Additionally theoretical orientation may bias questions and interpretation of answers. Case studies and single case studies have made notable contributions to the developmental process, based on an in depth examination of a single child or a few children. It informs an in-depth description of psychological characteristics and behaviours of an individual, often in form of a narrative. Freud and Piaget relied heavily on such case studies of individuals to formulate their broad theories of personality and cognitive development. The details of a child's background, cognitive skills, or behaviours can provide important insights about the process of development or even a critical analysis of theory. ...read more.

Conclusion

Research into human behaviour creates ethical issues. When children take part in research, the ethical concerns are increasingly complex. Children are more vulnerable to physical and psychological harm, additionally childhood innocence and immaturity, make it difficult for children to evaluate the purpose, and meaning of their participation in research. Thus, the American Psychological Association has developed special ethical guidelines on research on children. Children have the right to be protected from physical and psychological harm. Consent of parents on the behalf of the child should be obtained. Children have the right to concealment of their identity on all information collected in the course of research. Children have the right to be informed of the results of research in language that is appropriate to their level of understand. The BPS guidelines, which all researchers must be familiar with, apply to all adults in participation of research. Critical analysis of the common methodology widely used within developmental research, provides profound findings in developmental psychology. The wide scope of interest in human behaviour and patterns of change requires the necessity of research through such methodological techniques. Every method focuses on a particular aspect of developmental psychology, and is selected accordingly by researchers. Much emphasise is placed on the use of methodology in developmental psychology, and its critical essentiality. ...read more.

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