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  • 00:09

    [Observational Methods]

  • 00:11

    HARRIET CARMICHAEL: One of the ways we find outabout people in everyday life is just to spend time with them,watch them, and see what they do.And this is called naturalistic observation.

  • 00:23

    DR. STEVEN TAYLOR: Naturalistic observation simplymeans researchers watching and recordinghow people behave in everyday, real-life situations.[Dr. Steven Taylor] But there are different ways of doingthis, and it's important to check out that you know whatthey are.[participant observation] Participant observation meansresearchers interact directly with the peoplethey're studying, while in non-participant observation,

  • 00:45

    DR. STEVEN TAYLOR [continued]: they're simply watching. [non-participant observation]The observation can be overt, wherepeople are aware they're being studied, or covert, wherethe observation is undercover.And it can be structured, where the researcher is lookingfor the incidence of specific things, or unstructured,where there's no specific agenda.

  • 01:05

    HARRIET CARMICHAEL: And it's really importanthere not to confuse naturalistic observationwith field experiments.[Harriet Carmichael] In field experiments,researchers manipulate a situation to test the effectof one variable on another, whereas in naturalisticobservation, there's no manipulation.[naturalistic observation] Once the observation has started,

  • 01:26

    HARRIET CARMICHAEL [continued]: the researcher just watches how people normally behave.

  • 01:29

    DR. STEVEN TAYLOR: There's a numberof good examples of naturalistic observationyou can check out and use.For example, Rosenhan and confederatesfaking symptoms of mental illnessto study life inside psychiatric hospitals.[Rosenhan (1973): On Being Sane in Insane Places] Hartup'sstudy of aggressive episodes in early childhood.[Hartup (1974): Aggression in Childhood]Or LaFrance and Mayo's study of subcultural differences

  • 01:49

    DR. STEVEN TAYLOR [continued]: in gaze direction in face-to-face interaction.[LaFrance and Mayo (1999): Racial Differences in GazeBehavior]

  • 01:53

    HARRIET CARMICHAEL: There are a numberof reasons why psychologists use naturalistic observation.[Why psychologists use naturalistic observation]First, it allows them to study things which just could notbe manipulated in a laboratory setting, such as patient lifein mental hospitals, or aggressionbetween small children. [widens scope of research]Second, it can be used to test the external validity

  • 02:16

    HARRIET CARMICHAEL [continued]: of other research findings. [testing external validity]Are these results found in real-life settings?Third, naturalistic observation gives the researchecological validity. [ecological validity]It explores how people actually behave in real situations.

  • 02:32

    DR. STEVEN TAYLOR: But naturalistic observationcomes with a range of problems.

  • 02:37

    HARRIET CARMICHAEL: Difficulties are problemsin doing observational research. [difficulties] For example,getting access to the group you want to research,maintaining relationships, remembering and recordinginformation, and over-identifyingwith the people you're observing.

  • 02:56

    DR. STEVEN TAYLOR: I've done a lot of observation research,and these are real problems.But they can be managed and overcome in principle,and they don't necessarily compromise the findings.Limitations, on the other hand, are built into the method.[limitations] There's nothing you can do about them.They're just there.First, the researcher has little or no control over

  • 03:16

    DR. STEVEN TAYLOR [continued]: the situation. [lack of control] Second,there may be observer bias. [observer bias]It's the researcher's view of the behavior.Using more than one observer could mitigate, but notsolve this limitation.Third, there may be demand characteristics,where people change their behavior because they're beingobserved. [demand characteristics]

  • 03:36

    DR. STEVEN TAYLOR [continued]: Naturalistic observation research also tends to lackreliability as repeated observations under exactlythe same conditions cannot be made.[lack reliability] It's also very time consuming,and can be costly. [time and cost]

Video Info

Series Name: Non-Experimental Research Methods

Publisher: ShortCutstv

Publication Year: 2017

Video Type:Tutorial

Methods: Observational research, Qualitative data collection

Keywords: ecology; naturalism; practices, strategies, and tools

Segment Info

Segment Num.: 1

Persons Discussed:

Events Discussed:



Observational research is done through naturalistic observation, watching and recording how people behave in everyday situations.

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Observational Methods

Observational research is done through naturalistic observation, watching and recording how people behave in everyday situations.

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