Research Methods - Observation

  • Created by: Emily
  • Created on: 02-05-12 20:07


Non-Participant Observation. (overt and covert)

The researcher observes the sample but does not interact with them.


Quicker and simpler. We can use a more representative sample which means better generalisations can be made. Non-P observation is less risky and more detached. As the researcher is not involved, there will be less influence on the behaviour of the sample and the researcher is less likely to "Go native".

It is useful for short term observations.

It is useful in a covert observation to reach difficult groups which may be otherwise hard to get into. In an overt observation, it is useful to use more aids for recording.


The Hawthorne effect can occur in an overt observation, the group may not act naturally knowing that there is a stranger or outsider present.

Observations are time consuming and expensive.

We cannot ask further questions, so cannot discover meanings behind actions.

Ethical Issues

Deception - there will be "spying" without consent in a covert observation

Confidentiality - We cannot use real names or photos, the group's identity must be protected.


Positivists :)

Pre-coded observational categories and quantitative data means that a cause and effect can be established. 

Interpretivists :(

This method imposes on the researcher's view of reality and so risks producing invalid data.

Researchers are likely to put their own subjective interpretations on events.

Participant Observation

The researcher is involved in the activities of the group


Participant observation gives an…


No comments have yet been made