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The ability to conduct research is one of the core competencies needed for effective work in the field of psychology. Through the investigation of particular issues, the researchers attempt to accumulate information that may contribute to the topical problem resolving. Nowadays, two basic types of the methodology are usually used for research –qualitative and quantitative, and the application of particular research methods depends on the character of the analyzed problems and formulated questions.
The purpose of this paper is the evaluation of the research design and research instruments implemented by the authors of two qualitative and quantitative studies used to analyze the psychological implications of childhood maltreatment and abuse. The evaluation of interrelations between the works’ purposes and the research methods will allow the estimation of the research design efficiency and will help to understand the researchers’ motivation for the selection of a particular methodological approach.
Purpose and Contents
The purpose of the qualitative study “Childhood maltreatment and psychological adjustment: A systematic review” is the investigation of childhood physical and emotional maltreatment impacts on individuals’ self-esteem and social performance (Pacheco, Irigaray, Werlang, Nunes, & Argimon, 2014, p. 815). The research paper consists of the Abstract, Introduction, Method, Results and Discussion sections. The Results and Discussion section includes the article selection flowchart and the table describing the main constructs of the reviewed studies. The paper is completed with the Final Considerations and References sections.
The quantitative research paper “Child maltreatment and children’s developmental trajectories in early to middle childhood” by Font and Berger (2014) has the purpose of evaluating the interrelations between childhood maltreatment and the adverse outcomes in the cognitive and social-emotional development of individuals (p. 536). The paper is comprised of the introduction and literature review that includes the sections devoted to the description of the theoretical frameworks, physical and supervisory neglect issues, physical and emotional abuse, as well as associations between child maltreatment and child development.
The following sections include Method (data, sample, measures, and analytical approach) Results, and Discussion (conclusion and limitations). The paper is supplemented with tables and schemes visualizing the results and data of the descriptive statistics. The list of references completes the work.
In the course of the human psychological, emotional, and cognitive evolving, one of the most important roles are given to the stage of early childhood development because, during the first years of life, the individuals adopt the basic skills and experience the substantial growth in terms of intellect, self-identity, and neurophysiology. Throughout the early childhood period, an individual learns to recognize emotions and develops the skills of social interactions that will later help him/her to adjust to the social norms and standards of behavior, and build relationships with peers effectively.
The role of the favorable social environment and sound parent-child relations in the attainment of positive developmental outcomes is widely recognized. According to Font and Berger (2014), the early childhood maltreatment is associated with a vast range of developmental problems throughout the lifespan in the multiple aspects of academic and social performance, emotional and behavioral self-regulation, and the psychological well-being (p. 537).
Many types of maltreatment are distinguished: emotional or physical neglect, verbal or physical abuse, lack of adequate supervision, etc. According to Pacheco and colleagues (2014), it is observed that “the abused children are generally exposed to more than one type of maltreatment,” and the degree of emotional or psychological impairment in a child largely depends on the type and severity of abuse (p. 815).
Childhood emotional abuse and maltreatment provoke many developmental disadvantages in exposed individuals, and it may be regarded as one of the risk factors accelerating the development of different psychological disorders such as depression or anxiety. Thus, the evaluation of the negative impacts and their extent is important, because understanding the impairments’ causes may help to find the ways for the efficient improvement of the maltreated individuals’ conditions, self-esteem increase, and enhancement of their cognitive and social performance.
Research Problems: Qualitative Study
In their systematic review, Pacheco and colleagues (2014) investigated the problem of the extent to which exposure to maltreatment in childhood affects the psychological and social adjustment (p. 814). The main tool for data collection was the assessment of the previous literature constructs and findings. Through the evaluation of the recent research, the authors attempted to give the definition to childhood maltreatment and analyze the main constructs of the concept such as self-esteem, child, scholastic achievement, and relationships with peers.
Nineteen of the evaluated studies included merely the quantitative research papers, and a large portion of the researchers’ efforts were devoted to the assessment of the analysis methods and instruments implemented in the studies. It was observed that the main data collection tools included Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, Harter Self-Perception Profile, Harter’s Perceived Competence Scale, Test of Basic Skills, Wide Range Achievement, etc. (Pacheco et al., 2014, p. 819). The total number of the sample assessed in the studies was 8014.
During the research conduction, the authors have found that there is a direct connection between individuals’ exposure to maltreatment and abuse in childhood and the level of social adjustment skills development in adults and adolescents (Pacheco et al., 2014, p. 815). Moreover, the literature review also helped to identify and analyze the instruments for the assessment of the topic-related variables and evaluate the sample participants’ profiles. The identification of the assessment tools may be regarded as a secondary objective of the research.
Since the main question formulated in the study was related to the impacts of childhood maltreatment on social performance and psycho-emotional well-being in adulthood, the systematic review contributed to a better understanding of the issue. The findings of the paper provide comprehensive evidence demonstrating the negative effects of childhood abuse on lifespan development. The findings may be effectively used in the professional practice and studying of psychology.
Research Problems: Quantitative Study
Similarly to the qualitative study, quantitative research evaluated the extent of the childhood maltreatment impacts on the course of individuals’ development (Font & Berger, 2015, p. 536). According to the authors’ rationale, the previous studies’ conclusions regarding the scope of psychological childhood abuse impact on later development remain unclear. Thus, the main objective of the researchers’ work was aimed at the analysis of the causal interrelations between the variables of maltreatment and the adverse developmental outcomes (Font & Berger, 2015, p. 536).
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Through the preliminary literature review, Font and Berger (2015) established that the several hypotheses regarding the childhood maltreatment and its effects exist: 1) there is the direct link between these variables; 2) the interrelations between them are characterized by likelihood, 3) the variable of maltreatment has influence only in combination with other negative factors (i.e. poverty); and 4) the link between the variable is associated with the “ongoing feedback loop” (Font & Berger, 2015, p. 536). All four hypotheses were taken into consideration in the attempts to evaluate the dynamics of interrelations between research variables of childhood maltreatment and its effects.
The sample of the longitudinal study included 4.898 children under the age of 9. The data was collected from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study providing information about the disadvantaged families: parenting quality, income level, ethnic background, etc. (Font & Berger, 2015, p. 536). All the children included in the sample were assessed at birth, and the ages of 1, 3, 5, and 9. The researchers used the Child Behavior Checklist for the assessment of the social-emotional state of the children, and the self-reports for the identification of maltreatment and abuse. The study covariates included the parental educational level, marital status, economic state, mental health, etc. (Font & Berger, 2015, p. 544). The data analysis was conducted with the 2 level HML equation.
The estimation of large sample indicators helped the researchers to identify that there is the direct and immediate negative effect of childhood maltreatment on the psycho-emotional state of individuals (Font & Berger, 2015, p. 536). The findings demonstrate that the developmental outcomes are largely influenced by the repeated maltreatment and adverse experiences; moreover, it is observed that the early maltreatment may be regarded as a premise for the consequent negative developmental outcomes.
Through their substantial longitudinal research, the authors attempted to cover the gaps in the investigation of childhood maltreatment effects conducted in the previous literature. The cohort study of 4.898 individuals helped to evaluate the dynamics of the relationships between the children’s negative experiences and their social and emotional well-being. The researchers considered a vast number of variables to increase the reliability of the results. Therefore, it is possible to say that the quantitative study conducted by Font and Berger (2015) may be regarded as one of the most comprehensive recent works providing the evidence for the academic and scientific practice in psychology.
Both qualitative and quantitative methodologies allowed the researchers to answer the formulated research questions and come to a similar conclusion in the evaluation of relations between childhood maltreatment and developmental outcomes. Nevertheless, it is possible to say that the quantitative research provided fresh and up-to-date data while qualitative study allowed the authors to summarize the previous findings and make the inference based on the indirectly received information. At the same time, qualitative research may be regarded as efficient in the analysis of multiple research instruments and their effectiveness.
Although the authors of both articles attained similar results and the findings of their studies have some conformity points, (i.e. childhood maltreatment impacts emotional, cognitive, and social performance of individuals) it is possible to say that the quality of results is slightly different. The longitudinal assessment of the live sample may be considered more valuable from the scientific point of view than the literature analysis. The authors of the quantitative research paper attempted to study the issue from a new perspective and involved a comprehensive theoretical framework to support the analysis. Thus, their findings have significant value for the field of psychology.
Font, S. A., & Berger, L. M. (2014). Child maltreatment and children’s developmental trajectories in early to middle childhood. Child Development, 86(2), 536-556. Web.
Pacheco, J., Irigaray, T., Werlang, B., Nunes, M., & Argimon, I. (2014). Childhood maltreatment and psychological adjustment: A systematic review. Psicologia, Reflexão e Crítica, 27(4), 815-824. Web.