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RESEARCH METHODS OBSERVATIONS PSYCHOLOGICAL INVESTIGATIONS G541.

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1 RESEARCH METHODS OBSERVATIONS PSYCHOLOGICAL INVESTIGATIONS G541

2 CHECKLIST: Observations  Identify two general strengths and two weaknesses of observations  Describe what is meant by participant observation  Identify a strength and weakness of participant observations  Describe what is meant by naturalistic observation  Identify a strength and weakness of naturalistic observations  Describe what is meant by controlled observation  Identify a strength and weakness of controlled observations  Describe what is meant by structured observation  Identify a strength and weakness of structured observation  Describe what a coding scheme is  Outline a coding scheme you could use for a given observation  Describe what is meant by time sampling  Identify a strength and weakness of time sampling  Describe what is meant by event sampling

3 Worksheet 1: KEY WORDS  Complete the key terms related to this topic  You can use the resources and internet to help  Each definition should be at least two sentences long  You should use these terms where appropriate in your responses to exam questions ACTIVITY 1

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5 EXAMPLE ESQ: June 2009 Look at me! A group of psychologists are interested in conducting an observation study of people’s behaviour as they walk past a shop window. The psychologists want to see if people pay any attention to their own reflection, and is so, what they do. A.Describe an appropriate procedure that could be used in this study. (6) B.Evaluate the reliability and validity of carrying out the study in this way. (6) C.What is time sampling? (2) D.Describe one strength and one weakness of time sampling if it were to be used in this study. (4) E.Identify one ethical issue in this study. (2) TOTAL: 20 MARKS

6 RESOURCES: Self-Report Internet PowerPoint Exam Style Questions (ESQ)

7 Worksheet 2: Summary of the observational method  Outline key features of the self-report method  Identify ethical issues related to the self-report method  Outline strengths of the self-report method  Outline weaknesses of the self-report method ACTIVITY 2

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9 OBSERVATIONS

10 KEY FEATURES: Observations In an observation, data are collected by someone observing (watching) participants and recording what pts do or say. Sometimes the observer is present and sometimes the observer is hidden behind a one way mirror. Other recording techniques can be used, including video recordings and CCTV footage. Observations may be conducted on their own or they may be conducted as part of an experiment. NB: What identifies an investigation as an experiment is whether it has an IV and DV rather than where it is conducted or the details of the procedure 1.Observations involve the precise measurement of naturally occurring behaviour, the aim being to observe behaviour, record it, look for patterns in the observed behaviour and then make sense of it. In most cases, observations are conducted in a natural, real-world environment, where the people being monitored are unaware of the fact that their behaviour is being recorded. This is called naturalist observation. 2.Participant observation involves the researcher becoming part of the group whose behaviour is being observed and monitored. This may be done either with or without the participants knowledge. 3.Structured (systematic) observation involves the use of an explicitly designed coding framework/chart for recording behaviour. 4.Controlled observation involves the recording of spontaneously occurring behaviour under conditions contrived by the researcher. Such observations usually take place in a laboratory. 5.Observers use systematic methods such as event sampling (which involves observing and recording a specific event every time it occurs) or time sampling (which involves observing behaviour for/at certain periods).

11 Worksheet 3: Studies that use Observational Techniques  Reicher & Haslam  Thigpen & Cleckley  Rosenhan  Griffiths ACTIVITY 3

12 STUDYAPPROACHROLE OF OBSERVATION IN STUDY Milgram Reicher & Haslam Piliavin Rosenhan Thigpen & Cleckley Griffiths CORE STUDIES: Observations

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14 DIFFERENT TYPES: Observations

15 Controlled Observations Conducted in a laboratory or classroom as part of an experimental procedure. Control of Pts and asked to do set tasks e.g. Bandura Natural Observations No control over pts and what they do e.g. Piliavin Participants Observations Type of natural observation, but observer is playing an active role and fully participating member of the group. Overt Covert Griffiths Piliavin Structured & Unstructured Time Sampling > Bandura e.g. 5 sec intervals Event Sampling > Bandura Unstructured >Milgram DIFFERENT TYPES: Observations

16 Type StrengthWeaknesses Controlled All scientific methodsLow ecological validity Natural High ecological validityNo control of variables Participant Natural settingUnethical Unstructured Collect rich dataObserver bias Structured Easy to analyse dataMay exclude behaviours not listed Time Sampling Good insight into how engaged pts are in activity Accuracy issues when recording data Event Sampling Comparison between eventsDoes not give full picture Overt Sampling Ethically sound. No deceptionDemand characteristics Covert Sampling No demand characteristicsUnethical – deception EVALUATION: Types of Observations

17 Observation StrengthWeaknesses What people say is different to what they do. Observer bias (see what they want) Capture spontaneous and unexpected data Can record data about what people think or feel High EcV > naturalistic Can establish C&E Good for preliminary research Poorly designed behavioural checklist reduce reliability Rich, qualitative data Quan & Quali Covert observations unethical (deception) Easy to run Can’t control all variables. Little standardisations. Difficult to replicate. Low in DC’s (covert) High DC’s (overt) EVALUATION: Observations

18 The researcher needs to use a coding scheme or a behavioural checklist when carrying out a observational study. This is a way of categorising behaviour so that is it easier to record every time your target behaviour occurs. MEASUREMENT TOOLS: Coding Schemes

19 Inter-observer reliability 2 observers Should be agreement on data collected IMPROVING: Observations

20 PROCEDURE: Overview 5-7 marks8-10 marks  Good description of procedure  Good evaluation of procedure  2 strengths  2 weaknesses  In-depth description of procedure, including use of specialist terms  In-depth evaluation of procedure  3+ strengths  3+ weaknesses  Good use of grammar and limited spelling mistakes. Describe (4 marks)Evaluate (6 marks) Type Timing (20 min) Who Location When (time of day) IV/DV Reliability Validity Ethics

21 PROCEDURE: Plan 1.What the researcher is going to do step by step. If it’s an observational method- what behaviour is going to be observed? Have you classified the behaviour and created a coding system? Have all the observers been chosen and given training on what behaviour to observe and record? How you chosen where the observation in going to be? 2.Don’t forget your key terms- i.e. what type of experiment is it? - The strengths and weaknesses of that experiment type? Sampling method- strengths and weaknesses of your sampling method and anything which might affect your sample (Cohort effect). Single Blind/Double Blind procedure? Any type of control method such as counterbalancing for repeated measures design? What type of design in it? Inter rater reliability? Ecological Validity? Ability to generalise? 3.How about any ethical issues which might need to be considered for the study? How might they affect the results? How might you deal with them? (Remember-brief/debriefing for a laboratory experiment?) 4.Remember- relate all these to the experiment in question. Responses need to be in context. If the experiment is a laboratory experiment- include factors that affect laboratory experiments such as low Ecological validity which means it’s difficult to generalise outside a lab setting.

22 PROCEDURE: Observation 1.Decide aim and research question 2.Plan procedure: obtain ethics approval, draw up schedule (if structured observation): choose and train observers: plan time and location for observation. 3.Possibly run pilot study in order to check on usefulness of selected categories and feasibility. 4.Covert observations – no informed consent/overt Obs – pats informed that observation will be conducted. 5.Place observers in position. 6.Conduct observation – pts are observed for designated period while observers record behaviours (data collected). 7.Thank and debriefed pts (overt) 8.Analyse data, produce findings and draw conclusions 9.Write report of practical investigation.

23 Worksheet 4: Exam Style Questions (ESQ)  Complete the following ESQ for observations  Example ESQ: January 2011  Scenario 1: Disabled Parking  Scenario 2: Fruit Machines  Scenario 3: Cutting Expenditure  Scenario 4: Students Free Time ACTIVITY 4

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25 EXAMPLE ESQ: June 2009 Look at me! A group of psychologists are interested in conducting an observation study of people’s behaviour as they walk past a shop window. The psychologists want to see if people pay any attention to their own reflection, and is so, what they do. A.Describe an appropriate procedure that could be used in this study. (6) B.Evaluate the reliability and validity of carrying out the study in this way. (6) C.What is time sampling? (2) D.Describe one strength and one weakness of time sampling if it were to be used in this study. (4) E.Identify one ethical issue in this study. (2) TOTAL: 20 MARKS

26 Exam Style Questions: Observation Scenario 1 Many disabled people complained to the manager of a 24-hour shopping complex that every time they visited the centre their designated parking spaces were occupied by cars not displaying the appropriate disabled certificate. The manager therefore decided to conduct an observation to find out if there were specific times of the day when the issue was particularly problematic. He might then be able to put measures in place to alleviate the situation. 1a. Suggest how the shopping complex’s manager could have gathered appropriate data using the time sampling technique. (4) 1b. Describe one weakness of the time sampling technique for gathering data in this study (2) 2a. Describe the type of data gathered in this study (2) 2b. Outline one weakness of this type of data in relation to this study (2) 3. Outline an appropriate procedure for this study (10) 1

27 Exam Style Questions: Observation Scenario 2 The owner of several pubs read in a newspaper that men are more likely than women to gamble on fruit machines in entertainment arcades. He was curious to find out if a similar trend existed in his pubs. Therefore he decided to conduct an observation, using the event sampling technique, to find out whether more men or women used the fruit machines in his pubs. 1a. Describe the term ‘event sampling’ (2) 1b. Outline how the owner of the pubs could have gathered appropriate data in this study using the event sampling technique (4) 2a. Formulate an appropriate one-tailed hypothesis for this study (2) 2b. Explain what makes your hypothesis one-tailed (2) 3. Discuss the issues of reliability and validity in relation to this study (10) 2

28 Exam Style Questions: Observation Scenario 3 A practice manager was looking for ways to cut expenditure. Therefore she decided to find out which magazine/journals patients preferred to read while waiting for a consultation with their doctor. The findings would mean she could save the practice money by only purchasing the most popular publications. She bought several copies of 12 difference magazines and placed them on tables around the practice consulting room. She gathered her data using participant observation. 1a. Describe the term ‘participant observation’ in relation to this study (4) 1b. Describe one strength of using participant observation in this study (2) 1c. Describe one weakness of using participant observation in this study (2) 2a. Sketch a possible coding/observation chart for this study (4) 2b. Describe two ways in which the findings from this observation could be displayed (4) 3a. Describe the opportunity sampling technique in relation to this study (2) 3b. Describe one weakness of the opportunity sampling technique in relation to this study (2) 3

29 Scenario 4 The head teacher of a small sixth- form college wanted to find out what his students did when allowed to spend time in the common room. He therefore designed a coding chart and asked two of his senior students to conduct a covert observation, at convenient times throughout the week prior to half- term. Their findings are shown in the table to the left. 1a. Sketch an appropriate graph to represent the findings of this study (3) 1b. Draw one conclusion from the findings of this observation (2) 2a. Describe one strength of using the observational technique to gather data in this study (2) 2b. Describe one weakness of using the observational technique to gather data in this study (2) 2c. Outline an alternative way data could have been gathered for this study (2) 3. Describe two ethical issues the head teacher had to consider when conducting this investigation (4) 4. Briefly discuss the issue of reliability in relation to this study (5) Behavioural CategoriesNo of students Studying 8 Using mobile phone/iPod, etc. 50 Self-grooming (doing hair/make up) 20 Sleeping 6 Eating/preparing for food or drink 40 Watching TV 60 Playing games on a computer 50 Playing cards/board games 10 4


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