How Naturalistic Observation Are Important in Psychology Research?

Observation is a common practice in our everyday lives. As social creatures, we’re always exploring our surroundings and reflecting on the things happening around us. Naturalistic observation is also one of the most common methods that are used in psychology research. Because of its versatility and ease of use, you can use observational techniques for collecting a wide range of data. One can use these for making a few psychoeducational judgments. For its direct nature, observation is suitable for everyday life contexts, and could provide an adequate record of behavior as well. One can use it for pre-testing, treatment planning, and management. As well as for the evidence of changes with time.

You can use observation as a mixed method assessment. Which also uses other assessments like interviews, and rating scales. Through this method you can collect other types of data such as from children, teachers, and adults. In fact, direct observation is one of the most credible methods for processing the world around us. This data can be used for various purposes like dissertation proposal writing. Thus, naturalistic observation is important in the domain of psychology research. It allows the researcher to observe a phenomenon in its natural setting. This strategy provides scientists with an up-close look at social interactions. It also helps them uncover aspects they might have skipped in a lab setting.

How important is naturalistic observation in the domain of psychology research? You need to choose the best method for your psychology research to make it credible. In short, it is important to know which method is useful, and why. To find out how naturalistic observations are important in Psychology, you need to keep reading this article. But before you know how important naturalistic observation is, you need to know the types of observation as well.

Types of Observation in Psychology Research

Participant Observation

Researchers in participant observation become active participants of the context they’re studying. Participant observation relates to naturalistic observation as it includes monitoring people’s behavior in their natural context.

Structured Observation

The researcher observes one, or more distinct behaviors within an organised environment. Opposite to the settings employed in naturalistic, and participant observation. Here, the researcher may study individuals in a laboratory setting.

Case Studies

Case studies, like many observation research methodologies, are more qualitative in character. Further, case study approaches entail an in-depth, and long-term assessment of a single person or unit.

Archival Research

This method includes examining data that was already collected for another reason.

The Importance of Naturalistic Observation in Psychology Research

You may use the observations made in a natural setting to spark future research. The knowledge gathered via naturalistic observation could result in ideas that help individuals in both overcoming future challenges, and in living better lives as well. You can use Naturalistic observation like case studies as well for developing new ideas. Because it allows the researcher to examine the entire issue, it frequently reveals lines of investigation that were not previously considered.

There are several ways highlighting how naturalistic observations are important in psychology research;

Free of ethical concerns

Enables researchers to investigate things that are not possible to observe in a lab due to ethical concerns. For example, it would be immoral to examine the impacts of captivity by restricting participants. Thus, researchers can note the prisoners by conducting naturalistic observations in actual jail situations.

More valid results

Naturalistic observation can boost the research’s generalisability of results. Many people claim that one could extrapolate the results of a laboratory to a wider population. But this does not imply that they would see the same results in a natural context. Thus, when you collect data from naturalistic observation, it has more external validity.

Various data collection techniques

Based on the kind of behavior the researcher watches, he may elect to film each observation session on audio, or videotape. Also, during the session, the observer may take notes that they can relate to later. They can use these notes to collect data, and to identify behavioral trends as well. Also, the observer records when and how frequently specific those actions occur.

Sampling techniques

Observing every minute of a subject’s life is rarely realistic, if at all conceivable. As a result, researchers frequently use sampling to get data from naturalistic observation. The objective is to ensure that the sample data is indicative of subject’s general behavior. A representative sample is the one collected through time sampling, or situation sampling aspects.

Time sampling involves taking samples at different point of times such as random, or systematic sampling. Situation sampling is observing behavior in several contexts.

Some Disadvantages Of Using Naturalistic Observation In Psychology Research

Although there are many advantages of naturalistic observation, there are some limitations of this method as well. These are given as follows;

  1. Often researchers use naturalistic observations on a small scale communication. A small sample lacks generalisability which leads to bias in the results. There might be biasness in demographics of the subjects. Which may result in findings lacking the ability to generalise.
  2. Because you cannot control other factors, natural observations are less accurate. This makes it impossible for some other researchers to replicate the study.
  3. If people are aware that someone is watching them, they may act differently. Participants may attempt to act better than usual so that they can look more acceptable to people watching them. This can result in the social desirability factor which brings biasness to the results. Researchers can try to prevent the problem, but it can be tough to remove.
  4. Two observers may reach different inferences about the same observed behavior. They may see the same behavior, but assign it to different sources.
  5. Another drawback is that the researcher must know how to identify the characteristics of a scenario. They must know what is psychologically relevant, and what requires more investigation as well.

An example to show how naturalistic observations occur is to conduct study regarding the effects of alcoholism on social circle. The researcher would observe an alcoholic in various settings such as at work, and with friends. The researcher would also observe the alcoholic while driving, and while dealing with family. Then the researcher would record every move and instance.

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