Research Methods in Developmental and Clinical Child Psychology: Methodological Issues of Developmental Research



Type of instruction




Part of degree program


Recommended in

Semester 1-4

Typically offered in

Autumn/Spring semester

Course description

Specific methodological problems of developmental research. Typical mistakes in the attempts to reveal the causes of development. Age as a variable; the change of the meaning of time units with age. Age matching. The cohort-effect. Research designs to study development: crosssectional comparison, longitudinal strategy, time-lagged design – strengths and weaknesses, sources of errors. Complex (sequential) designs. Methodological implications of the systemmodels of development: longitudinal follow-up, tackling moderation and mediation using multivariate analyses. Modelling the risk and protective mechanisms. The problem of age in developmental psychopathology: the need for a developmental epidemiology. Cross-cultural studies. Studying the effects of education and teaching. The major sources of data in developmental research: observation, experiment, and quasi-experiment. The prominent role of observation in developmental psychology – requirements of observation as a scientific technique. Global and microanalytic coding of behaviour. Observation of interactions. Experiments with infants and young children. Validity and reliability issues typical of developmental research – ecological validity, predictive validity, temporal stability. Difference /growth scores to represent changes; age-equivalent and age-matched scores.

  • Teti, D.M. (ed.): Handbook of Research Methods in Developmental Science. Oxford, Blackwell’s, 2005.
  • Aylward, G.P. (2002); Methodological issues in outcome studies of at-risk infants. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 27, 37-45.
  • Bakeman, R.: Reflections on measuring behavior: Time and the grid. In G. Walford, E. Tucker, M. Viswanathan (eds): The Sage Handbook of Measurement, Newbury Park: Sage Publ., 2010.
  • Holmbeck, G.N. (1997): Toward terminological, conceptual, and statistical clarity in the study of mediators and moderators: Examples from the child-clinical and pediatric psychology literatures. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 65, 599-610.
  • Martin, P. & Bateson, P. (2007): Measuring behaviour - An introductory guide. Cambridge University Press.