Observational methods

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  • Created by: chloe5
  • Created on: 01-04-15 20:06

Naturalistic

Observing participants in their natural environments and not manipulating any variables

Strengths:

  • Realistic results because it is all natural
  • No demand characteristics
  • Valid due to natural behaviour

 

Weaknesses:

  • Difficult to reproduce because conditions can change each time
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Controlled

Observation where researchers control some variables

Strengths:

  • Easier to reproduce
  • Controlled variables make it more reliable
  • Eliminate confounding variables

 

Weaknesses:

  • Could lead to demand characteristics
  • Manipulation of variables could be unethical
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Participant

An observation where the observer also takes part in the activity being studied

Strengths:

  • Gives more insight on behaviour, to the observer 

 

Weaknesses:

  • Observer may lose some objectivity
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Structured

Involves the observer using a form of coding scheme to note down behaviour

Strengths:

  • Simple and easy to do
  • Provides quantitative data which can be analysed statistically

 

Weaknesses:

  • Gives restricted view on what is actually happening
  • Not in-depth
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Unstructured

Simply involves the researcher writing down what they see

Strengths:

  • Provides rich qualitative data
  • Very in-depth
  • Higher in validity

 

Weaknesses:

  • Difficult without recording equipment
  • The researcher may only write down eye-catching behaviour
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Covert

Type of observation where participants do not know they are being studied

Strengths:

  • Less likely to get demand characteristics

 

Weaknesses:

  • Could be ethical issues
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Overt

Participants are fully aware that they are being studied

Strengths:

  • Less ethical issues

 

Weaknesses:

  • Lower in validity
  • Participants may lie if they know they are being observed (Demand characteristics)
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