Research and design methodology




Research and design methodology

Developmental psychologists have devised methods to collect data to use in the study of individuals’ changes in time. The common methods employed include natural observation, self-reports, case studies and participant observation or ethnography. There are various designs that are put to use such as longitudinal, sequential and cross-sectional designs (Berk, 2010). The methods and designs have strengths, weaknesses, advantages and disadvantages that make their efficiencies vary thus, being employed in different ranges and instances to maximize on the outcome.

A longitudinal study is an associational design of research that involves the recurrence of observations of the same variables over a period that could stretch out for decades. It is an observational study that is used in psychology to study trends in development across a life span. This study tracks the same people over time to detect the changes and development that this group undergoes. One of the reasons that make this study favorable is the observational aspect without manipulation of the states of the group in the study. It is however, inconvenient due to the high expense involved and the large amount of time required having this study.

A cross-sectional study involves the observation of a population or a section of it that constitutes a fair representation. The aim of this study is to provide a specific set of data on the population under study hence; it is a descriptive study. The researcher using this study observes differences in behavior between individuals of a cross-sectional age difference. The greatest supporting factor of this study is its low cost. On the other hand, its effectiveness comes into question because the differences observed in the study may be due to a multitude of other factors not taken into consideration.

The third, the sequential design, is a combination of both the longitudinal and cross-sectional study designs. This method involves the use of a cohort for example; birth of different ages and charts their development over time. The strength of this method is that the researcher obtains a clearer distinction of the changes that occur thus, attributing them to individual or environmental. Its limitation is the amount of resources that it requires to complete such a study.

There are scopes of research methods used in data collection, in psychology: self-reporting, clinical method, systematic observation, and ethnography. Self-reporting involves collecting data using questionnaires and interviews. Systematic observation is done in the natural environment without disturbance to ensure authenticity. Clinical observations are conducted by trained professionals with ethnography explores the role different cultural settings have on the development of an individual. They all involve the collection of data to design developmental psychology. These methods are all similar, in that, the data collected is obtained directly from the source. The advantage of first hand information is obvious as the credibility of the data collected is assured.

Differences among these methods are based on the conduction of the methods to collect data. Ethnography differs from the other modes due to the possibility of bias that the researcher may have. Participation is key rather than mere observation. Conversely, observation is the only requirement of an observational research method. Self-reporting and clinical methods differ in that the former is subjective, and the latter tends to be more objective. Self-reporting is dependent on the respondent whose mood and biased attitudes may interfere with the validity of the information offered. Clinical collection of data is more reliable because the researcher collecting the information is a professional and is aware of what he or she requires from the interview.


Berk, L. E. (2010). Development through the lifespan. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.


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