Scientific Method and Human Development

Topics: Scientific method, Developmental psychology, Research Pages: 7 (1919 words) Published: January 31, 2013
Psych 09-2
Psychology of Human Development
SY 2011 – 2012 Second Semester

Week No. 1 of 17 (Nov. 17-21)

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Berger, KS (2008) The Developing Person Through the Life Span, Seventh Edition Worth Publishers

Nature and Characteristics of Human Development


At the end of the session, the student is expected to:
1. Define development, focusing on three elements of its scientific study and noting how dynamic-systems theory highlights the interactive nature of development. 2. Describe the ecological-systems approach to the study of human development, and explain how this approach leads to an understanding of the overlapping contexts in which people develop. 3. Identify five characteristics of development.

4. List and describe the basic steps of the scientific method. 5. Describe three basic research designs used by developmental psychologists.

Study Guide

The science of human development seeks to understand how and why people—all people, everywhere—change with increasing age, and how and why they remain the same. The science of human development is empirical, meaning that it focuses on data, facts, observation, and experimentation.

The emphasis on the interaction between people and within each person is highlighted by dynamic-systems theory, which stresses fluctuations and transitions. The approach that emphasizes the influence of the systems, or contexts, that support the developing person is Urie Bronfenbrenner’s ecological-systems approach. According to this model, human development is supported by systems at four nested levels: the microsystem (immediate social setting), the exosystem (the local institutions such as school and church), the macrosystem (cultural values, political processes, economic policies, and social conditions), and the chronosystem, which emphasizes the importance of historical time on development. A fifth system, the mesosystem, involves systems, or parts of a single system.

Development is multidirectional, multicontextual, multicultural, multidisciplinary, and plastic.

Two important insights of the multidirectional aspect of this perspective are the concepts of dynamic change, which refers to the continual change that occurs within each person and each social group, and the butterfly effect, in which even a tiny change in one system can have a profound effect on the other systems of development.

Researchers take a broader view of development, recognizing the influence on development of external forces, that is, the context of development. This larger perspective makes it imperative that development be understood in its social context, including its historical and socioeconomic contexts. A cohort is a group of people born within a few years of each other who tend to share certain historical and social influences and perspectives.

Socioeconomic status (SES) is determined by several overlapping variables, including income, education, place of residence, and occupation. Although low income obviously limits a person, other factors (such as education) can make poverty better or worse.

Culture affects development in a multitude of interrelated ways, from whether to cover your mouth when laughing to what to eat for breakfast. Cultures are dynamic, always changing, as people change and grow older. People can belong to more than one culture, with their choice dependent on their immediate context.

An ethnic group is a collection of people who share certain attributes, such as ancestry, national origin, religion, and/or language. Although race was once defined as a biological category, it is actually a social construction.

The three domains...
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