Part 2: Observational Research (Behavioural sampling techniques (2 main…
Part 2: Observational Research
Psychologists observe actual behaviour of people in various kinds of situations. Psychologists try to observe in a disciplined manner and describe behaviour objectively and exactly.
Strengths of Observational techniques- Collect data high in validity. Pp's actual behaviour is being measured, rather than how they think they'd react. Removing social desirability.
Weaknesses of Observational techniques- Tend to be unethical. As a result of pp's being observed without their consent, or knowledge.
Way of collecting data involving pp's behaviour being recorded by researcher who's engaged with them as part of the social setting. (Researcher joins group they're observing).
Strengths- Lots of in depth data because research is able to access first hand information about pp's as they're a part of the group. Therefore increasing the validity.
High ecological validity because when research joins a group of pp's this is generally in a natural setting.
Weaknesses- Difficult to record data in field because could draw attention to research and increase demand characteristics. Therefore difficult to carry out.
Increased researcher bias because rapport could be established due to becoming part of the group, resulting in a biased opinion of pp's. Therefore reducing validity of findings.
Way of collecting data involving pp's behaviour being recorded by researcher that isn't engaged with them as part of a social setting. Observer can be overt or covert.
Strengths- Less researcher bias because rapport is less likely to develop. Therefore increasing validity of findings.
Weaknesses- Less detailed data as researcher not getting as much information on pp's behaviour because they're not observing from within the group. Therefore reducing validity.
Involves pp's being observed in normal environment, without interference from researchers in either social or physical environment (e.g. observing children playing on a playground).
Strengths- High ecological validity because they're carried out in natural environments and pp's behave naturally. Therefore the results can be generalised to real life situations.
Reduce demand characteristics because if pp's are observed in their natural environment may not guess what study is about and change their behaviour. Therefore increases the validity of the findings.
Weaknesses- Difficult to replicate because they're in natural settings, which may change. Therefore have a low reliability.
Difficult to record data because research is in a natural setting, often without recording equipment. Therefore making it difficult to carry out.
Involves pp's being observed in situations in which there has been some manipulation (e.g. social or physical environment) by researchers. Controlled observations may be conducted in either pp's normal environment or in artificial situation, e.g. laboratory.
Strengths- Easier to replicate because they're in controlled settings. Therefore they're reliable.
Easier to record data because research is in controlled setting, often with recording equipment. Therefore easier to carry out.
Reduces ethical issues because pp's generally give consent as know they're being observed.
Weaknesses- Low ecological validity because they're carried out in artificial environments and pp's won't behave naturally. Therefore results can't be generalised to real life situations.
High demand characteristics because if pp's are observed in artificial environment may guess aim of the study and change behaviour. Therefore reduces validity of the findings.
Where pp's are aware they're being observed.
Strengths- Reduces ethical issues because consent can be gained and deception can be avoided.
Weaknesses- Increases experimenter bias/demand characteristics because pp's may change their behaviour as they know they're being observed.
Where pp's are unaware they're being observed. The observer may be participant or non-participant.
Strengths- Reduces demand characteristics/observer bias because pp's will behave naturally as they don't know they're being observed.
Weaknesses- Raises ethical issues because consent isn't gained/invasion of privacy.
Where observer records a non-specified, wide range of behaviours including any that seem relevant.
Strengths- Provides rich and detailed qualitative data because any data can be recorded, not just behaviours on a coding scheme. Therefore increasing validity.
Weaknesses- Researcher bias may occur because researcher may only take note of particular behaviours which supports aims. Therefore reduces validity.
Where observer records specified range of behaviours in pre-defined categories. The
are pre-defined behaviours which the observer will look for. Must be observable actions rather than inferred states. For example, behaviours e.g. smiling, laughing can be observed, but 'being happy' can't.
list or table of behavioural categories used to tally each event as it occurs.
This can make recording behavioural categories easier, as it's a table including behavioural categories e.g. 'hitting', 'biting' and 'shouting' they're abbreviated to a letter. When each one recorded, further info might be scored, e.g. where they were hit/bit. Or how loudly they shouted on a scale of 1-3.
Strengths- Data easier to analyse because quantitative data is obtained. Making results more reliable.
Easier to record behaviour because researcher only focussing on behaviours on coding scheme, reducing researcher bias.
Weaknesses- Lack of detail because only quantitative data obtained. Reducing validity.
Miss important behaviours because may not be on the coding scheme.
Behavioural sampling techniques
2 main ways of Sampling behaviour in observational studies:
Observer keeps a count of each and every time particular behaviour occurs for full duration of observation. e.g. ticking a box whenever someone uses their mobile phone.
- More accurate picture of behaviour, observers less likely to miss things because behaviour recorded continuously and all occurrences of behaviours being studied. Increases validity.
- Difficult to record all specified behaviours continuously because researcher may miss some behaviours whilst recording others, if too many happen at once.
is when observer decides on time interval (every 1 min or 1 hr or every hour for 6 hours). Record what behaviours are displayed during this time period only.
- Easier to carry out because observer is only observing behaviour for certain time periods, so takes less time. Also allow for greater level of accuracy if small time periods are used because researcher will be more focused.
- miss important behaviours during the period when observers not observing/sampling behaviour.
Reliability of Observations
Reliability is how consistent a measuring device is. Measurement is said to be reliable or consistent if measurement can produce similar results if used again in similar circumstances.
How reliability is affected- Observer bias, Unclear/ambiguous coding scheme or no coding scheme and control over environment.
How it can be tested- Involves 2+ researchers observing same behaviour using same coding scheme and checking for agreement in scores. >80% agreement is needed for inter-rater reliability.
Improvements of reliability- Training observers so know how to use it. Making coding schemes very clear (pilot study). Carry observation out at same time/place.
Validity of Observations
Refers to whether study measures/examines what it claims to. Observations should lack validity, if pp's aware of being observed causes demand characteristics. Validity reduced by observer bias.
How validity is affected- Observer bias, Demand characteristics, Experimenter bias, Invalid coding scheme.
Improvements of validity- Making categories clearer, carrying out covert observations, observer unaware of aims of investigation.