Evaluating Developmental Research

Sources of developmental research—scholarly journals and books, national magazine surveys, television programs, and tabloids—vary considerably in the quality of information offered. Consequently, properly assessing research validity is important when studying developmental psychology. Poorly designed or conducted research tends to fuel society's misconceptions about developmental topics, such as the topic or myth that older adults are never interested in sex. While the media tend to present the elderly as asexual grandparent‐types, this stereotype contradicts actual scientific research that shows nearly 90 percent of older‐adult residents in nursing homes are sexually active.
Professional journals and periodicals are the most accurate sources of scientific information about life‐span development. Professional researchers and clinicians contribute the majority of material to these journals, but their peers also review the material. Thus, the quality of the research published tends to be quite high. A few of the leading developmental journals include Child Development, Children Today, Developmental Psychology, Family Life Educator, Family Relations, Journal of Gerontology, Journal of Marriage and Family, and Pediatrics. Popular magazines and broadcast journalism generally do not provide accurate or scientific information about life‐span development. Instead, studies reported in these media are usually sensationalistic and/or poorly designed.