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Guide to Child Development Psychology

Developmental psychology is simply defined as the study of the psychological, emotional and perception changes that a person experiences throughout their lifespan. Commonly referred to as human development, this type of psychology was first thought of as the study of infants and children, but now spans to the developmental stages throughout adolescence and adulthood. The study of developmental psychology is necessary in order for society to become aware of how to deal with certain issues and to interpret what is considered normal.

Cognitive Development

Cognitive development refers to the way infants and children solve problems and use memory and language skills. These internal mental capabilities are studied so that researchers are aware of the way these skills are acquired, developed and used. One of the earlier theorists who studied cognitive development was Piaget; his theory suggests that there is an ending point for each stage of development that a human experiences. Vygotsky is another theorist who studied cognitive development. His theory, on the other hand, suggested that the development went from birth to death and that there were no definitive stages.

Social and Emotional Development

When psychologists and researchers study the way a person develops certain competencies that deal with emotions and sociability, this is referred to social and emotional development. Professionals study the way a child forms friendships and how their identity develops. Furthermore, they also study how children become to understand their emotions and how they go about dealing with their emotions. When psychologists research this area of developmental psychology, they use a combination of cognitive development theories and social behavior.

Various Forms of Research

A variety of research methods are used for developmental psychology. Although there are many to choose from that are used, some of the same methods cannot be used on children that are used on adults. When speaking in terms of modern cognitive development, there are certain considerations of cognitive psychology that are integrated with individual differences so that development can be interpreted and modeled. The three main methods of research are longitudinal, cohort and cross-sectional.

Longitudinal Study

With longitudinal studies, a researcher takes a large number of people who were born around the same time and observes their behaviors. This type of method is ideal for determining what is considered normal for a specific age group. These types of studies can take a long amount of time to complete and require a large amount of funding; because of this, these types of studies are often not preferred over more convenient methods. Another fact about this method is that results are imperative to the particular age group that is in question, so any other research would need to be repeated on a variety of groups.

Cohort Study

Cohort studies take the principles of a longitudinal study and a cross-sectional study and combine them. With this type of research method, the researcher observes the difference of people across different age groups at the exact same time. Additionally, these individuals are tracked over a certain period of time, which can make this method extremely research-intensive. Although this method also requires a great deal of resources, the results are clearer and more distinct.

Cross-Sectional Study

The cross-sectional method of studying developmental psychology takes members of different age groups and studies them at the same time. This requires fewer resources since there are a variety of test subjects. On the other hand, this method is not the most effective since each member cannot be completely representative of others in their age group. Since this method requires a smaller amount of resources in comparison to the longitudinal method, it is often preferred.

Why Is It Important to Study Child Development?

The study of child development is necessary due to the fact that it molds the way future children are raised. It has an effect in the quality of education, social development and other types of activities that help mold a person for a more positive developmental stage from infancy through adulthood. Understanding the educational, emotional, cognitive and social development of children helps to ensure optimal development for children.