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Primary Data Collection - Observations

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❶To study crowd behavior, the investigator would have to wait until a crowd is formed in a natural setting. The method also relies on the interpretation of observation.

What is observation?

Advantages and Disadvantages of Conducting Observational Research


Observation is one of the main bases of formulating hypothesis. By observing a phenomenon continuously, the researcher may get well acquainted with the observed. He came to know about their habits, likes, dislikes, problems, perception, different activities and so many other things. All these help him a lot to form a hypothesis on them. Any researcher, therefore, has to be a good observer.

In other methods like interview, questionnaire etc. So these are indirect methods and here the investigator does not have any means to examine the accuracy of the data supplied by them. But in observation the observer can directly check the accuracy from the observed. He can apply various devices to test the reliability of their behaviour. So very often the data collected through observation is more reliable than these collected through interview or questionnaire. Observation is a common method used in all sciences, whether physical or social.

So it has greater universality of practice. As a common method, it is very easily followed and accepted. Observation can deal with phenomena which are not capable of giving verbal information about their behaviour, feeling and activities simply for the reason that they cannot speak e. Observation is indispensable for studies on infants who can neither understand the quarries of the researcher nor express themselves clearly.

In the case of animals observation is the only way out. For deaf and dumb persons, for serious cases of abnormality or mad persons, for non-cooperative persons, for too shy persons and for persons who do not understand the language of researcher, observation will be the only appropriate tool.

Observation does not require the willingness of the people to provide various information about them. Often some respondents do not like to speak about themselves to an outsider. Some people do not have time or required skill to provide important information to the researcher. Although observation cannot always overcome such problems, still relatively speaking it requires less active co-operation and willingness of respondents.

Observation is ever possible without the knowledge of the respondents. There are many personal behaviours or secret activities which are not open for observation.

For example, no couple will allow the researcher to observe their sexual activities. In most of the cases people do not allow the outsider to study their activities. Such problems arise because of the uncertainty of the event. Many social events are very much uncertain in nature. It is a difficult task on the part of the researcher to determine their time and place. The event may take place in the absence of the observer. On the other hand, it may not occur in the constant presence of the observer.

Confounding variables also plague observations. These are infinite, and include observer bias and the observer effect. If the researcher plans, structures, and conducts their observation appropriately, the observational method can be seen as a most valid and reliable form of non-experimental research in psychology mainly due to the observational method's high ecological validity.

Particularly good for observing specific subjects. Provides ecologically valid recordings of natural behaviour.

Spontaneous behaviours are more likely to happen. Where research is undisclosed consent will not be obtained, where consent is not obtained - details may be used which infringe confidentiality. Allows control of extraneous variables. Reliability of results can be tested by repeating the study. Provides a safe environment to study contentious concepts such as infant attachment. The implementation of controls may have an effect on behaviour. Lack of ecological validity. Gives a broad overview of a situation.

Gives an "insiders" view. Behaviours are less prone to misinterpretation because researcher was a participant. Opportunity for researcher to become an "accepted" part of the environment.


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Advantages and Disadvantages of Conducting Observational Research. The following table provides an evaluation of observation as a research method. A key advantage of conducting observations is that you can observe what people actually do or say, rather than what they say they do.

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As with most research methods, observational research works best in tandem with other methods. A focus group, for instance, could outline thoughts and opinions, while observation showcases actual behavior in real-life situations.

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Disadvantages of Observational Method: The major problem with observational methods is that the investigator has little control over the situation he is interested to observe. In the natural setting, too many extraneous factors influence the phenomenon. Advantages of Observational Research. The biggest advantage of observational research has already been noted: it enables businesses to observe potential customers in a natural setting, which can reveal penetrating insights unavailable through other methods such as focus groups and surveys.

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Advantages of Observation: (1) Simplest Method: Observation is probably the most common and the simplest method of data collection. It does not require much technical knowledge. Although scientific controlled observation requires some technical skill of the researcher, still it is easier than other methods. There are different types of observational research so I’ve assumed you mean participant observation. Advantages Being physically there means you don’t have to rely on people reporting events or behaviour, you can see it directly.