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Canada (158,032)
Psychology (9,545)
PSYB01H3 (585)
Anna Nagy (283)
Chapter 6


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University of Toronto Scarborough
Anna Nagy

CHAPTER 6 – OBSERVATIONAL METHODS - Observing behavior in natural settings and examining existing records of behavior (ex. Census data/new articles) - Methods would be explained in quantitative and qualitative perspective Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches - Exploring and understand behavior involves scientific method: developing theories; generating hypotheses; design experiments/nor-experiments; operationally defining variables; collecting data; and analyzing w/ stats (known as empirical or quantitative approach)  Requires statistical analysis - Qualitative approach: aka interpretive; offers deep description of ppl’s behavior in natural settings, ppl describing their world in their own words, collecting in-depth info on individuals or w/in small limited settings, and conclusions that are based on interpretations drawn by investigator  Variety of research paradigms and set of rules  Interpretation ppl’s experiences w/in a specific context - A through understanding of behavior will likely require both qualitative and quantitative ways of knowing Naturalistic Observation - Naturalistic observation: makes observation in particular natural setting (field)  Observations are made over extended period of time using info- collection techniques  Used in anthropology, animal behavior, social sciences, and all type of social and organizational setting  Used w/ a qualitative approach but also quantitative purpose (ex. Create hypotheses) - Sylvia Scribner – practical thinking  Studied ways that ppl in variety of occupations make decisions and solve problems - Researchers use naturalistic observation when he/she wants to describe and understand how ppl in a social or cultural setting live, work, and experience the setting o Ex. Want to know about:  Hotels + social settings = visit more then 1 hotel for a period of time  How ppl persuade/influence others = get a job as a salesperson  The process of coping after detection of cancer = involve with cancer support Description and Interpretation of Data - Naturalistic observation demands that researchers immerse themselves in the situation - Observe everything (setting, patterns, reactions) w/ hypothesis in mind is to provide a complete and accurate picture – must keep detailed field notes - Use different techniques to gather info o Observing ppl and events o Interviewing key ‘informants’ o Talk to ppl about their lives o Example documents produced in setting (newspaper, newsletter, memos) o Use of audio and video recording - Goals o Describe the setting, events, and persons observed o Interpret what was observed  Common themes (phenomeloy) or developing a theory w/ hypothesis for future work (grounded theory) o The chronological orders of events (narrative approach)/organized around the theory developing by the researcher (grounded theory) o Examples are event are used to support researcher’s interpretation – support validity is needed - Qualitative description are closer to the phenomenon being studied compared to statistical representation - Quantitative data can also be gathered such as income, family size, education level … - Can also turn naturalistic observation into numerical data using a coding system Issues in Naturalistic Observation Participations and Concealment - Issue facing researchers are: should they be a participants/non participant in social setting and whether to conceal purpose of experiment to others - Participant observation: allows researchr to observe the setting from the inside, he/she may be able to experience events in the same way as natural participants o Problems  Observer may lose the objectivity necessary to conduct scientific observation  Remaning object may be difficult when researcher already belongs to the group being studied (ex. Researcher who belongs to city’s Pride Society and is undertaking a study of the group)  Hence observation may be biased and conclusions will lack objectivity - Concealed Observation o Is preferred b/c presence of observer may influence and alter the behavior of those being observed o Concealed observation is less reactive than non concealed – ppl are not aware of behaviors are being observed and recorded o Ethical issues needs to be considered o Ppl can forget about cameras and spontaneously reveal many private aspect of their lives o Need to consider ethical concern, nature of particular group, setting behind studies - There are degrees of participation and concealment - Researchers Use naturalistic observation to study behavior must carefully determine what their role in the setting is - Exempt research is observation in the public places when anonymity is not threatened Defining the Scope of the Observation - It is not possible for a researcher to be able to study everything about a setting o Settings and the questions one asks about it are so complex o Must limit scope of observation to relevant central issue Limits of Naturalistic Observations - Can’t be used to study all issues or phenomena - Qualitative perspective – useful when investigating complex social settings to understand the setting and develop theories - Quantitative perspective – useful to gather data in real life setting + generate hypotheses for later experiment - Inability to control setting - Data collected in field can’t be schedule at convenient time + place - Very time consuming - Every changing patterns of events – must record important + unimportant - Must search through all data to find common theme (interpretation) SYSTEMATIC OBSERVATIONS - Systematic observation: careful observation of one or more specific behaviours in a particular setting - Less global than naturalistic observation research - Used more often in quantitative perspective - Created hypothesis before study - Focus on few very specific behaviours - Ex. Young children develop empathy for others that are experiencing pain/sadness o Video recorded 18 – 36 months children in a room playing with an experimental who pretends to hurt themselves o Observe videotable and code child’s behavior during 30 sec experimenter experience emotions o Coding System:  Prosocial act
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