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Research Methods How adolescent development and behavior is studied.

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Presentation on theme: "Research Methods How adolescent development and behavior is studied."— Presentation transcript:

1 Research Methods How adolescent development and behavior is studied

2 Descriptive research Surveys (cross-sectional and longitudinal) Interviews Behavior observation Strengths: simple; can collect a lot of data on large samples. Weaknesses: cannot determine causal relationships among variables.

3 Cross-sectional design Compare different age groups Collect data at single time Strengths: quick, easy; simple age comparisons. Weaknesses: masks individual differences. AGE CHANGES CONFOUNDED WITH AGE DIFFERENCES

4 Longitudinal design Follow one group of a given age over a long period of time, collect data at regular time intervals (e.g., every 2 years). Strengths: observe individual changes over time. Weaknesses: expensive, impractical; lose participants over time; time of measurement effects


6 Correlation research Strengths: simple method allows researchers to determine if two are more variables are related; can make predictions about behaviors. Weaknesses: cannot infer causal relationships with correlation data.

7 Two basic forms of correlation research RELATIONSHIP –is parenting style related to adolescents’ academic achievement? –Is pubertal timing related to social adjustment for adolescent females? PREDICTION –does “adjustment to puberty” predict emotional health among 14 year olds? –Does personality type predict adolescent risk- taking behavior? –Do SAT scores predict college GPA?

8 Remember: Correlation does not imply causation!

9 Group comparison Experiments (random selection) Quasi-experiments (random assignment) Causal comparative (ex post facto) Strengths: can determine causal relationships. Weaknesses: expensive; impractical.

10 Experiment Random selection of participants from a population of interest Random assignment of participants to different groups (e.g., treatment and control) Independent variables: manipulated Dependent variables: measured outcomes

11 Quasi-Experiment Random selection from population is not possible or practical. Random assignment of volunteer participants to treatment or control.

12 Ex post facto Examines effect(s) of independent variable after it has already naturally occurred –(e.g., is parenting style related to adolescents’ academic achievement?) –Compare students from 3 types of parents: authoritative authoritarian permissive

13 Protecting adolescents from harm: Findings from the NLSAH Resnick, Bearman, Blum et al. (1997)

14 What social contexts influence adolescents’ risk behaviors? What are some protective factors in adolescents’ lives? METHOD: cross-sectional analysis (grades 7-12) of longitudinal data N = 12,118 students

15 Variables INDEPENDENT –family –school –individual characteristics DEPENDENT –emotional distress –violence –uses of cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana –age of sexual debut –suicidal thoughts –pregnancy history


17 Results Risk factors: access to guns; violence; access to substances; working >20 hrs. wk.; “older” than peers; repeating grade High parental expectations re: achievement associated with lower risk Parent disapproval of sex associated with lower age of onset of intercourse

18 Parent-family and school connectness is protective against every health risk behavior measure (except pregnancy history)

19 Conclusions Caring, connectedness to others is important to adolescent health Parent connectedness more important than physical presence in home Adolescents who feel connected are much less “at-risk” Several characteristics associated with “at- risk” status

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