Web Exercises

Web Exercise #1: Learning How to Be a Critical Consumer of Research

LO 1.4: Describe the research methods used in studying human development, including types of data and designs.

As noted in your textbook, research is a critical aspect of our understanding of human development. However, a challenge that students--and the general population--often face is how to discriminate between a good research study and a bad research study. If you spend some time online, you can find studies on virtually any topic that you want, even seemingly ridiculous topics like Castration Is the Key for Long Life in Men, Eating Chocolate May Help You Win the Nobel Prize, and Do Owners and Their Dogs Have Similar Personalities? Although these studies can be fun to read, inaccurate research claims can have profound and long-lasting consequences. For example, in 1998, a well-respected journal, Lancet, presented a study suggesting that immunization (specifically, the vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella) was responsible for the increase in autism. As a result, many parents refused to vaccinate their children--a decision that could have been fatal. Years later, Lancet retracted the study, indicating that ethical violations had come to light and that the data used in the study were flawed. Although the lead author, Andrew Wakefield, stood by his work, 10 of the 13 co-authors abandoned the study, citing concerns that it could damage public health efforts.

To help you learn what you need to know to be a critical consumer of psychological research, visit the following website, which is sponsored by WorldPress.com: https://technology4engagement.wordpress.com/138-2/. Watch Michael Schriemer’s video The Baloney Detection Kit and summarize the rules that you should follow when presented with new ideas or when challenging your current beliefs and assumptions. Next, locate a website that provides information or advice on a topic that is interesting to you. You may choose any topic as long as it relates to the study of lifespan development. Next, critique the website based on the rules presented in Michael Schriemer’s video. Based on your critique, would you feel comfortable recommending the website to a friend or family member? Why or why not? Be sure to include the URL for the website that you used for this activity.


Web Exercise #2: Participate in an Online Research Study

LO 1.4: Describe the research methods used in studying human development, including types of data and designs.

In Chapter 1, you are presented with an overview of research methods commonly used in the study of human development. For this activity, you will have an opportunity to participate in an actual online study. The website below, sponsored by Psychological Research on the Net, presents dozens of online research studies related to such topics as cognition, cyberpsychology, developmental psychology, educational psychology, gender, health psychology, mental health, personality, sexuality, and social psychology. Visit the website and select a study that is related to your major, research interests, or personal interests. Complete the study and answer the following questions:

  1. What topic did you select?
  2. What type of self-report method was used in this study? What are the strengths and weaknesses of this method?
  3. Were any ethical guidelines presented prior to completing the study? If so, describe them.
  4. What do you think are the benefits and limitations of online research? Do you think the results of such studies are accurate? Why or why not?

Psychological Research on the Net


Web Exercise #3: Researching Ethical Guidelines for Special Populations

LO 1.5: Discuss the responsibility of researchers to their participants and how they may protect them from harm.

Your textbook presents an overview of five ethical principles that guide developmental scientists’ work. Although these principles apply to all research, there are also ethical guidelines designed to protect vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women, the homeless, prisoners, and children. Visit one of the following websites, which provides guidelines for research with special populations. Select a population and summarize the ethical guidelines that must be followed with this particular group. Why does the population that you selected require extra protection?

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

US Department of Health and Human Services

US National Library of Medicine: National Institutes of Health