What do infants know about the world in which they live—and how do they grow and change with age? These are the kinds of questions answered by developmental scientists. This module describes different research techniques that are used to study psychological phenomena in infants and children, research designs that are used to examine age-related changes in development, and unique challenges and special issues associated with conducting research with infants and children. Child development is a fascinating field of study, and many interesting questions remain to be examined by future generations of developmental scientists— maybe you will be among them!
A group of children were playing hide-and-seek in the yard. Pilar raced to her hiding spot as her 6-year-old cousin, Lucas, loudly counted, “. . . six, seven, eight, nine, ten! Ready or not, here I come!” Pilar let out a small giggle as Lucas ran over to find her—in the exact location where he had found his sister a short time before. At first glance, this behavior is puzzling: why would Pilar hide in exactly the same location where someone else was just found? Whereas older children and adults realize that it is likely best to hide in locations that have not been searched previously, young children do not have the same cognitive sophistication. But why not . . . and when do these abilities first develop?
Developmental psychologists investigate questions like these using research methods that are tailored to the particular capabilities of the infants and children being studied. Importantly, research in developmental psychology is more than simply examining how children behave during games of hide-and-seek—the results obtained from developmental research have been used to inform best practices in parenting, education, and policy.
This module describes different research techniques that are used to study psychological phenomena in infants and children, research designs that are used to examine age-related changes in developmental processes and changes over time, and unique challenges and special issues associated with con- ducting research with infants and children.