Observations

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  • Observations
    • Observational techniques: a way of seeing or listening to what people do without having to ask them. Often used to asses the DV
      • S: can capture unexpected behaviour: give insight into spontaneous behaviour
      • L: risk of observer bias: researchers interpretation may be effected by expectations
    • Types of observations
      • Naturalistic: takes place where the target behaviour would normally occur
        • S; high external validity: behaviour is more likely to be spontaneous, making it more generalisable
        • L: low control: there may be uncontrolled like EVs which make it more difficult to detect patterns
      • Controlled: some control/manipulation of variables including control of EVs
        • S: can be replicated: this is due to more standardised which means findings can be checked and retested
        • L: low external validity: behaviour may be influenced by the setting which means results cant be generalised
      • Covert: Pp are unaware they are being studied.
        • S: demand characteristics may be reduced: Pp do not know they are being watched so they will act naturally, increasing validity
        • L: ethically questionable: people may not want their behaviour recorded and this affects privacy rights
      • Overt: Pp are aware they are being studied
        • S: more ethically acceptable: as people studied have given consent and have the right to withdraw
        • L: demand characteristics: knowledge of being studied influences behaviour and reduces validity
      • Participant: researcher becomes part of the group they are studying
        • S: leads to greater insight: researcher experiences the same situation as Pp and enhances validity
        • L: possible loss of objectivity: researcher may identify too strongly with those they are studying (going native) which threatens validity
      • Non-participant: researcher is sperate from the group they are studing
        • S: more objective: there is less chance for bias which increases validity
        • L: loss of insight: researcher may be too far removed from the study and reduce validty
    • Observational design
      • Behavioural categories: target behave observed should be broken up into a set of observable categories
        • L: difficult to make clear and unambiguous: categories should not overlap and should be clear, which is not always possible (e.g. smiling and grinning would be the same)
        • L: dustbin categories: 'dumped' behaviours go unrecorded when not put into set lists
      • Time sampling: observations are made at regular intervals.
        • S: reduces the number of observations: rather than recording everything that is seen, making them structured and systematic
        • L: may be unrepresentative: may miss out important details on the time scale
      • Event sampling: target behaviour/ event recorded when completed
        • S: may record infrequent behaviour: researcher will 'pick up' behaviour that do not occur at regular intervals
        • L: complex behaviour oversimplified: if event is too complex then details may go unrecorded affecting validity

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