Research Design for Developmental Psychology

Like any other field of psychology, Developmental psychology use the same research methodology which can be studied in following parts-


Methods for Collecting Data in Life Span Development

  1. Naturalistic Observation
  2. Structured Observation
  3. Clinical Interview
  4.  Self Report- Psychological tests
  5. Case Study
  6. Ethnography
  7. Experiments or Laboratory Experiments/
  8. Quasi-Experiments
  9. Neuropsychological methods

Common Research Designs in Life Span Development

  1. Correlational Design
  2. Experimental Design
  3. Quasi-Experimental Design or Modified Experimental Design

Time Span of Research in Life span Development

1. Longitudinal Design

The Researcher studies the same group of participants repeatedly at different ages. The time span may be relatively short (a few months to several years) or very long (a decade or even a lifetime). For example changes in personality.

Positives– Permits study of common patterns and individual differences in development and relationships between early and later events
and behaviors.

Limitations– Age-related changes may be distorted because of participant dropout, practice effects, and cohort effects.

What is Cohort Effects?

Individuals born in the same time period are influenced by a particular set of historical and cultural conditions. Thus results based on one cohort may not apply to people developing at other times.

2. Cross-sectional Design

The investigator studies groups of participants differing in age at the same point in time. For example studying 8th, 9th grade/ standard students about relationship with their siblings

Positives- More efficient than the longitudinal design. Not plagued by such problems as participant dropout and practice effects.

Limitations– Does not permit study of individual developmental trends. It does not provide evidence about development at the level at which it actually occurs: the individual. Age differences may be distorted because of cohort effects.

3. Sequential Design

The investigator conducts several similar cross-sectional or longitudinal studies (called sequences). These might study participants over the same ages but in different years, or they might study participants over different ages but during the same years.

Positives- When the design includes longitudinal sequences, permits both longitudinal & cross-sectional comparisons. Also reveals
cohort effects. Permits tracking of agerelated changes more efficiently than the longitudinal design.

Limitations– May have the same problems as longitudinal and cross-sectional strategies, but the design itself helps identify difficulties.

Rights of Research Participants

  • Protection from harm- Physiological or psychological
  • Informed consent
  • Privacy
  • Knowledge of results
  • Beneficial treatments



  • Berk, L. E. (2004). Development through the lifespan. (3rd Ed). New Delhi: Pearson Education Dorling Kindersley India
  • Feldman, R. S., & Babu, N. (2011). Discovering the Life Span. Indian subcontinent adaptation, New Delhi: Dorling Kindersley India

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