What about research and methodology?
Psychology is a social science discipline that relies on scientific inquiry of human behavior. It utilizes scientific strategies – asks questions, formulates research questions or hypothesis from theory, gathers data through experiments or fieldworks, and analyze the data to test the hypothesis or generate answers to their research questions. It is based on empirical research which is supported by the data or evidence. As a branch of psychology, developmental psychology also relies on using scientific research strategies for understanding human lives, behaviors, actions, problems and solutions to those problems. Professionals in this field use their understanding of human development and growth and any associated challenges to generate empirical or evidence-based techniques and strategies to promote development, solve problems and advance human lives.
Developmental psychology professionals employ three major methodologies for conducting scientific inquiries:
- Quantitative research methodology uses objective measurement and statistical or numerical analysis of the data that are collected through standardized questionnaires, surveys, instruments. They focus on collecting data from a large number of target populations and the findings are generalizable to a large population.
- Qualitative methodology uses observations primarily for collecting data on a smaller target population. The researchers collect data through focus groups and individual interviews, and observations in natural settings on their subjects’ behaviors, perceptions or feelings and the findings are generalizable to the same population in the same settings. This technique is particularly useful when there is a dearth of research in that area, and qualitative method can be used an exploratory study for understanding the behavior(s) from the subjects’ perspectives in a given setting, and it becomes helpful for generating constructs or variables for further study.
- Mixed-method research methodology uses a combination of qualitative and quantitative methodology for data collection and analysis. It uses both quantitative data collection (questionnaire, surveys, and standardized instruments) and qualitative data collection (focus group, individual interviews, artifacts) techniques, and quantitative analysis (statistical analysis) and qualitative analysis (coding, textual data analysis) for generating the results.
Research is critical for advancement of any disciplines including Developmental Psychology. Therefore, understanding research methodology is very important for conducting empirical research that contributes to our knowledge and promotes human development in general.