General ObservationalApproaches• Qualitative approaches– Emphasizes the nonnumerical aspects of the thing beingobserved.– Usually consists of descriptive paragraphs.– Statistical analysis of data in this form is not possible.– Examples• Diaries• Film documentaries• Written summaries of main themes and/or styles observed
Naturalistic Observation• The researcher observes and recordsbehavior in its natural setting over a periodof time in a descriptive format.– A qualitative research method if the data is notconverted to numbers, if numbers are recordedit can become a quantitative method.• Observations are interpreted and theseinterpretations are confirmed ordisconfirmed by multiple observations.
Issues in NaturalisticObservation• Participation– Does the observer participate in the setting that is beingobserved and will participation disrupt the settingmaking the observations less accurate?• Concealment– The purpose of the observation and/or the observer ishidden making observations more accurate butpotentially unethical.• Scope of observation– Not everything can be observed so the scope ofobservation is limited by the experimenter and thiscould bias the results.
Systematic Observation• Careful observation of specific behaviors inspecific settings using structured,quantifiable methods.• Observations are not described in paragraphform but numerically coded on speciallydesigned data sheets.• Systematic observation results can beanalyzed statistically.
Methodological Issues• Systematic observations can be aided with the use oftechnical equipment (video tape, computers, clocks,etc.)• The use of systematic observational methods mayinfluence what is being recorded (reactivity problem).• Reliability of observations can be measured by usingmore than one observer or recording method.• When all behavior cannot be measured, samplingmethods are used to get accurate estimates of totalbehavior.
Case Studies• Case studies are usually extensive descriptions ofone individual over a period of time.• Case studies are one form of naturalisticobservation research• Case studies are conducted when an individual isunusual, has a rare disorder or noteworthycondition.• Case studies provide valuable information that isnot available in other forms of research.
Archival Research• Archival research uses data that was previouslycollected and compiled (usually for other reasons)to answer new questions.• Examples of archival research– Using US census records to study immigration trends.– Using college survey results to predict employmenttrends– A Content Analysis is using archival data in existingdocuments to answer a research question.
Class Discussion Questions• What style of research do you think wouldbe easier, quantitative or qualitative?– Why do you think this?• When doing archival research, do you thinkinformed consent is needed?– Who should give informed consent and why?