Life-Span Developmental Psychology: Methodological Contributions

By Stanley H. Cohen; Hayne W. Reese | Go to book overview

In summary, the systematic and standardized methods developed by survey researchers to address stability and instability of behavior through cohort trend and panel longitudinal studies are of relevance and value to the investigation of human development and aging. They are consistent with and complementary to the framework developed by Campbell and his associates ( Cook & Campbell, 1979) to address threats to validity in true experimental and quasi-experimental designs identified in much of the methodological writing on human development research (e.g., Nesselroade & Baltes, 1979; Nesselroade & Labouvie, 1985; Schaie & Hertzog, 1982, 1985). Many of the suggestions in the present chapter for addressing sampling, questionnaire construction, research procedures, coding, and analysis issues, have their experimental analogues.

Much of the research conducted on change and stability in human behavior, however, is not amenable to the manipulations, and types of control conditions necessary to reduce threats in true experimental and quasi-experimental designs ( Baltes et al., 1979). At best, much of human development and aging research, whether descriptive or explanatory, is correlational. Survey researchers have a long history of addressing these types of issues ( Rossi et al., 1983; Schuman & Kalton, 1985; Tanur, 1984; Turner & Martin, 1984). Greater attention to the pitfalls and to recommended and tested ameliorative approaches identified in survey research methods, cannot help but improve the quality of human development and aging research.


ACKNOWLEDGMENT

This chapter was written while the first author held a National Research Council/ Ford Foundation Senior Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Groupe d'Etudes et de Recherches sur la Science, Ecole des HautesEtudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, and the second author a Research Career Development Award from the National Institute on Aging. An earlier version of this chapter was presented at the West Virginia Conference on Life-span Developmental Psychology, April, 1986.


REFERENCES

Adams J. ( 1978). "Sequential strategies and the separation of age, cohort, and time- of-measurement contributions to developmental data". Psychological Bulletin, 85, 1309- 1316.

Allison P. D. ( 1984). Event history analysis. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

Alwin D. F. ( 1977). "Making errors in surveys: An overview". In D. F. Alwin (Ed.), Survey design and analysis (pp. 131-280). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

Alwin D. F. ( 1988). Structural equation models in research on human development and aging.

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