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soc 232 Feb 13.doc

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University of Saskatchewan
SOC 232
Stuart Leard

Soc 232 1 February 13 2013 Figure 6.1 - Observer doesn’t have to think, automatic response - Social-science psychology - Could tell what types of leaders were emerging - Has to be clear – one or another - Has to be exhausted – all must be used Structured Observation • Model social analysis after natural sciences • Emerged largely in the context of social-psychology • Objectivist ontology to find ways to measure the social world • Explicit Rules for observing, categorizing and recording behaviour. • Direct observation instead of inferences from respondent reports (structured interviews and questionnaires). • Limited access to some social spaces. • Smaller sample sizes. • Structured Observation • Eliminates some problems found in survey research: Soc 232 2 February 13 2013 – Misunderstanding the meaning of the terms used in the survey. – Problems of memory: what was done, where it was done, etc. – Social desirability effect in answering questions. – Threatening or embarrassing questions not answered sincerely. – Gap between stated and actual behaviour. • Other Types of Observation Research • Participant – Qualitative method. – Immersion in a particular social setting for an extended period of time. – To determine meanings that people give to their environment and their behaviour. • Other Types of Observation Research, cont. • Non-participant or ‘unobtrusive’ – Observer does not take part in the activities of the observed group. – Observed group may or may not know that it is being observed. – Process may be structured or unstructured. • Other Types of Observation Research, cont. – Unstructured observation – No rules for observing or recording the observations. – Observer attempts to gather as much detail as possible, make thorough notes and develop a narrative account of the behaviour at a later time. – Most participant observation is unstructured. • Structured Observation Soc 232 3 February 13 2013 • The rules for observation and for recording the data are contained in the observation schedule. • The next slide shows an example of Bales’ observation schedule for comparing small-group leaders and followers: – The actions are observed over a three-minute period. – The action observed every 15 seconds is noted and given a numerical value for the spreadsheet. – The values are tabulated and a score given. – The score is translated back to a description of the person’s leadership style. The Observation Schedule • Recording of incidents – May situate your self in a bar • Time periods – Example: going to a school at morning/lunch/afternoon breaks and observing • Time sampling – Every 15 min for 3 hours • A clear statement of the research problem. • Specifies who is to be observed and which behaviours are to be recorded. • Categories for recording behaviour must be mutually exclusive and exhaustive. – Pilot studies may help develop the categories. – Classification scheme must be clear and easy to use. • Minimal interpretation of behaviour. • Strategies for Observing Behaviour • Recording of incidents Soc 232 4 February 13 2013 – Wait until there is a behaviour of interest: observe bar room behaviour noting each time there is opposite sex, stranger-to-stranger interaction. – Time period – Processes are observed and recorded at a designated period of time (e.g. everyday at lunchtime for two weeks). – Time sampling – Observe the interactions that take place at designated intervals of time (e.g., every 15 minutes for three hours). • Compared to survey research, structured observation offers: – more reliable information about events; – greater precision regarding the duration and frequency of events; – greater accuracy in time-ordering events; – more accurate reconstruction of large-scale social episodes. Reliability – The training of observers is such that each observer keeps observing the same way – Reliability not there – Inter-observer consistency is a concern. – Intra-observer consistency is also an issue. – Training is usually implemented to counter these issues. Validity • Measurement validity can be an issue. – Does the struc
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