This chapter will review what is known about the relation between living in conditions associated with poverty and the development of cardiac vagal tone in infants and young children. The effect of poverty-related stress during the prenatal period on vagal development in utero, in infancy, and young childhood will be discussed, with a specific focus on the effect of maternal psychological distress and substance use at this time. Additionally, this chapter will discuss how poverty-related stress may affect family functioning, due to such issues as maternal depression and marital conflict, leading to impaired parent-child interactions and subsequent deficits in vagal functioning in infants and children. Many unanswered questions about these associations remain, but initial findings provide compelling evidence that this physiological system may contribute to the long-term deleterious behavioral outcomes of children growing up in poverty.
Peter K. Smith
In this chapter I discuss the use of observational methods in the study of play, both in humans and non-human species. In the first part, I give a short history of observational methods, and then consider issues around types of observational methods, such as participant and non-participant observation, and (briefly) alternatives to observation (for human children: indirect methods based on verbal report, such as interviews and questionnaires). Intersecting with the use of observational measures is the context of observation, and in particular whether behavior is heavily constrained within the setting, and whether the environment can be considered ‘natural.’ The ‘discovery’ of rough-and-tumble play in human children provides an interesting case study of the importance of observational methods. In the second part, I consider some theoretical presuppositions regarding observational work, moving into the main technical issues: category schemes, recording techniques, measures, sampling, analysing, and reliability and validity; with some examples from studies of play.
Jae Hoon Lim
This chapter reviews four major qualitative research methods—case study, grounded theory, generic qualitative research, and auto/biography/narrative research—frequently utilized in research on adult development and learning and examines their underlying assumptions in relation to two contrasting theoretical frameworks: post-positivism/critical realism and interpretivism. The author explicates the distinctive features of each theoretical tradition and its ramifications in current methodological practices. The author acknowledges that the existence of multiple theoretical traditions, which are often incompatible with one another, would provide a dynamic context for enriched research endeavors and discussion in the emerging field of adult development and learning.
J. Steven Reznick
This chapter addresses problematic aspects of contemporary research in developmental psychology that impede progress toward the goal of establishing a cumulative developmental science. One key perspective is the importance of recognizing the need to balance the theoretical relevance of sense meaning with the objective measurement of reference meaning and to adopt optimal strategies for combining measurements reflecting multiple attempts, operations, and levels. It is also efficacious to use qualitative information from the context of discovery as a complement and guide to improve the efficacy of quantitative research in the context of justification. Various methodological issues are addressed, including sample selection, design, anchoring of findings, research on atypical participants and interventions, issues related to observing behavior, missing data, nonlinear effects, inferring causality, and assessing statistical significance. Long-term strategies for enhancing developmental research include better analytic techniques and data warehousing and explicit efforts to improve research methodology.