NICHD B2Granger

NICHD B2Granger - Child Development, July/August 2003,...

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Integrating Biological, Behavioral, and Social Levels of Analysis in Early Child Development: Progress, Problems, and Prospects Douglas A. Granger and Katie T. Kivlighan Integration of noninvasive, biological measures into behavioral research has increased, but the interpretation of biobehavioral findings in relation to developmental outcomes is rarely straightforward. This commentary highlights the need for specific, theoretically derived hypotheses, multiple measures of behavioral and biological processes, and analytical strategies aimed at explaining interindividual differences in intraindividual change. It is suggested here that the next phase of biosocial research needs to move beyond description and toward development of mid-level theories that will enable researchers to specify, test, and refine hypotheses of how biobehavioral processes interact with social-contextual factors to influence development. These mid-level biosocial models will be necessary to determine whether individual differences in children’s adrenocortical activity confer risk or resilience because of early or cumulative exposure to nonparental care. Developmental scientists have long assumed that physiological processes were critical components of human behavior. However, the nature of many behaviorally relevant biological processes was un- known until recently. It is not surprising that with only a general regard for the influence of biology, the most well-researched models of human develop- ment have focused on issues such as how intrinsic dispositions (e.g., temperament) or characteristics of social environments (e.g., parent–child relationships) affect individual and maturational differences (see Bowlby, 1958; Harris, 1957; Lerner, 1986). Biologists who did study effects of specific physiological processes on development employed basic models to reveal the biological determinants of behavior or the unfolding of the predisposed, matura- tional effects of biology (e.g., puberty) on individual developmental trajectories. Few of these biological researchers took social variables into account, and when they did, the variables tended to be treated as covariates rather than as moderators (Raine, 2002). Advances of the past two decades have enabled new opportunities to integrate biological measures into developmental research. A series of conceptual shifts have occurred that place new emphasis on the contributions of both nature and nurture to indivi- dual development (see Magnusson & Cairns, 1996; Plomin & Rutter, 1998; Rutter et al., 1997). At the cutting edge of this paradigm shift are behaviorally oriented scientists testing biosocial alternatives to traditional models of development. The new bioso- cial perspective employed by these investigators is built on living systems theory (Ford, 1987). Develop- ment is considered a product of individual and interactive influences among genetic, environmental, Dawson, 2002). More specifically, Gottlieb (1992)
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This note was uploaded on 09/28/2011 for the course PSYC 414 taught by Professor Aboud during the Fall '11 term at McGill.

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NICHD B2Granger - Child Development, July/August 2003,...

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