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Nov 8

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Anna Nagy

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Observing Behavior
Non-experimental research = behavior observed/ measured
-Many different methods used:
1. Naturalistic Observation (field work/ field observations)
Researcher makes observations in a natural setting, over a period of time, using a variety
of techniques to collect information
Observations & descriptions should be objective
Used to describe and understand how people or animals in a social or cultural setting live,
work, and experience
Ethical Problems:
Misrepresentation/ sharing of observations, are we doing harm to the people being
observed by exposing their behavior? Consult ethics committee about how the
observations are to be shared/ represented
The setting:
- Usually qualitative data collected
- Researcher must interpret what occurred
- Generate hypotheses that help explain the data
- Final report of results organized around a structure developed by the researcher
- Nonparticipant observer does not become an active part of the setting (outside)
- Participant observer assumes an active role (insider)
* Problem= should we interact? Does interaction affect objectivity?
- Concealed observation may be preferable to minimize reactivity
- Non-concealed observation may be preferable from an ethical viewpoint
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Defining the scope of the observation
Limits of n aturalistic o b servatio n s
- Can n o t b e u sed to stu d y all is s ues
- Les s u seful when stu d yin g well-defined hy p o theses u n d er pre cisely spe cific conditio
unles s trying to g o b a c k an d find o u t small d etails that may h ave led to different
co n clusio n s
- Field rese a rch is difficult to d o (ti me co n sumin g)
- A n egative c a se analysis may b e n e c e s s ary if we h ave o b servatio n s that d o n o t fit w
what we were ex p e c tin g (r e a s s es s ment)
2. Systematic Observation = careful observation of one/more specific behaviors in a particular
Research interested in only a few very specific behaviors
Observations are quantifiable
Researcher has often developed prior hypotheses
Coding systems
- Simplicity
- Categorize specific behaviors that we are interested in
-Developed for particular study or may use validated systems done in past research
Methodological issues
e. g videotapin g b ehavior?
Re a c tivity
One-way mirror for o b servatio n s? Is it ethic al th o u g h sinc e they are n o t aware of it?
Reli ability
Inter-r ater reliability n o t o b tained e a sily
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