The current emphasis on contextualism is salutary because it acknowledges that the phenomena with which we are most concerned are multiply determined. Often, relevant investigations must be multidisciplinary, with inputs ftom specialists in health, anthropology, economics, sociology, and other disciplines. Statistical techniques such as multiple and partial correlations, as well as path analysis, are available to assess the relative contribution of each antecedent, and undoubtedly even more efficient statistical techniques will be available in the future. Enlarging our armamentarium of research methods to incorporate hermeneutic and narrative techniques, family history, psychobiography, and other creative approaches may also yield important information and ideas.
Contextualism also calls attention to the limitations of generalization from empirical findings, acknowledging that our findings may hold at a particular time or place but not have universal applicability. Contemporary research will not discover universal principles but may suggest better questions for future study.
Developmental psychology is an exciting, expanding field that holds great promise of achieving the objective to which it is dedicated, "the promotion of human welfare throughout the life cycle," by systematic investigation of significant issues. By focusing our efforts and expertise on the task, we can deliver what is promised: solid knowledge that can be applied by enlightened policymakers and authorities in ways that will greatly benefit individuals and society.
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