Longitudinal vs. Cross-Sectional Research in the Study of Children at Risk for Psychopathology

  • Norman Garmezy
  • Vernon T. Devine


In the closing pages of his classic monograph on a Survey of Objective Studies of Psychoanalytic Concepts, written more than 30 years ago, Robert R. Sears (1943) sought an answer to the critical question of what direction future research should take to structure a science of personality — a task Freud had set for psychoanalysis, but with empirical roots that Sears had found wanting. He urged that a broad data structure would be needed, based on a triumvirate of forces that he identified as growth, learning, and the social milieu. Learning, he indicated, would facilitate an understanding of motivational processes, and the acquisition of habit structures of coping and defense that could serve the purposes of adaptation and of maladaptation as well. The social milieu, he noted, contributed heavily to the motivational and trait characteristics of the individual; thus, a sampling of diverse social settings, through the medium of cross-cultural comparisons of personality development, would provide evidence of the role played by different cultural and learning contexts on basic personality structure.


Foster Child Social Milieu Risk Research Behavioral Consistency Longitudinal Method 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Norman Garmezy
    • 1
  • Vernon T. Devine
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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