Defining Development Developmental Psychology is the study of behavior, and how it changes in relation to changing environments over the life time. Thus, we?ll study the changes in behavior, emotion, thought, and environment across the life span. Why Study Development? We study development because the knowledge we gain can help us live better lives. Goals of Science The goals of science are: Description Explanation Predication Control (Influence) Of the world around us Description Scientists describe what they observe. When we want to learn about something new we just look, listen, and talk about what we experience. For example, only a small fraction of people live to be 100 years old. A developmental researcher might start by observing and describing the lives of 100 year olds. Explanation Scientists attempt to explain or offer reasons for why people develop the ways they do. Just as climatologist might explain fluctuations in temperatures based on greenhouse gases, a developmental psychologist might point out a stoke to explain an elderly woman?s forgetfulness. Prediction Scientists attempt to predict how people will behave in the future. Predicting changes in cognitive functioning can help teachers predict when students will be ready to learn new material. Forensic psychologists might study a person?s personality to better predict if they will commit another crime. Control Scientists try to determine how one event can cause another, and then use this information to design new interventions and policies. A child psychologist might as whether a child who is potty trained too early causes a child to become emotionally distressed later in life. A gerontologist might be interested to know if playing games helps older people enhance their memories.
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