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Longitudinal and snapshot

Longitudinal and snapshot

A snap shot study is a study carried out over a very short period of time such as hours and days.

In comparison, a longitudinal study is carried out over a longer period of time such as weeks, months or years.

Snap shot studies are obviously quicker and cheaper to carry out than longitudinal approaches and rarely suffer from attrition. However, they only provide us with a ?snapshot? of human behaviour and experience and therefore are not so useful when investigating development.

A longitudinal approach is where a group of participants is followed up after a period of time.

Longitudinal studies are often found in the area of developmental psychology because they are ways of studying change over time. The longitudinal approach may suffer from attrition which refers to the loss of participants from a study. Reasons for attrition might include participants no longer wanting to take part in the study, moving away or losing contact. When attrition occurs psychologists have to question the representativeness of the remaining sample.

It is important to recognise that longitudinal studies and snapshot studies represent an approach and not an actual method of collecting data.