Naturalistic observation is a versatile method for collecting research in the social and behavioral sciences. Naturalistic observation essentially entails collecting data from its naturally occurring contexts. In other words, naturalistic observation involves observing environments in order to answer one’s research questions. This approach, although potentially costly if one’s observation site is far from home, can save time and money in some cases. At the same time, this qualitative approach poses ethical challenges (e.g., about its potentially obtrusive nature). The growth of mobile technologies and the Internet has increased the accessibility and usefulness of naturalistic observation. This entry provides an examination of naturalistic observation in an effort to uncover the versatility and utility of this type of research approach.
Naturalistic observation refers ...
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