Developmental Psychologly Studies

We all change constantly throughout our lives. We develop biologically, we learn new things and have new experiences, we are given different responsibilities and challenges. All these things are continuously shaping the people that we are. Developmental psychology is the study of these changes over time. It often looks at children (where the development is fastest), but not always! We can study the development of people's behavior at any stage of their lives.

Strengths of the developmental approach


Very useful applications to real life. For example, developmental psychology has led to huge changes in education systems in the last 50 years. Childcare is another area that has been very influenced by the findings of developmental psychology research.

Children require simple experiments with standardised procedures if they are to understand what they are doing. This is a big advantage, as it means that the findings from the experiments are likely to be more reliable.

Weaknesses of the developmental approach


Children are very easily influenced by other people. Demand characteristics can therefore occur very easily.

Younger children are not able to communicate with researchers, or to understand difficult experimental tasks. This means that researchers often have to find ingenious ways of reading infants' responses. These indirect measures of the dependent variable (such as looking time in the Langlois study) are based on assumptions and may not be valid.

There are ethical issues with the use of children. Children under 16 require parental consent to participate in experiments, but as they cannot give consent themselves, they may not want to participate. Younger children are also very unlikely to understand that they have a right to withdraw.

Analysis of a phobia of a five-year old boy - Freud, S. (1909)


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Facial Diversity and Infant Preferences for Attractive Faces - Langlois, J.H., Ritter, J.M., Roggman, L.A. and Vaughn, L.S. (1991)


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Transmission of aggression through imitation of aggressive models - Bandura, A., Ross, D. and Ross, S.A. (1961)


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Factors Influencing Young Children's Use of Motives and Outcomes as Moral Criteria - Nelson, S.A. (1980)


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