The Pros and Cons of Cross-sectional Approaches Essay

The survey of development is that of alterations in physical. cognitive. societal and emotional capablenesss over clip. The survey is normally carried out on babies and kids as their alterations are faster and more dramatic than grownups. These clip based surveies reveal that the information collected shows the abilities of topics and the ages they appear. The information is collected through interviews. observations. trials and desk research of older surveies. These interviews. observations and trials are normally carried out one of two ways.

The cross-sectional attack to research entails the survey of two or more groups of similar ages. The groups are tested and their capablenesss compared to measure development ( the difference of accomplishments ) . In the longitudinal attack there is one survey group. or one chief age group which is studied for a certain sum of clip or until they develop suitably. and their advancement is so interpreted and noted.

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Cross-sectional surveies are preferred for short term surveies that may hold immediate societal effects and necessitate to be proven every bit shortly as possible. For illustration the consequence of twenty-four hours attentions as opposed to rear supervising of the kid. The short term nature of the survey is because the information can be taken from several survey groups at one time and there is no demand to wait for the members of any group to make the tried age. Information collected in one session could take old ages to roll up in a longitudinal survey.

This brevity besides means the surveies are comparatively inexpensive to transport out. therefore people will more likely fund cheaper surveies and so theoreticians will be more able to prove their hypothesises. that is. easier support means the possibility of transporting out more trials!

From the subject’s point of position most people are less likely to mind a brief or “one-off” break in their or their children’s life. This means that bigger pools of topics are made available to the theoretician and his chosen topics should accurately reflect the population.

In any survey there are outwardnesss that the research worker must take into history that might impact the nature of informations collected or the result of any trial. For cross-sectional attacks this turns into a major disadvantage as each group of topics has its ain single outwardnesss that may do the groups uncomparable. It should be noted that most outwardnesss are provided for by homogenizing groups ( ethnicity. societal category etc ) but the consequence of others. such as economic stableness of the state. may be hard or impossible to gauge.

Elder ( 1974. cited in Berk 2000 ) compared two groups antecedently studied. one Born in the early 20s and one in the late 20s. The first developed a high involvement in occupation security and household life while the 2nd developed an involvement in instruction. The unmanageable outwardness was World War II which prompted much of the 2nd group to fall in the ground forces.

Cross-sectional surveies focus on abilities at the blink of an eye of the survey. and do non depict the visual aspect of new accomplishments or features or the velocity they were achieved. A simple illustration is that of physical growing in tallness ; a survey of one. two. and three twelvemonth olds will demo highs at those phases but would non demo if growing was gradual or occurred in jets.

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In the other attack many of these disadvantages are overcome. The longitudinal attack is accepted to be more elaborate and explanatory as it follows the class of persons over clip so their development can be noted as it happens and non at certain checkpoints. All jets and associated abilities can be more accurately defined in this manner. This person survey besides means that the advancement charted is that of existent individuals non norms and therefore is viewed as a better contemplation of world.

The penchant for this theoretical account may besides stem from the fact that most psychologists are interested in HOW? and WHY? people develop. non merely placing the times at which or the ways they do. These inquiries are answered by the jets and associated abilities that can be defined. Rutter ( 1987/1988. cited in Sroufe Cooper and Dehart 1996. H. Schaffer 1996 ) used this method to reason that a separation from one’s parents before age four has a major negative consequence on one’s rearing accomplishments.

All the topics of longitudinal research are equals and hence they face the same outwardnesss doing them easy comparable with each other. fewer differences are attributed to external factors. As topics are changeless. it can be assumed that age is the major factor and so informations can be accurately compared with that of the same topics at earlier ages.

This is besides a major disadvantage of longitudinal attacks. The fact that all topics are susceptible to the same outwardnesss means that they have a alone environment and the features of their development may reflect merely that of their equals ; this is called the cohort consequence. The findings of Elder. Van Nguyen & A ; Caspi ( 1985 as cited in Berk 2000 ) . province that misss are faced with less favorable conditions during economic battle than male childs. this may non nevertheless be applicable today as the striplings were traveling through an utmost state of affairs. World War I. at the clip.

The longitudinal attack maps single development and must be carried out as the topic ages. this is normally a figure of old ages perchance even a life-time. This continuance causes much of the disadvantages associated with this survey. including:

Participants may travel off. dice or merely alter their head. dropping out of the proving programme. This means that the attendant topics may non reflect the original sample. Many people would non welcome the changeless invasion of trials and so may be loath to subscribe up at all. The research worker therefore has a biased original pool of topics who may differ significantly from the norm ;

The research worker must besides observe that topics are on a regular basis exposed to proving conditions and may use to trials. hence responses may be practiced or accustomed frequently impacting the truth of the survey ;

Accepted methods of appraisal may alter during the continuance of longer surveies and the examiner is faced with the pick of decreasing continuity by altering methods or go oning with an out-of-date testing method ;

Regular testing will go expensive particularly over important clip periods which may hold greater importance than advantages mentioned. Sponsorship may be lost. or. hard or impossible to acquire in the first topographic point!

The benefits of both methods force theoreticians to take between them. the pick normally depends on the nature of the survey and available finance. There is no absolute ground for utilizing either attack as the weight of the characteristics and mistakes are state of affairs sensitive. Recently both attacks have been combined for better consequences. The longitudinal -segmented design for illustration includes short term longitudinal surveies of several closely aged groups until there is some common land. the consequences are compared much like those of a cross sectional survey. The fillips and mistakes of both methods remain high but are drastically minimised. chiefly lower costs because of shorter continuances ; and more elaborate informations because there is regular testing of each group.


Sroufe L. Alan. Cooper Robert G. and De Hart Ganie B. ( 1996 ) Child Development: Its nature and Course. U. S. A. : McGraw-Hill

Berk L. ( 2000 ) Child Development. Boston: Allyn Bacon

Gleitman. H. ( 1999 ) Psychology New York: W. W. Norton.

Schaffer H. ( 1996 ) Social Development. Oxford: Blackwell Press


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