Early Experience and Human Development by Theodore D. Wachs

By Theodore D. Wachs

Our aim in scripting this publication was once to fill a perceived hole within the early experi­ ence literature. so much current volumes on early event and improvement might be dichotomized on a easy as opposed to an utilized size. Volumes falling at the easy aspect are designed for researchers and theoreticians within the biomed­ ical and behavioral sciences. so much current easy volumes are both based on infrahuman facts or are in accordance with unmarried significant human reports. In going over those volumes, we're not confident of the generality of infrahu­ guy facts to the human point; furthermore, we have been all for the replicability of findings from unmarried experiences, besides the fact that good designed those reports have been. hence, the relevance of information from those volumes to utilized human difficulties is sort of constrained. by contrast, volumes falling at the utilized aspect are designed essentially for these occupied with intervention paintings with babies and youngsters. those utilized books have a tendency to be imprecise and nonempirical compilations of the perspectives of specialists and the collective "wisdom of the a while. " infrequently in utilized volumes will we locate conclusions in line with strong, constant, empirical findings.

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Such thinking is obviously magical rather than scientific. (pp. 269-270) It appears clear, as McCall (1977) notes, that causal statements derived in the laboratory must be tested in the natural habitat of the child before one can accept the generalizability of the original causal statement. A second problem centers around the ecological validity of manipulative studies. Even in infra human research it is becoming increasingly clear that laboratory-based behavioral studies have at best only a limited value in explaining the behavior of organisms in their natural habitat for such parameters as rearing patterns, exploration (Hutt & Hutt, 1970), and the maintenance of leadership (Willems, 1969).

Problems associated with cross-sectional designs, including statistical inefficiency and the necessity to ensure comparable samples, have been discussed elsewhere (Wohlwill, 1973a). Generational-cohort effects are rarely a problem in cross-sectional -arly experience research because of the brief duration of the age span, unless one is attempting to compare data from cross-sectional studies done in different eras. If one assumes a lack of generational effects in early experience cross-sectional studies, the use of a series of superimposed short-term overlapping, longitudinal followups (the convergence method: Wohlwill, 1973a) may be one satisfactory compromise between pure cross-sectional and longitudinal observational designs.

Some of these are based on the use of observation per se and these will be covered in the following section. Others are unique to attitudinal measures per se. In general, there appear to be four specific objections to the use of attitudinal measures as indexes of early experience. First, in most cases attitudinal measures are derived from observations of mother-child interaction. As we have noted previously (Landau, 1976), particularly as children get older the mother represents a decreasing influence on the child's development.

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