Is Development Psychology Science?
Claudia P. Cisneros
Georgia Northwestern Technical College
PSYC 1101-Introduction to Psychology
Craig Harston, Ph.D., MBA
September 14, 2011
To answer the question is Developmental Psychology science? We will take in consideration some definitions about Development, development Psychology, how it is studied, and the research methods in which this discipline is based. All this information will help us understand, analyze, and make a conclusion about if Developmental Psychology is a science or not. First, let’s review what development is. Development describes the growth of humans through the lifespan, from conception to death. The scientific study of human development tries to understand and explain why people change throughout life. This includes all the aspects of human growth, including physical, emotional, intellectual, social, perceptual, and personality development. The scientific study of development is important not only to psychology, but also to sociology, education, and health care. Development does not just involve the biological and physical aspects of growth, but also the cognitive and social aspects associated with development throughout life. Here is where psychology interlace with development, let’s then review the definition of developmental psychology. Developmental psychology is the scientific study of age-related changes throughout the human life span. Mainly focusing on the development of the human mind trough the life span, developmental psychology seeks to understand how people come to perceive, understand, and act within the world and how these processes change as they age. The early focus of developmental psychology was on child development, or the maturation of children. Within in the last 25 years, developmentalists-researchers who studied human development expanded their focus to include the study of physical, motor, cognitive, intellectual, emotional, personality social and moral changes that occur throughout all stages of the life span. After defining what developmental psychology is, let’s explore how it is studied. The study of human development utilizes the scientific method to define problems, answer questions, and draw conclusions about developmental issues. The scientific method ―method of acquiring knowledge that involve observing a phenomenon, formulating hypothesis about it, making additional observations, refining and retesting hypotheses are used in developmental psychology.
The study of developmental psychology begins with a hypothesis. Hypothesis is a tentative explanation of a phenomenon that can be tested and either supported or rejected. The main goal of research is analyze the problem or area of interest, collect information and data about the issue, and draw conclusions based on the information obtained, and then add or expand upon previously existing theories of development. Human life-span developmental psychologists are interested with changes in the structure, though, feelings and behavior of human beings during the course of their lifetimes. Psychological research on development uses variety of different methods including, cross-sectional studies, longitudinal studies, experiments, correctional studies and case studies. The two major types of research are:
Cross-sectional Research involves studies in which groups of people of different ages are observed at one time in their lives. For example, a researcher might observe a group of young adults and compare this data with information gathered about a group of elderly participants. The benefit of this type of research is that it can be done relatively quickly; the research data is all gathered at the same point in time. However, because data is gathered from generations of people who share the same cultural experiences, these shared events may play a role in development. This makes it difficult to determine if something is caused by experience or the aging process....
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