Observations

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  • Observations
    • Structured
      • EG Mary Ainsworth in her 'Strange Situation' to see what the child did in reaction to a stranger with the mother both in and out of the room, with or without the stranger being present
      • easily replicated = easy to test for reliability
      • quantitative data obtained = less time consuming compared to naturalistic observation eg use of tally charts
      • quick to conduct means many can take place in a short amount of time = large sample can be obtained = findings representative and easily generalisable to a large population
      • can lack validity due to demand characteristics - know theyre being watched, may act differently to suit the aims of the study
      • do not give qual data such as what ppts are thinking/feeling when they act in a particular way = lacks depth and detail behind behaviour
      • observer bias - looking for something particular = see what they expect or want to
    • Unstructured
      • ecological validity because they are in natural environment of the ppts so results are more likely to be reliable
      • gather in-depth and detailed qual data and is still rich when using quant data and therefore are valid
      • possible the the observer is subjective because they choose what to observe and record - may be biased
      • data and findings are not generalisable to all people at all times - study is only a cross-section of one moment in time
    • Participant
      • EG to study gang culture one may infiltrate the gang itself in order to find out how the group works
      • observers do not affect what is happening as they are involved = ecological validity, environment natural
      • being involved means that they can often bring additional data as well as being able to obtain more data as they have greater access to a group
        • no problem gaining access to ppts which can be an ethical problem sometimes
      • may miss information when not there, cannot be there all the time - non part observers can observe all the time also issue of subjectivity
      • not possible to gain consent as this may affect behaviour that is being observed - ethical issues
      • hard to replicate as the observer is in a unique situation = low reliability
    • Non-Participant
      • EG sitting at the back of a classroom to observe the effects of types of learning on the attentiveness of a class
      • observer noticeable = affect behaviour = results lack validity as natural behaviour
      • observer may lack background info and thus understanding of behaviour = conclusions may not be realistic and valid
      • observer is objective and impartial focusing purely on observing
      • more efficient at recording notes and data, chances of missed info are reduced
      • can more easily carry out time sampling and tallying = more accurate quant data = more reliable
    • Covert
      • high in ecological validity as ppts behaviour will be normal
      • allow you to dig deeper into the groups behaviour = realistic and valid data
      • unethical as no informed consent so if not carried out in a public place they go against guidelines
      • ppts cannot help the observer to get best results eg best place to observe from = less practical
    • Overt
      • informed consent can be gained = more ethical as have right to withdraw
      • can get help from ppts eg getting best vantage point = more practical
      • ppts may not act in a natural way = low validity
      • overt observers may be watched by ppts and difficult to carry out obsrvation to get realistic and valid behavioural results

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