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Observations refer to watching and recording the occurrence of specific behaviors during an episode of interest. The observational method can be employed in the laboratory as well as a wide variety of other settings to obtain a detailed picture of how behavior unfolds. This entry discusses types of observational design, methods for collecting observations, and potential pitfalls that may be encountered.

Types of Observational Designs

There are two types of observational design: naturalistic and laboratory observations. Naturalistic observations entail watching and recording behaviors in everyday environments such as animal colonies, playgrounds, classrooms, and retail settings. The main advantage of naturalistic observation is that it affords researchers the opportunity to study the behavior of animals and people in their natural settings. Disadvantages associated with naturalistic observations are lack ...

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