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Research and Scientific Study

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Peter Baggetta

on 30 November 2015

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Transcript of Research and Scientific Study

Research and
Scientific Study

Outcome Goals:
1. Become aware of the different beliefs about knowledge and how they impact research approaches.

2. Understand the functions and elements of a good research study.

3. Understand what characterizes the scientific method and theories.

4. Understand the different research methods, designs and data collection commonly applied in developmental psychology.

5. Discuss the essential features of the experimental method for testing hypotheses.

6. Explain the important features of the correlational method of testing hypotheses.

7. Understand what special challenges developmental
scientists face in conducting research.
Scientific Method
Systematic scientific study
Based on evidence
Process of generating ideas and testing them by making observations
Asks testable research questions
Set of concepts to describe and explain assumptions about development and change
Foundation for developing testable research questions, hypothesis, and predictions
A good theory should be
Internally consistent
Supported by data
Key Research Development Issues
1. Method?

2. Design?

3. Data Collection and Sample?

4. Ethics?
Functions of Research
2. What is the relation between variables?
Associations, Relations, Predictions
1. Research Question?
2. Hypothesis?
3. Method?
4. Design?
5. Data Collection?
6. Ethics?
7. Justification for your decisions?
Testable Questions??
1. Do apes have self-concept?

2. Does memory decay with age?

3. Do infants dream?

4. Are some people born evil?

5. Do dreams demonstrate our unconscious desires?
Naturalistic Observation
Observing people in their natural surroundings and in everyday life
e.g. study children in a playground
Cannot be used for rare or infrequent behaviors
Difficult to determine cause and effect
Presence of observer can influence the behavior that is being observed
Case Study
In-depth examination of an individual or small number of individuals

Can provide rich information about complex or rare aspects of development
Can be a good source of hypotheses for future larger-scale studies

Conclusions cannot be generalized
Experimental Method
Can establish cause and effect
Manipulation of the IV causes a change in the DV
Findings of laboratory experiments don’t always hold true in the real world
Principles of ethics limit the use of experiments to study human development
Correlational Method
Determines if two or more variables are associated/ related

Relation not causation

Correlation coefficient = +1.0 to –1.0
Cannot establish a causal relationship between one variable and another
When it is unethical to manipulate people’s experiences in an experiment
Allows an examination of multiple factors that combine to influence development
Elements of a Good Research Study
Objective - unbiased/without researcher bias
Reliable - findings observed consistently/accepted by independent observers (peer-reviewed)
Valid - behaviors and findings are what researcher claims them to be
Replicable - other researchers can use same methods and report similar results
Three Critical Features:
Developmental Research Designs
How people change and remain the same as they age?
Cross-sectional designs
Longitudinal designs
Sequential designs
Cross-Sectional Design
Longitudinal Designs
Cross-Sequential Design
Compares differences/performances of different age groups or cohorts - age effects

Quick and easy to conduct
Can yield valid conclusions if cohorts studied have had similar experiences
Trace changes in individuals as they age
Costly and time-consuming
Measurement methods may become obsolete
Participants are lost
Effects of repeated testing
Combine the cross-sectional and the longitudinal approach and improve on both

Can reveal age effects
Can reveal cohort effects
Can reveal time of measurement effects
Data Collection
Sample Selection
Sample: the group of individuals studied from a population

Population: a well-defined specific group

Research studies generalize from sample to population to make conclusions regarding the population
Interviews, written questionnaires or surveys, etc.

Ask people about themselves
Cannot be used with infants, those who cannot read or understand speech, etc.
Results may reflect age differences in understanding
Responses may be socially desirable
Physiological Measurements
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) measures an increase in blood flow to an area of the brain that occurs when the area is active


Hard to fake
Useful in study of nonverbal infants

Not always clear what is being assessed
Challenges in Research
1. Conducting culturally sensitive research
2. Research biases
3. Protecting the rights of research
Research Ethics

Standards of conduct that protect research
participants from psychological or physical harm:
Informed consent
Protection from harm
One objective reality/truth
Objectivity important
Experimental/Correlational studies
Quantitative analysis
Multiple and/or socially constructed realities
Objectivity impossible
Case Study/Naturalistic/Systems studies
Qualitative analysis
1. What exists?
Identification and Description
3. What is the causal process?
Hypothesis Testing:
Effect of the treatment - independent variable (IV)
On the outcome variable - dependent variable (DV)
e.g. Ice cream on grades
1. Random assignment to treatment conditions
2. Manipulation of IV
3. Experimental control - other variables controlled/held constant
Cohort - group of individuals born at the same time
Does not reveal how people change with age
What are some possible variables of interest?

Operational definitions of variables?


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