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The 3 Basic Types of Descriptive Research Methods

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❶He also indicates that it is at this point, when members begin to ask the observer questions about the group and when they begin to include the observer in the "gossip," that it is time to leave the field. This is the technical difference between the two terms, namely, research methods and research methodology.

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Controlled Observation
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The results generated are analyzable and are used to test hypotheses , with statistics giving a clear and unambiguous picture. This research method is one of the most difficult, requiring rigorous design and a great deal of expense, especially for larger experiments. The other problem, where real life organisms are used, is that taking something out of its natural environment can seriously affect its behavior. It is also the biggest drain on time and resources, and is often impossible to perform for some fields, because of ethical considerations.

The Tuskegee Syphilis Study was a prime example of experimental research that was fixated on results, and failed to take into account moral considerations. In other fields of study, which do not always have the luxury of definable and quantifiable variables - you need to use different research methods. These should attempt to fit all of the definitions of repeatability or falsifiability , although this is not always feasible.

Opinion based research methods generally involve designing an experiment and collecting quantitative data. For this type of research, the measurements are usually arbitrary, following the ordinal or interval type. Questionnaires are an effective way of quantifying data from a sample group, and testing emotions or preferences. This method is very cheap and easy, where budget is a problem, and gives an element of scale to opinion and emotion.

These figures are arbitrary, but at least give a directional method of measuring intensity. By definition, this experiment method must be used where emotions or behaviors are measured, as there is no other way of defining the variables. Whilst not as robust as experimental research , the methods can be replicated and the results falsified.

Observational research is a group of different research methods where researchers try to observe a phenomenon without interfering too much. Observational research methods, such as the case study , are probably the furthest removed from the established scientific method.

Observational research tends to use nominal or ordinal scales of measurement. Observational research often has no clearly defined research problem , and questions may arise during the course of the study. Observation is heavily used in social sciences, behavioral studies and anthropology, as a way of studying a group without affecting their behavior. Whilst the experiment cannot be replicated or falsified , it still offers unique insights, and will advance human knowledge.

These types are organized below by the extent to which an experimenter intrudes upon or controls the environment. Observational research is particularly prevalent in the social sciences and in marketing. It is a social research technique that involves the direct observation of phenomena in their natural setting. This differentiates it from experimental research in which a quasi-artificial environment is created to control for spurious factors, and where at least one of the variables is manipulated as part of the experiment.

Cases studies and archival research are special types of observational research. Naturalistic or nonparticipant observation has no intervention by a researcher.

It is simply studying behaviors that occur naturally in natural contexts, unlike the artificial environment of a controlled laboratory setting. Importantly, in naturalistic observation, there is no attempt to manipulate variables.

Observation without intervention may be either overt meaning that subjects are aware they are being observed or covert meaning that subjects are not aware. There are several disadvantages and limitations to naturalistic observation. One is that it does not allow researchers to make causal statements about the situations they observe. For this reason, behavior can only be described, not explained. Furthermore, there are ethical concerns related to observing individuals without their consent.

One way to avoid this problem is to debrief subjects after observing them, and ask for their consent then, before using the observations for research. This tactic would also help avoid one of the pitfalls of overt observation, in which observers ask for consent before observation has started. In these situations, when subjects know they are being watched, they may alter their behavior in an attempt to make themselves look more admirable.

Naturalistic observation may also be time consuming, sometimes requiring dozens of observation sessions lasting large parts of each day to collect information on the behavior of interest. Most psychological research uses observation with some component of intervention. Reasons for intervening include: Participate observation is characterized as either undisguised or disguised.

In undisguised observation, the observed individuals know that the observer is present for the purpose of collecting info about their behavior. This technique is often used to understand the culture and behavior of groups or individuals. This technique is often used when researchers believe that the individuals under observation may change their behavior as a result of knowing that they were being recorded.

There are several benefits to doing participant observation. Firstly, participant research allows researchers to observe behaviors and situations that are not usually open to scientific observation. Furthermore, participant research allows the observer to have the same experiences as the people under study, which may provide important insights and understandings of individuals or groups.

Firstly, participant observers may sometimes lose their objectivity as a result of participating in the study. This usually happens when observers begin to identify with the individuals under study, and this threat generally increases as the degree of observer participation increases. Secondly, participant observers may unduly influence the individuals whose behavior they are recording.

This effect is not easily assessed, however, it generally more prominent when the group being observed is small, or if the activities of the participant observer are prominent. Lastly, disguised observation raises some ethical issues regarding obtaining information without respondents' knowledge.

The dilemma here is of course that if informed consent were obtained from participants, respondents would likely choose not to cooperate. Structured observation represents a compromise between the passive nonintervention of naturalistic observation, and the systematic manipulation of independent variables and precise control characterized by lab experiments. Structured observation is frequently employed by clinical and developmental psychologists, or for studying animals in the wild. One benefit to structured observation is that it allows researchers to record behaviors that may be difficult to observe using naturalistic observation, but that are more natural than the artificial conditions imposed in a lab.

However, problems in interpreting structured observations can occur when the same observation procedures are not followed across observations or observers, or when important variables are not controlled across observations. In field experiments, researchers manipulate one or more independent variables in a natural setting to determine the effect on behavior. This method represents the most extreme form of intervention in observational methods, and researchers are able to exert more control over the study and its participants.

However, confounding may decrease internal validity of a study, and ethical issues may arise in studies involving high-risk. Indirect observation can be used if one wishes to be entirely unobtrusive in their observation method. This can often be useful if a researcher is approaching a particularly sensitive topic that would be likely to elicit reactivity in the subject. There are also potential ethical concerns that are avoided by using the indirect observational method.

Naturalistic Observation

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Observation, as the name implies, is a way of collecting data through observing. Observation data collection method is classified as a participatory study, because the researcher has to immerse herself in the setting where her respondents are, while taking notes and/or recording.

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Controlled observations are usually overt as the researcher explains the research aim to the group, so the participants know they are being observed. Controlled observations are also usually non-participant as the researcher avoids any direct contact with the group, keeping a distance (e.g. observing behind a Author: Saul Mcleod.

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Observational Research. What is Observational Research? Observational research (or field research) is a type of correlational (i.e., non-experimental) research in which a researcher observes ongoing behavior. There are a variety of types of observational research, each of . Observational Method. This module describes the observational method of descriptive research and discusses its uses. Learning Objectives: Define observational research. List reasons researchers use the observational method; List and describe the three basics types .

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Observational Method With the observational method (sometimes referred to as field observation) animal and human behavior is closely observed. The 3 Basic Types of Descriptive Research Methods. In the current research environment, its status seems to have changed, leading Adler and Adler to question whether observation is a research method “in .