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science of human development

the science that seeks to understand how and why people of all ages and circumstances change or remain the same over time


based on observation, experience, or experiment; not theoretical

scientific method

a way to answer questions that requires empirical research and data-based conclusions


a specific prediction that is stated in such a way that it can be tested and either confirmed or refuted


signifies developments over time that appear to persist, unchanging, from one age to the next


signifies developments that appear quite different from those that came before

critical period

a time when a particular type of developmental growth (in a body or behavior) must happen

sensitive period

a time when a certain type of development is most likely to happen and happens most easily (ex: language learning)


a group of people who were born at about the same time and thus move through life together, experiencing the same historical events and cultural shifts at about the same time

socioeconomic status (SES)

a person's position in society as determined by income, wealth, occupation, education, place of residence, and other factors

ethnic group

people whose ancestors were born in the same region and who often share a language, culture, and religion


a group of people who are regarded by themselves or by others as distinct from other groups on the basis of physical appearance

social construction

an idea that is built on shared perceptions, not on objective reality


the idea that abilities, personality, and other human traits can change over time

scientific observation

a method of testing a hypothesis by unobtrusively watching and recording participants' behavior in a systematic and objective manner, in a natural setting, in a laboratory, or in searches of archival data


a research method in which the researcher tries to determine the cause-and-effect relationships between two variables by manipulating one and observing and recording the results

independent variable

the variable that is introduced to see what effect it has on the dependent variable

dependent variable

the variable that may change as a result of whatever new condition or situation the experimenter adds

experimental group

a group of participants in a research study who experience some special treatment or condition

comparison group/ control group

the group who doesn't experience the special condition or treatment in an experiment


a research method in which information is collected from a large number of people by interview

case study

a research method in which one individual is studied intensively

cross-sectional research

a research design that compares groups of people who differ in age but are similar in other important characteristics

longitudinal research

a research in which the same individuals are followed over time and their development is repeatedly assessed

cross-sequential research

a hybrid research method in which researchers first study several groups of people of different ages

quantitative research

research that provides data that can be expressed with numbers, such as ranks or scales

qualitative research

research that considers qualities instead of quantities

code of ethics

a set of moral principles that members of a profession or group are expected to follow

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