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Naturalistic Observation. A Brief Introduction The main purpose of observational methods is description. – We simply observe behaviors and seek for patterns.

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Presentation on theme: "Naturalistic Observation. A Brief Introduction The main purpose of observational methods is description. – We simply observe behaviors and seek for patterns."— Presentation transcript:

1 Naturalistic Observation

2 A Brief Introduction The main purpose of observational methods is description. – We simply observe behaviors and seek for patterns in these behaviors. – That is, we try to develop a theory to explain behavior Etiology: A study of documentation of animal and human behaviors –

3 A Brief Introduction Naturalistic observation can be used in two major ways – Observation with an intervention (a manipulation) – Observation without an intervention (without a manipulation)

4 Observation With an Intervention We use that method when – We have an a priori idea of what to observe, and – The event that we interested in is rare – That kind of observations is a kind of field experiments qZs qZs

5 Observation Without an Intervention In such observational studies, the researcher simply watcher what is going on It is a good method when – We do not have an a priori idea of what to observe, and – The event is not rare ZgwI ZgwI

6 Two Major Way to Observe We can conduct observational studies in different ways – Overt vs. Covert observations – Participant vs. non-participant observations

7 Two Major Way to Observe Overt vs. Covert Observations In overt observations, participants are aware of being watched – It is more ethical. We can ask participants for consent – Participants may behave unnaturally In covert observations participants are not aware of being watched – Participants behave more natural – Ethical problems

8 Two Major Way to Observe Participant vs. Non-Participant Observations In participant observations, researcher participate the interactions between participants – We can get an in-depth picture of behavior – Observer may bias participants’ behaviors In non-participant observations, researcher does not participate the interactions between participants – We can get a more limited picture of behavior – Observer cannot bias participants’ behaviors

9 Two Major Way to Observe Four Combinations of Observational Studies ParticipantNon-Participant Overt Researcher participate in interactions, and participants are aware of being watched Researcher simply observe participants, and participants are aware of being watched Covert Researcher participate in interactions, but participants are not aware of being watched Researcher simply observe participants, but participants are not aware of being watched

10 Four Combinations of Observational Studies Overt-Participant Observations Between 2005 and 2008, Sümer conducted an project on the interaction between mother and child. He simply interested in mother sensitivity and child’s reactions. – For this study, two observers visited homes and observed the interactions between mother and child. They used a specific measurement method “Q-Sort” for their observations. Milligram (1992) investigated how individuals deal with urban life in which unwanted encounters are inevitable. – Researchers took photographs of people in train stations and showed these pictures to commuters. – They asked participants whether they recognized the person in the picture. – By this way, they concluded that the average New York City commuter had 4.5 familiar strangers in his or her life.

11 Four Combinations of Observational Studies Covert-Participant Observations In 1956, Festinger observed a religious cult which believed that a flood would destroy most of North America in late December. – The leader of the cult, Mrs Keetch, asserted that she had contact with aliens from a planet called Clarion. – She devoted herself to spread aliens’ word and convince people to get prepared. – Festinger guessed that this disaster would never happen and he wanted to observe what would happen after the predicted date of disaster (the aftermath of the failed prophecy). He joined the cult with his two colleagues and five hired observers. They encountered several methodological difficulties – First, data recording was a problem. They could not write what they observed when they attended to the cult’s meetings in Mrs Keetch’ house. They could not rely on their memories, so they decided to use bathroom to report whatever they experienced in the meeting. – Second and more serious problem was reactivity. The mere presence of observers as members strengthened the belief that the flood prophecy was correct.

12 Four Combinations of Observational Studies Overt –Non-Participant Observations In Hawthorne experiments, workers were observed in differing work conditions between 1924 and – Studies were conducted in Hawthorne Works (a factory) of Western Electric Company. – These studies are the source of now famous term Hawthorne Effect. In most ethnographical studies, animals are aware of being observed. – Mere-exposure and familiarization is used to observe animals behaviors.

13 Four Combinations of Observational Studies Covert –Non-Participant Observations Graham and Wells (2001) conducted a naturalistic observation study of bar patrons in a Canadian taverns. – They used naturalistic observation and interviews in their research. – In the naturalistic observation portion of their research, 117 aggressive incidents were observed during the 93 nights of the study. – Most of the observation periods were weekend nights between midnight and 2:30 a.m.; the patrons were unaware that research was being conducted. – The researchers documented patterns of aggressive behavior in this particular bar. For example, they found that nearly 75% of the incidents involved males only. Also, moderate or higher levels of physical aggression were observed in 67% of the incidents. About 33% of the incidents occurred outside of the bar’s premises. – Graham and Wells identified several triggers for aggression in bars, including problems with bar staff, rowdy behavior, and interpersonal relationship problems. – Studies such as this might be helpful to bar managers who want to reduce aggressive incidents in their establishments. See

14 The Process of Observational Studies In general, observational studies are consisted of two phases – First Phase: Unstructured Observation – Second phase: Structured Observation

15 The Process of Observational Studies Unstructured Observation Researcher simply observes all behaviors. – S/He takes notes about behavior and possible contextual triggers. – These notes are observer narratives Observer narratives must be as objective as they could be. They are a kind of a operational definition of the observed behavior.

16 The Process of Observational Studies Structured Observation Researcher decide on which behaviors are going to be observed – To observe target behaviors, researcher must choose behavioral units – A behavior unit can be measured as Frequency Duration =i_SS2ebPItg =i_SS2ebPItg

17 Observer Bias No observer is a mechanical tool. – So, every observations are open to biases. Possible Sources of Observer Bias – Selective Attention – Selective Encoding and Retrieval To reduce observer bias – Control observer knowledge – Separate fact from interpretation – Use sampling methods

18 to Reduce Observer Bias Control Observer Knowledge Whenever it is possible, it is good to keep observer uninformed. – This method is called blinding When observers do not know the purpose or hypothesis of the observation, they can not bias their observations – It is sometime hard to keep observers uninformed

19 to Reduce Observer Bias Separate Fact From Interpretation In many cases, observers can confuse interpretations with facts. – Hitting is a fact. Aggressive behavior or aggression is an interpretation of this fact A part of observation form can be allocated for interpretations Fear or excitement is something that we attribted to a certain facial expression

20 to Reduce Observer Bias Use Sampling Methods Bias can be reduced by removing observers’ choices about – Which subject will be observed, or – When subjects will be observed To reduce sampling bias, we can use two methods – Event sampling – Time sampling

21 Sampling Methods Event Sampling A group of event are randomly chosen – It increase the generalizability of observations to different stiuations For observation of driver behaviors – Different traffic lights can be chosen randomly For observation of students behavior in kantin – Different tables can be chosen randomly

22 Sampling Methods Time Sampling The time of observation is randomly chosen – It increase the generalizability of observations to different time periods For observation of driver behaviors – Different periods of day can be chosen randomly For observation of students behavior in kantin – Different periods of conversation can be chosen randomly

23 Observer Reliability To ensure that observer relaibly observe the subject, several methods can be used – Using more than one observer At least, two observer observe the same subject Correlation coefficient assess reliability – r=.70 to.90 is ok – r <.70 = observations are not reliable. PROBLEM – r>.90 = Observations are too similar. PROBLEM – Clarifying behavioral units Behavior units should be clearified before observations Observers may share their experiences after the observation – Using recording techniques Video and voice records can be used to identify – Whether anything missed in the observation – Whether observers reported same behavior in a similar way


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