Observations Notes - AS OCR Psychology Unit 1

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Psychology Notes Observations
Strengths and Weaknesses of Observational Method
Observations give a different take on behaviour e.g. what people say they do is different to
what they actually do
A way of conducting preliminary investigations to produce hypotheses for future research
Allows spontaneous/unexpected behaviour to be captured
Observers see what they expect to see (observer bias)
Poorly designed checklist sheets may lead to low reliability
Observations do not provide insight to thoughts and feelings of participants
Types of Observation
Overt ­ When the participants are aware they are being observed
No ethical issues regarding deception, invasion of privacy etc.
Participants may respond to demand characteristics/social desirability bias
Covert ­ When the participants do not know they are being observed
No response to demand characteristics/social desirability bias
Many ethical issues regarding deception, invasion of privacy etc. ­ debriefing may
counter the problem
Participant Observation ­ When the observer is a part of the social setting
Likely to provide insight into the behaviours
May reduce objectivity of the observer ­ e.g. the observer may make inferences about
behaviours ­ They should ONLY note explicit behaviours
NonParticipant Observation ­ When the observer is not a part of the social setting
Increases objectivity of the observer
No insight to behaviours is provided
Naturalistic Observation ­ When the observation occurs in a completely natural situation
High in ecological validity
Extraneous variables may confound the observation
Controlled Observation ­ When the observation has variables controlled by the observer
Extraneous variables are controlled for
Low in ecological validity
Structured Observation ­ When the observer has a checklist that is used to record specific
behaviours also known as a coding system.
· Should be objective, have no overlapping categories and cover all possible, relevant
behaviours
Enables observations to be made in a way so that no important information is missed

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Some categories may not cover all possibilities or behaviours are recorded incorrectly
(in wrong categories)
Unstructured Observation ­ Where the observer records all relevant behaviours without a
system
All possibilities of behaviours are covered as there is no restrictions
The observations may be biased as the observer will record the most
eyecatching/visible behaviours which may not necessarily be the most important ­
DIFFERENT TO OBSERVER BIAS
How to Record Behaviours
Event Sampling ­ When the observer records each time a particular behaviour occurs
Useful when…read more

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