Observational Techniques

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The 3 most important are controlled, naturalistic and participant.


The researcher exercise control over the environment in which the observations are made.


  • Cause and effect can be established
  • If the situation is well controlled there is less risk of extraneous variables influencing participants behaviour
  • More complete information is obtained than conventional experimental studies in which participants are only required to produce limited  responses


  • Carrying out studies in artificial situations reduces ecological validity and can influence behaviour
  • The artificial situation may make it hard to generalise findings
  • Problems such as investigator effects and demand characteristics


An unobtrusive observational study conducted in a natural setting.


  • If the participants are…


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