The exemplar methodology: An approach to studying the leading edge of development
Teachers College, 511 Department of Educational Psychology, Ball State University, 2000 West University Avenue, Muncie, IN, 47306, USA
Psychology of Well-Being: Theory, Research and Practice 2012, 2:5 doi:10.1186/2211-1522-2-5Published: 16 October 2012
The exemplar methodology is a useful, but to date underutilized, approach to studying developmental phenomena. It features a unique sample selection approach whereby individuals, entities, or programs that exemplify the construct of interest in a highly developed manner form the study sample. Studying a sample of highly developed individuals yields an important view of the leading edge of development that cannot be gleaned using other methodologies. A picture of the full range of development requires not only an understanding of typical and deficient growth, as provided by existing methodologies, but also of complete or nearly complete development, as provided by the exemplar methodology. Accordingly, the exemplar methodology represents a critical tool for developmental psychologists. In spite of this, because it has rarely been written about, the exemplar methodology has only been used to study a relatively narrow range of developmental constructs. Therefore, the present article defines the exemplar methodology, addresses key conceptual issues, and briefly outlines steps to utilizing the approach.