Developmental psychology

Research on

Developmental psychology

Although developmental psychology involves the entire lifespan, researchers mostly focus on the period in which changes follow each other fast, from birth to early adulthood.

Many studies are devoted to children, their education, and development. They explore topics such as children’s basic understanding of the physical world, how children acquire language, how learning behaviors develop, and how they interact socially with other people, for example in parent-child interaction studies.

Research on Developmental psychology
The Observer XT integrates all the data of the playing infant

Research tools for infant studies

The use of video greatly expands the scope of such a research project. That’s why numerous of researchers record video and use Viso® and The Observer® XT to capture infants' behaviors and reactions while they perform a task, are exposed to a novel object, are playing with a sibling or peer, or are having a meal. 

Coding the videos, whether they are made at home or in a lab, enables you to review, visualize and analyze the behaviors quickly. Moreover, The Observer XT seamlessly integrates all your data streams.


Infants’ facial expressions

Since young infants are unable to provide verbal feedback, their facial expressions can provide extra insights that help us to understand their emotional reactions. Baby FaceReader has been developed as a state of the art system to automatically detect infant facial expressions in order to help address questions in developmental psychology related to affect and developmental disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It can help analyze expressive behavior occurring in naturalistic and experimental situations and during parent-child interactions. 


Customer quote

"We enjoyed working with FaceReader software; it is easy to use and straightforward."

M. Kemmelmeier, Ph.D.|University of Nevada, USA


Free white paper

Tools for infant studies

Today’s researchers have developed a large number of tests and experiments to get a good impression of developmental processes in infancy. Studies are often carried out using audio and video recordings.

Download this free white paper to read more about these and other software tools available for infant studies.


Observe and code playing behavior

Naturalistic observation

Research is often performed in observation labs. You can observe an infant unobtrusively and in a setting similar to their natural environment. In a controlled environment, you can accurately measure exploratory gaze behavior or emotional reactions

In a home setting, researchers can use our portable lab, which includes equipment such as video cameras, recording and analysis software, or Pocket Observer, for scoring behavior on a handheld device. 

Some researchers use eye tracker data together with video recordings to capture the exact gaze of the infant.


Studying developmental disorders

Developmental disorders have a huge impact on someone's life. For example, children with ADHD or autism may have trouble concentrating in school, paying attention to others, and thinking things through.

Examples of studies

  • The purpose of the study of Purpura et al. was to verify if a higher frequency of repetitive movements (described through their rate and duration) could differentiate infants with ASD from infants with Developmental Delay (DD) and Typical Development (TD).
  • How can we understand emotional reactivity in children with ADHD? In the study of Tarle and her colleagues the relation between emotion regulation and working memory in children with and without this disorder was examined.
  • The Centre for Infant Cognition (CIC), at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, Canada, looked at minute eye gaze changes, hand gestures, and the emotions of infants while they observed a moral dilemma or social interaction, which was usually depicted in a puppet show.
  • Find more research examples of developmental psychology on our Behavioral Research Blog.
Observe eye gaze, hand gestures, and more!
Measure eating behavior on-site

White paper Autism Research

Research on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has increased enormously over the years, and has resulted in new understanding of how to set up different types of therapy, detect ASDs early in life, stimulate developmental processes, and so much more.

In this paper, we will describe how and why observational research methods are used in autism research worldwide and try to answer two questions: why should we observe behavior, and how can we observe behavior in a structured way?

white paper autism

Interesting publications

A diverse collection of scientific articles citing Noldus products are published in renowned journals. The following list is only a small selection of scientific publications.

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  • Gonzalez, S.L. et al. (2020). Preschool language ability is predicted by toddler hand preference trajectories. Developmental Psychology, 56(4), 699–709.
  • Salvadori, E.A. et al. (2021). Infant Emotional Mimicry of Strangers: Associations with Parent Emotional Mimicry, Parent-Infant Mutual Attention, and Parent Dispositional Affective Empathy. IJERPH, 18, 654.
  • Sandseter, E.B.H. et al. (2021). Associations between Children’s Risky Play and ECEC Outdoor Play Spaces and Materials. IJERPH, 18, 3354.

Relevant blogs

Using observational research to capture parent-child interaction

Using observational research to capture parent-child interaction

Researchers examined whether a combination of child and parental factors, such as the child's emotional temperament and parents' controlling feeding practices, influence food fussiness.
Eating behaviors in children: how is looking related to consumption?

Eating behaviors in children: how is looking related to consumption?

Is time spent looking at food related to eating behavior? Researcher Lundquist and her colleagues studied the relationship between delayed gratification and consumption of food.
The New Jersey Families Study: unlocking the black box

The New Jersey Families Study: unlocking the black box

Families are children's first teachers and home is their first school. Often we wonder or guess how such teaching is going. The NJFS, performed by the University of Princeton, offers insights.
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