The aim of this study was to research adults knowledge of developmental norms in infants. It was found that although the results in 2 of the hypotheses were in the right direction the results were not significant. Females had no increased knowledge of developmental norms than males, those with siblings had no better knowledge of developmental norms and those with younger siblings also did not know more about developmental norms. Overall it can be concluded that adults in this sample were not particularly well informed of developmental norms as the mean score was under 50%.
Implications for literature in this field consequently may be to try and increase the populations knowledge of developmental norms, for example, more education programmes available on development of infants. The importance of this to society would mean many more children with delayed development would receive the help necessary to live a more fulfilled life. In order to try and explain why the predictions were not supported the limitations must be discussed. Most obviously, the relatively small and unequal group sizes may be accountable for the results.
The total number of males was a fraction of the total number of females, meaning the mean score of males was based on an incredibly small sample. The external validity, or the generalisabilty to the population is not very reliable, the hypotheses may be supported by data in the population as a whole, or even in a study with a larger sample size. The conditions the experiment was conducted in were also not ideal for a reliable scientific study. Although asked not to the participants could freely discuss their answers so the responses to some questionnaires may have been a reflection of the collective opinion of some participants.
The sex of the participant and information about siblings was required, it is possible the responses may have been shaped on the basis of social norms and characteristics seen as socially desirable for males and females. Participants quite easily could assume the experiment is based on gender differences and knowledge of children, it is commonly considered more socially acceptable for females to be caring and maternal, and males to have more masculine characteristics. Consequently male participants may not wish to appear feminine and make frivolous guesses in order to conform to these expectations.
Conforming to this may also be seen as a demand characteristic if the males assumed this is the result the experimenter hopes to find. However trivial each of these limitations may appear, it is always possible they may have an impact on the outcome, further research would be useful in this instance to eliminate these weaknesses. To conclude, it has been discussed how developmental norms are significant and valuable to us, there are extensive theories and tests for children to measure their development and for psychologists to assess how abilities change with time.
It is therefore plausible that society should be well informed of these developmental norms, especially as the implications for children who do have developmental problems could be very severe if they are not provided with the help required. The results were inconsistent with the hypotheses, it is reasonable to propose that the samples knowledge of developmental norms would be inadequate to recognise problems had the participants been raising children.
When discussing this study it may be more useful to consider when in an adults life knowledge of developmental norms is most important. For example in this study the sample was first year undergraduate Psychology students, therefore it is logical to assume the prospect of children is not at the forefront of their future plans, therefore knowledge of developmental norms isn’t a priority. Further research could consequently be to investigate new and expecting parents knowledge of developmental norms and trust their knowledge of these norms is superior to those in this study.
Griffiths, R. (1984). The Abilities of Young Children. High Wycombe: The Test Agency.
A. Slater & G. Bremner (2003) An Introduction to developmental Psychology. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
A. Slater & Lewis (2002), Introduction to infant development. Ch 14. Oxford: Oxford University Press.