Role of Theory in the Research


Research is undertaken through defined research designs and methodologies. Qualitative research is both complex and detailed depending on the field of study. In the field of social sciences, both researchers and participants work in a team to ensure that the objectives of the study project are achieved within scheduled timeframes (Leavy & Hesse-Biber, 2010). The power relationship between researchers and their respondents is maintained at an equilibrium that empowers all parties during the study. Secondly, research designs are qualitatively structured with the purpose of appreciating the context and the phenomenon within the scope of research. Parameters such as gender, age, race, and economic status are usually factored in a comprehensive qualitative study. The understanding behind a qualitative method of study is to develop enough insight into the social phenomena underpinning the survey. As such, relevant theory is essential in defining structural elements for effective qualitative research towards achieving the general perspectives and objectives agreed upon.

The principle behind qualitative research is based on material practices that locate an individual within the larger society. The material practices underpinning such a discourse integrate the following; “series of interviews, field notes, interviews, conversations, photographs, recordings, and personal memos” (Creswell, 2003). These represent a qualitative interpretation of different phenomena in the physical world through the contributions of various participants. The core of any qualitative research is the qualitative inquiry into the methodologies and philosophies behind various participant contributions and the scope of the study. The different social issues that present themselves during the actual research could be complex and dynamic but they constitute the foundation for empirical studies and findings.

On the other hand, quantitative studies are carried out to measure different aspects of the said qualitative studies for the purpose of developing the scope of the entire process. The difference between qualitative and quantitative research is that the former investigates the subject matter for the surveys while the latter interprets and examines the findings of the qualitative discourse. Essentially, qualitative studies are executed from the viewpoint where information is collected within the scope and phenomenon of the study while quantitative studies establish the real meaning behind data (Lichtman, 2009). Correct interpretation in giving meaning to qualitative research.

Case Study on the Development across the Lifespan in Childhood Psychosocial Development


The interviewees were two adults about the behavioral traits of their three- to nine-month-old infants. A written consent was obtained from the client prior to the interview regarding development across the lifespan in psychosocial development based on the subject of temperament. Temperament could be defined as a condition of reactivity and emotional attention towards different life issues. Temperament has a significant impact on different developmental pathways in life, particularly in socialization. Temperament outcomes are reflected in behavioral patterns and the development of an individual’s conscience in life towards the acquisition of specific personality traits. Both the young and the old exhibit different cognitive aspects as far as their behavior is concerned in relation to their personality. Temperament may include various emotional attributes such as “fear, frustration, sadness and discomfort” which control an individual’s thought patterns and actions (Feldman, 2005). Temperament is therefore a developmental outcome that reflects an individual’s competence and motivation.

Research Design

Research on the topic of temperament across the lifespan in childhood development was carried out using multiple methods which included questionnaires and interviews meant to capture the positive and negative sides of temperament in emotional and psychosocial development (Mosher Ralph, 2006).

Research Context

The research was conducted using unstructured interviews analyzed through content analysis which identified temper dimensions such as “activity level, rhythmicity, approach-withdrawal, adaptability, thresholds, intensity, mood, distractibility and attention span-persistence” (Zimbardo & Gerrig, 2010).

Key Research Questions

  1. What are the principal features of temperament exhibited in infancy and childhood?
  2. In what stages is temperament developed?
  3. Which psychosocial attributes are linked with temperament?
  4. What are the inherent and experiential factors that contribute to temperament?

Research Findings

Temperament dimensions during infancy and early childhood were identified as follows:

  1. Positive affectivity
  2. Activity level
  3. Fearfulness
  4. Anger/frustration
  5. Attentional orienting
  6. Effortful control

These factors were identified as the most important features of temperament in infancy and early childhood development as far as emotional and behavioral development is concerned. These factors were highlighted during the interviews as part of the crucial developmental dimensions in emotional and Attentional brain structure in living beings. Findings revealed that temperament develops during the initial stages of childhood in a differential manner, exhibiting different attributes in “Attentional orienting, distress proneness, positive affect, and approach as well as frustration” (Molfese & Molfese, 2000).

It was noted that by six months of childhood, babies reacted and responded differently when presented with various toys. Some tried to establish contact with them faster while others were observed to be relaxed and withdrawn. These variations in infant approach tendencies were equally manifested through differences in conveying emotions and feelings through smiling and laughing. By the end of the first year of childhood, differences were identified as far as response to intense external stimuli from the immediate environment. Children who exhibited strong attraction and response to objects during infancy were found to be slow towards certain emotional traits. Fearful inhibition explains this childhood phenomenon wherein children are observed to be gentle, guilty conscious, and shameful before adults and even peers (Perlmutter, Lerner, & Hetherington, 2008).

Fearful children were also observed to develop greater internalized conscience if parents were supportive in terms of providing disciplinary guidance to their children. Maternal responsiveness and close contact with children were found to entrench greater fearfulness in children. These factors also had an impact on the development of strong internal conscience.

Effortful control took over emotional development towards the end of the first year of childhood development. Children were observed to develop greater ability in regulating reactive tendencies and focus. At this stage, children are expected to have developed brain systems with higher control and regulation of emotions than in early childhood. The executive attention system of the brain develops by effortful control in which children are capable of sustained attention towards people and objects. A one to the two-year-old child, therefore, becomes capable of restraining himself from touching a prohibited object and exhibiting a high manifestation of compliance. Children are observed to be loyal and obedient to their parents during this period as compared to adolescents’ orientation towards negative feelings. Effortful control among infants and young children is also manifested through the development of empathy, guilt, and shame towards adults particularly parents. Temperament systems are therefore a product of developmental stages in brain networks during different ages in children (Zimbardo & Gerrig, 2010).

Actual Interviews

The set of interviews below were conducted for one and a half hours. Respondents were two parents from different families both being fathers whose identities were withheld for confidentiality purposes. Parent A is a father of two while parent B is a father of one child.

Interviewer: I wish to appreciate your informal and formal consent to this interview on such private matters as your children’s affairs and welfare. I am very grateful for your support in this undertaking and would like to inform you that the next one and a half hours of the interview will be properly accounted for. As I stated earlier, this independent study is part of my project as a nursing student at Rider University. Thence, the interview would be recorded for academic purposes. Interviews then followed suit.


Temperament dimensions identified during the interview apply to the broad dimensions in theory which include the positive affect and negative affectivity whose affiliations were qualitatively analyzed (Mosher Ralph, 2006). Links could be established between negative affectivity and behavioral problems. The two families provided insight on matters of fearfulness in infancy and brain processes associated with temperament. Social learning, behavioral development, and emotional well-being of infants in their early life were identified as crucial factors in temperament development.

Developmental outcomes illustrated how early age defined the manner in which children responded and reacted to circumstances, including their affinity to selected and prohibited toys. In addition, children’s cognitive processing of events was observed to be a reflection of parental attachment. While strong maternal bonds existed during infancy and early childhood, fathers provided general care which supplemented maternal roles such as breastfeeding and babysitting. Children also exhibited behaviors reinforced by their parents. As such, they refrained from toys prohibited by parents, and they expressed strong affection to objects which pleased the entire family (Bergman, 2008). This is a manifestation of Attentional and effortful control during child development.


Creswell, J. W. (2003). Research design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method approaches. New York: SAGE.

Leavy, P. & Hesse-Biber, S. N. (2010). Handbook of Emergent Methods. New York: Guilford Press.

Lichtman, M. (2009). Qualitative Research in Education: A User’s Guide. London: SAGE.

Bergman, M. M. (2008). Advances in mixed methods research: theories and applications. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Feldman, R. S. (2005). Development across the Life Span. London: Pearson/Prentice Hall.

Molfese, D. L. & Molfese, V. J. (2000). Temperament and Personality Development across the Life Span. London: Rout ledge.

Mosher Ralph, L. (2006). Human Development across the Life Span: Educational and Psychological Applications. New York: IAP.

Perlmutter, M., Lerner, R. M., & Hetherington, E. M. (2008). Child Development in Life- spans Perspective. London: Rout ledge.

Zimbardo, P. G. & Gerrig, R. J. (2010). Psychology and Life. Michigan: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.