Observation

Report
RESEARCH METHODS
OBSERVATIONS
G541 PSYCHOLOGICAL INVESTIGATIONS
CHECKLIST: Observations
Identify two general strengths and two weaknesses of observations
 Describe what is meant by participant observation
 Identify a strength and weakness of participant observations
 Describe what is meant by naturalistic observation
 Identify a strength and weakness of naturalistic observations
 Describe what is meant by controlled observation
 Identify a strength and weakness of controlled observations
 Describe what is meant by structured observation
 Identify a strength and weakness of structured observation
 Describe what a coding scheme is
 Outline a coding scheme you could use for a given observation
 Describe what is meant by time sampling
 Identify a strength and weakness of time sampling
 Describe what is meant by event sampling
ACTIVITY 1
Worksheet 1: KEY WORDS
Complete the key terms related to this topic
You can use the resources and internet to help
Each definition should be at least two sentences long
You should use these terms where appropriate in your responses to
exam questions
EXAMPLE ESQ: June 2009
Look at me! A group of psychologists are interested in conducting an
observation study of people’s behaviour as they walk past a shop
window. The psychologists want to see if people pay any attention to
their own reflection, and is so, what they do.
A.
B.
C.
D.
E.
Describe an appropriate procedure that could be used in this
study. (6)
Evaluate the reliability and validity of carrying out the study in this
way. (6)
What is time sampling? (2)
Describe one strength and one weakness of time sampling if it
were to be used in this study. (4)
Identify one ethical issue in this study. (2)
TOTAL: 20 MARKS
RESOURCES: Self-Report
• Internet
• PowerPoint
• Exam Style Questions (ESQ)
ACTIVITY 2
Worksheet 2: Summary of the observational method
Outline key features of the self-report method
Identify ethical issues related to the self-report method
Outline strengths of the self-report method
Outline weaknesses of the self-report method
OBSERVATIONS
KEY FEATURES: Observations
In an observation, data are collected by someone observing (watching) participants and
recording what pts do or say. Sometimes the observer is present and sometimes the observer
is hidden behind a one way mirror. Other recording techniques can be used, including video
recordings and CCTV footage. Observations may be conducted on their own or they may be
conducted as part of an experiment.
NB: What identifies an investigation as an experiment is whether it has an IV and DV
rather than where it is conducted or the details of the procedure
1. Observations involve the precise measurement of naturally occurring behaviour, the aim being to
observe behaviour, record it, look for patterns in the observed behaviour and then make sense of it. In
most cases, observations are conducted in a natural, real-world environment, where the people being
monitored are unaware of the fact that their behaviour is being recorded. This is called naturalist
observation.
2. Participant observation involves the researcher becoming part of the group whose behaviour is being
observed and monitored. This may be done either with or without the participants knowledge.
3. Structured (systematic) observation involves the use of an explicitly designed coding framework/chart
for recording behaviour.
4. Controlled observation involves the recording of spontaneously occurring behaviour under conditions
contrived by the researcher. Such observations usually take place in a laboratory.
5. Observers use systematic methods such as event sampling (which involves observing and recording a
specific event every time it occurs) or time sampling (which involves observing behaviour for/at certain
periods).
ACTIVITY 3
Worksheet 3: Studies that use Observational Techniques
Reicher & Haslam
Thigpen & Cleckley
Rosenhan
Griffiths
CORE STUDIES: Observations
STUDY
Milgram
Reicher & Haslam
Piliavin
Rosenhan
Thigpen & Cleckley
Griffiths
APPROACH
ROLE OF OBSERVATION IN STUDY
DIFFERENT TYPES: Observations
DIFFERENT TYPES: Observations
Controlled
Observations
Conducted in a laboratory or classroom as part
of an experimental procedure. Control of Pts and
asked to do set tasks e.g. Bandura
Natural
Observations
Participants
Observations
•No control over pts and what they do e.g.
Piliavin
Overt
Covert
•Griffiths
•Piliavin
Structured &
Unstructured
•Time Sampling > Bandura e.g. 5 sec intervals
•Event Sampling > Bandura
•Unstructured >Milgram
•Type of natural observation, but observer is
playing an active role and fully participating
member of the group.
EVALUATION: Types of Observations
Type
Strength
Weaknesses
Controlled
All scientific methods
Low ecological validity
Natural
High ecological validity
No control of variables
Participant
Natural setting
Unethical
Unstructured
Collect rich data
Observer bias
Structured
Easy to analyse data
May exclude behaviours not listed
Time Sampling
Good insight into how
engaged pts are in activity
Accuracy issues when recording
data
Event Sampling
Comparison between events
Does not give full picture
Overt Sampling
Ethically sound. No deception
Demand characteristics
Covert Sampling
No demand characteristics
Unethical – deception
EVALUATION: Observations
Observation
Strength
Weaknesses
•What people say is different to
what they do.
•Observer bias (see what they want)
•Capture spontaneous and
unexpected data
•Can record data about what people
think or feel
•High EcV > naturalistic
•Can establish C&E
•Good for preliminary research
•Poorly designed behavioural
checklist reduce reliability
•Rich, qualitative data
•Quan & Quali
•Covert observations unethical
(deception)
•Easy to run
•Can’t control all variables.
•Little standardisations.
•Difficult to replicate.
•Low in DC’s (covert)
•High DC’s (overt)
MEASUREMENT TOOLS: Coding Schemes
• The researcher needs to use a coding scheme or a behavioural
checklist when carrying out a observational study.
• This is a way of categorising behaviour so that is it easier to
record every time your target behaviour occurs.
IMPROVING: Observations
Inter-observer reliability
• 2 observers
• Should be agreement on data collected
PROCEDURE: Overview
5-7 marks




Good description of procedure
Good evaluation of procedure
2 strengths
2 weaknesses
Describe (4 marks)
•Type
•Timing (20 min)
•Who
•Location
•When (time of day)
•IV/DV
8-10 marks

In-depth description of procedure,
including use of specialist terms
 In-depth evaluation of procedure
 3+ strengths
 3+ weaknesses
 Good use of grammar and limited
spelling mistakes.
Evaluate (6 marks)
•Reliability
•Validity
•Ethics
PROCEDURE: Plan
1.
2.
3.
4.
What the researcher is going to do step by step.
If it’s an observational method- what behaviour is going to be observed?
Have you classified the behaviour and created a coding system? Have all
the observers been chosen and given training on what behaviour to
observe and record? How you chosen where the observation in going to
be?
Don’t forget your key terms- i.e. what type of experiment is it? - The
strengths and weaknesses of that experiment type? Sampling methodstrengths and weaknesses of your sampling method and anything which
might affect your sample (Cohort effect). Single Blind/Double Blind
procedure? Any type of control method such as counterbalancing for
repeated measures design? What type of design in it? Inter rater
reliability? Ecological Validity? Ability to generalise?
How about any ethical issues which might need to be considered for the
study? How might they affect the results? How might you deal with
them? (Remember-brief/debriefing for a laboratory experiment?)
Remember- relate all these to the experiment in question. Responses
need to be in context. If the experiment is a laboratory experimentinclude factors that affect laboratory experiments such as low Ecological
validity which means it’s difficult to generalise outside a lab setting.
PROCEDURE: Observation
1. Decide aim and research question
2. Plan procedure: obtain ethics approval, draw up schedule (if
structured observation): choose and train observers: plan time
and location for observation.
3. Possibly run pilot study in order to check on usefulness of
selected categories and feasibility.
4. Covert observations – no informed consent/overt Obs – pats
informed that observation will be conducted.
5. Place observers in position.
6. Conduct observation – pts are observed for designated period
while observers record behaviours (data collected).
7. Thank and debriefed pts (overt)
8. Analyse data, produce findings and draw conclusions
9. Write report of practical investigation.
ACTIVITY 4
Worksheet 4: Exam Style Questions (ESQ)
Complete the following ESQ for observations
Example ESQ: January 2011
Scenario 1: Disabled Parking
Scenario 2: Fruit Machines
Scenario 3: Cutting Expenditure
Scenario 4: Students Free Time
EXAMPLE ESQ: June 2009
Look at me! A group of psychologists are interested in conducting an
observation study of people’s behaviour as they walk past a shop
window. The psychologists want to see if people pay any attention to
their own reflection, and is so, what they do.
A.
B.
C.
D.
E.
Describe an appropriate procedure that could be used in this
study. (6)
Evaluate the reliability and validity of carrying out the study in this
way. (6)
What is time sampling? (2)
Describe one strength and one weakness of time sampling if it
were to be used in this study. (4)
Identify one ethical issue in this study. (2)
TOTAL: 20 MARKS
Exam Style Questions: Observation
Scenario 1
Many disabled people complained to the manager of a 24-hour shopping
complex that every time they visited the centre their designated parking
spaces were occupied by cars not displaying the appropriate disabled
certificate. The manager therefore decided to conduct an observation to
find out if there were specific times of the day when the issue was
particularly problematic. He might then be able to put measures in place to
alleviate the situation.
1a. Suggest how the shopping complex’s manager could have gathered
appropriate data using the time sampling technique. (4)
1b. Describe one weakness of the time sampling technique for gathering
data in this study (2)
2a. Describe the type of data gathered in this study (2)
2b. Outline one weakness of this type of data in relation to this study (2)
3. Outline an appropriate procedure for this study (10)
1
Exam Style Questions: Observation
Scenario 2
The owner of several pubs read in a newspaper that men are more likely
than women to gamble on fruit machines in entertainment arcades. He was
curious to find out if a similar trend existed in his pubs. Therefore he
decided to conduct an observation, using the event sampling technique, to
find out whether more men or women used the fruit machines in his pubs.
1a. Describe the term ‘event sampling’ (2)
1b. Outline how the owner of the pubs could have gathered appropriate
data in this study using the event sampling technique (4)
2a. Formulate an appropriate one-tailed hypothesis for this study (2)
2b. Explain what makes your hypothesis one-tailed (2)
3. Discuss the issues of reliability and validity in relation to this study (10)
2
Exam Style Questions: Observation
Scenario 3
A practice manager was looking for ways to cut expenditure. Therefore she
decided to find out which magazine/journals patients preferred to read
while waiting for a consultation with their doctor. The findings would mean
she could save the practice money by only purchasing the most popular
publications. She bought several copies of 12 difference magazines and
placed them on tables around the practice consulting room. She gathered
her data using participant observation.
1a. Describe the term ‘participant observation’ in relation to this study (4)
1b. Describe one strength of using participant observation in this study (2)
1c. Describe one weakness of using participant observation in this study (2)
2a. Sketch a possible coding/observation chart for this study (4)
2b. Describe two ways in which the findings from this observation could be displayed (4)
3a. Describe the opportunity sampling technique in relation to this study (2)
3b. Describe one weakness of the opportunity sampling technique in relation to this
study (2)
3
Behavioural Categories
No of
students
Studying
8
Using mobile phone/iPod, etc.
50
Self-grooming (doing hair/make up)
20
Sleeping
6
Eating/preparing for food or drink
40
Watching TV
60
Playing games on a computer
50
Playing cards/board games
10
Scenario 4
The head teacher of a small sixthform college wanted to find out
what his students did when allowed
to spend time in the common
room. He therefore designed a
coding chart and asked two of his
senior students to conduct a covert
observation, at convenient times
throughout the week prior to halfterm. Their findings are shown in
the table to the left.
1a. Sketch an appropriate graph to represent the findings of this study (3)
1b. Draw one conclusion from the findings of this observation (2)
2a. Describe one strength of using the observational technique to gather data in this study (2)
2b. Describe one weakness of using the observational technique to gather data in this study (2)
2c. Outline an alternative way data could have been gathered for this study (2)
3. Describe two ethical issues the head teacher had to consider when conducting this
investigation (4)
4. Briefly discuss the issue of reliability in relation to this study (5)
4

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