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Observation

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❶There is no experiment conducted and no variables are manipulated.

Controlled Observation

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Naturalistic Observation

The disadvantages of this method are that the observations usually take place on a small scale with a small sample size and the participants may not truly be representative of the larger population. Naturalistic observations may also more difficult to replicate. A researcher may use naturalistic observation to study the behaviors and interactions of pre-school aged children on a playground at recess.

Participant Observation - In participant observation, the researcher intervenes in the environment in some manner. This is done to be able to observe behaviors that may otherwise not be accessible to the researcher. The observations can either be covert or overt.

If they are covert, the researcher is under cover and his or her real identity and purpose are concealed. If the observations are overt, the researcher will reveal his or her real identity and intent and will ask permission to make the observations. The advantage is that it provides a deeper insight into the participants. A researcher may want to study the behaviors and habits of a particular religious group and joins the group in order to gain access.

Controlled Observation — This type of observational method is carried out under controlled, arranged conditions, often in a laboratory setting. Controlled observations are overt as the researcher will explain the purpose of the research and the participants know they are being observed. Each test subject is exposed to the same situation in order to examine differences between individual reactions.

The advantage of this type of method is that the study is reproducible and therefore, can be tested for reliability. These studies are often fairly quick and can accommodate a larger sample size as well. The data is often coded to be numerical in nature which allows for less time consuming data analysis. The disadvantage is that this type of method may have less validity due to the Hawthorne effect, which states that participants may behave differently when they know that they are being watched.

A researcher is conducting sleep studies on trauma victims to examine the impact of traumatic events on sleep patterns and habits. Regardless of the type of observational method used, the researcher must have a plan for recording data. The types of data collected may take many forms:. The researcher must also determine the method of sampling and when to record data. In event sampling, the researcher determines which behaviors are of interest and records all occurrences, ignoring all other behavior.

With time sampling , the observations take place for pre-determined periods of time such as 1 hour per day. Finally, instantaneous sampling determines, in advance, particular times instances when observations will be made. The types of data recording methods and sampling methods are important to the reproducibility of the study. Observation Methods - Provides an overview of 3 types of observational research methods and includes a discussion of data recording. The 3 Basic Types of Descriptive Research Methods — Describes the 3 basic types of descriptive research methods — observational, case study, and survey methods.

There are several disadvantages and limitations to naturalistic observation. One is that it does not allow researchers to make causal statements about the situations they observe. For this reason, behavior can only be described, not explained. Furthermore, there are ethical concerns related to observing individuals without their consent.

One way to avoid this problem is to debrief subjects after observing them, and ask for their consent then, before using the observations for research. This tactic would also help avoid one of the pitfalls of overt observation, in which observers ask for consent before observation has started.

In these situations, when subjects know they are being watched, they may alter their behavior in an attempt to make themselves look more admirable. Naturalistic observation may also be time consuming, sometimes requiring dozens of observation sessions lasting large parts of each day to collect information on the behavior of interest.

Most psychological research uses observation with some component of intervention. Reasons for intervening include: Participate observation is characterized as either undisguised or disguised. In undisguised observation, the observed individuals know that the observer is present for the purpose of collecting info about their behavior. This technique is often used to understand the culture and behavior of groups or individuals.

This technique is often used when researchers believe that the individuals under observation may change their behavior as a result of knowing that they were being recorded. There are several benefits to doing participant observation. Firstly, participant research allows researchers to observe behaviors and situations that are not usually open to scientific observation. Furthermore, participant research allows the observer to have the same experiences as the people under study, which may provide important insights and understandings of individuals or groups.

Firstly, participant observers may sometimes lose their objectivity as a result of participating in the study. This usually happens when observers begin to identify with the individuals under study, and this threat generally increases as the degree of observer participation increases. Secondly, participant observers may unduly influence the individuals whose behavior they are recording. This effect is not easily assessed, however, it generally more prominent when the group being observed is small, or if the activities of the participant observer are prominent.

Lastly, disguised observation raises some ethical issues regarding obtaining information without respondents' knowledge. The dilemma here is of course that if informed consent were obtained from participants, respondents would likely choose not to cooperate. Structured observation represents a compromise between the passive nonintervention of naturalistic observation, and the systematic manipulation of independent variables and precise control characterized by lab experiments.

Structured observation is frequently employed by clinical and developmental psychologists, or for studying animals in the wild. One benefit to structured observation is that it allows researchers to record behaviors that may be difficult to observe using naturalistic observation, but that are more natural than the artificial conditions imposed in a lab.

However, problems in interpreting structured observations can occur when the same observation procedures are not followed across observations or observers, or when important variables are not controlled across observations.

In field experiments, researchers manipulate one or more independent variables in a natural setting to determine the effect on behavior. This method represents the most extreme form of intervention in observational methods, and researchers are able to exert more control over the study and its participants.

However, confounding may decrease internal validity of a study, and ethical issues may arise in studies involving high-risk.

Indirect observation can be used if one wishes to be entirely unobtrusive in their observation method. This can often be useful if a researcher is approaching a particularly sensitive topic that would be likely to elicit reactivity in the subject.

There are also potential ethical concerns that are avoided by using the indirect observational method. These remnants could be any number of items, and are usually divided into two main categories. One primary approach involves writing fieldnotes. There are several guides for learning how to prepare fieldnotes.

Immersion and prolonged involvement in a setting can lead to the development of rapport and foster free and open speaking with members. Observation is an essential part of gaining an understanding of naturalistic settings and its members' ways of seeing. Adler, PA and Adler, P.

Membership roles in field research. Handbook of Qualitative Research pp. Research Methods in Cultural Anthropology. Doing Qualitative Research 2nd Edition.

Ethnography Step by Step 2nd Edition. A Methodology for Human Studies. Ethnography Principles in Practice 2nd Edition. Qualitative Communication Research Methods. Standing in the shoes of others? Click here to return to Common Methods.

Experimental Research Methods

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Observation, as the name implies, is a way of collecting data through observing. Observation data collection method is classified as a participatory study, because the researcher has to immerse herself in the setting where her respondents are, while taking notes and/or recording.

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Observational Research. What is Observational Research? Observational research (or field research) is a type of correlational (i.e., non-experimental) research in which a researcher observes ongoing behavior. There are a variety of types of observational research, each of which has both strengths and weaknesses.

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Controlled observations are usually overt as the researcher explains the research aim to the group, so the participants know they are being observed. Controlled observations are also usually non-participant as the researcher avoids any direct contact with the group, keeping a distance (e.g. observing behind a two-way mirror).Author: Saul Mcleod. Observational Method. This module describes the observational method of descriptive research and discusses its uses. Learning Objectives: Define observational research. List reasons researchers use the observational method; List and describe the three basics types of observational methods and provide examples.

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Observation is a systematic data collection approach. Researchers use all of their senses to examine people in natural settings or naturally occurring situations. () and for a discussion of participant observation as a methodology see Jorgensen (). When might observation be used? Research Methods in Cultural Anthropology. (pp. In the current research environment, its status seems to have changed, leading Adler and Adler to question whether observation is a research method “in its own right” or “a stepchild to its more widely recognized.