Research method: Observation

  • Created by: samiyahhh
  • Created on: 12-12-18 12:18


OVERTIn overt observations, participants know that they are being watch and their behaviour being recorded which may alter their behaviour. An example of overt observation is an inspector coming into a lesson to observe teacher - student interactions.

STRENGTHAn overt observation allows for informed consent to be gained ensuring that participant know the aim and tasks of the research they are taking part in making the research more ethical. 

LIMITATIONOvert observations often are low ecological validity as behaviour recorded is not representative of everyday behaviour as participants are not always watched.

  • The participants would know they are being watched, so they may show desired characteristics, because they could have the choice to either please the observer or displease the observer. 

COVERTIn covert observations, participants are not aware of being observed. One way mirrors can be used to prevent participants being aware of observation taking place, but this can raise ethical concerns. For example, observing how children play through a one - way mirror. 

STRENGTH: Usually carried out in a natural environment, so participants are often not aware of being observed so likely to behave naturally, which means that the findings will have high ecological validity.

  • Participants are likely to recreate the behaviour, so this would have a high predictive validity. 

LIMITATION: Being covert can lead to deception and invasion of privacy as the participants are unaware they are being watched and behaviour recorded.

STRUCTURED: In a structured observation some variables are controlled by the researcher and are usually carried out in a lab (artificial) environment, this is often done when it would be difficult to observe the behaviour in the natural environment. This type of observation can be both overt and covert. 

 STRENGTH: Structured observation enables behaviour to be watched in a controlled…


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