What is Observation Method in Psychology? Give its Advantages and Disadvantages.

The observational method of research concerns the planned watching, recording, and analysis of observed behaviour as it occurs in a natural setting. The observational method is a non-experimental design. The absence of an independent variable does not allow any cause-effect conclusions to be drawn from observational research. Sound evidence is however important to the observational method. Indeed, the observational method’s key feature is a standardized, planned and systematic approach to objectively observe and record behaviour.

This is of course to generate all important data upon which to base any conclusions. Observations, which can be overt or covert, are of five main types. We have participant observation, non-participant observation, structured observation, unstructured observation and naturalistic observation. Each involves the planned gathering, analysis, and interpretation of mostly empirical data on observed behaviour.

Each observation has its own features, advantages and disadvantages. Participant observation, for example, sees the researcher set up, and take part in the observation of behaviour under investigation. Non-participant observation sees no involvement on the part of the researcher, with recordings of observed behaviors being taken from afar.

The observational method has both advantages and disadvantages as a research design in psychology. Covert observations call be problematic regards ethics and disclosure. 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.

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