Longitudinal Designs: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:06 Definition
  • 1:21 Example 1
  • 2:47 Example 2
  • 3:46 Benefits and Issues
  • 5:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Devin Kowalczyk

Devin has taught psychology and has a master's degree in clinical forensic psychology. He is working on his PhD.

This lesson discusses the uses and procedures in running a longitudinal design. In addition, we also explore some of the benefits and issues that can occur when using such a design.

Longitudinal Design: Definition

There are a lot of things science can study, and there are a lot of clever ways to study things. For instance, a typical way to study the effects of chemicals on living things is to inject them into rats and see what happens.

But what about people? You can't inject people with chemicals to see how it affects them over a lifetime. More than this, you can't inject rats with human culture. Moving away from injecting chemical stuff into people and rats and into the psychological stuff, how do we study the effects of something like television or the environment on people?

A longitudinal design is a research study where a sample of the population is studied at intervals to examine the effects of development. In a longitudinal design, you have a group of people and you study something about them. Then you collect their contact information. After a set amount of time - be it weeks, months or years - the participants are called and asked to return.

Tests are re-administered to see what changes are in the participants. Let's look at some examples, and then we will discuss some benefits and issues with this type of design.

Example One

There is evidence to suggest that there is a link between violence and television, and you, as a researcher, have been hired by a media company to determine whether their new programming decreases violence in the next year. You collect a group of participants to study. Because you want to reduce the amount of interference, you collect a large group of participants from a pool of those who may watch the programming. If the program is meant for three- to seven-year-olds, then you aren't going to collect teenagers.

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