Observations

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Covert observation
Participants do not know that they are being observed. Behaviour is more natural therefore, but there are ethical problems with this method.
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Overt observation
Participants are aware that their behaviour is being observed. Informed consent can therefore be given, but participants may alter their behaviour as a result of being observed.
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Structured observation
These are carried out in an environment over which the experimenter has some control, such as a laboratory, perhaps using a one-way screen. They are more reliable than naturalistic observations as they are replicable.
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Participant observation
The researcher takes an active role in the situation being observed. They therefore get to observe at close quarters, but may influence the participants' behaviour and so reduce validity.
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Non-participant observation
The researcher observes without taking part in the activity. Their presence may still cause changes in the participants' behaviour. However, the researcher can concentrate on recording data.
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Naturalistic observation
Observing the behaviour of participants in their own, natural environment, which has not been created by the researcher.
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Inter-rater reliability
Using more than one observer to reduce the possibility that information has been incorrectly coded or information missed. The observers' data should broadly agree.
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Card 2

Front

Overt observation

Back

Participants are aware that their behaviour is being observed. Informed consent can therefore be given, but participants may alter their behaviour as a result of being observed.

Card 3

Front

Structured observation

Back

Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4

Front

Participant observation

Back

Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5

Front

Non-participant observation

Back

Preview of the front of card 5
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