Discussion: The Role of Theory in Social and Emotional Research

When looking through a historical lens, the study of social and emotional development research is relatively new. High infant and child mortality rates throughout much of history led to a low investment in children on multiple fronts. Many children who did survive their early years worked alongside families on farms. It was not until the work of some developmental theorists in the early 1900s, such as John Watson and G. Stanley Hall, that individuals started to see the unique vulnerabilities of children as well as the ways in which their unfolding emotional and social development had long-term implications for their lives into adulthood and beyond.

As with all other areas of developmental psychology, developmental theory is a basic guiding principle and foundation for research and intervention initiatives related to social and emotional development. Theory is defined as “a group of ideas, assumptions, and generalizations that interpret and illuminate thousands of observations about human growth. A developmental theory provides a framework for explaining the patterns and problems of development” (Berger, 2016, p. 23). Theories are a key aspect to research on social and emotional development, as they lead to testable hypotheses that researchers examine in their work.

Theories around social and emotional development have evolved over the past 100 years. Different social scientists began proposing contradictory theories as similar phenomena began to emerge. These theories needed to be tested to determine their validity, and the field of developmental psychology was born.

For this Discussion, you explore theories of social and emotional development and analyze their application in research articles.

To Prepare:

· Review this week’s Learning Resources for an overview of theories of social and emotional development.

· Identify a research study available in the Walden Library that was published in a peer-reviewed journal in the past 5 years and pertains to some aspect of social or emotional development. Avoid theoretical or review articles.

· Identify the theory applied in the research study.

By Day 4

Post a brief description of the article you selected. Include a PDF of the article as an attachment to the Discussion board. Identify the theory applied in the article. Summarize the theory in a paragraph. Does the research support or refute the theory applied in the article? Explain your response. Finally, explain in your own words why theory is important in social and emotional research.

Then: Select one article that a colleague posted to the board. Review the article and how the identified theory was applied. Try to choose a colleague whose article/post has not had a response yet.

By Day 6

Respond to at least one colleague by explaining whether your colleague correctly identified and summarized the theory and why. Please discuss any insights into the theory and research findings you gained by reading your colleague’s article in light of her or his post.

Resources for This Week

Gendron, M., & Barrett, L. F. (2009). Reconstructing the past: A century of ideas about emotion in psychology. Emotion Review, 4, 316–339.

Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.

Lamb, M. E. (2015). Processes underlying social, emotional, and personality development: A preliminary survey of the terrain. In R. M. Lerner & M. E. Lamb (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology and developmental science: Vol. 3, Socioemotional processes (7th ed., pp. 1–10). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Mauss, I. B., & Robinson, M. D. (2009). Measures of emotion: A review. Cognition and Emotion, 23, 209–237.

Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.

Salovey, P., & Pizarro, D. A. (2003). The value of emotional intelligence. In R. J. Sternberg, J. Lautrey, & T. I. Lubart (Eds.), Models of intelligence: International perspective (pp. 263–278). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Erikson, E. (1950). Eight ages of Man. In E. Erikson, Childhood and society (pp 247-274). New York, NY: Norton

Clark-Stewart, A, & Park, R. D. (2014). Social Development (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley

Chapter 1, “Introduction Theories of Social Development” (pp 1-29)

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