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Naturalistic Observation. A Brief Introduction. The main purpose of observational methods is description. We simply observe behaviors and seek for patterns in these behaviors. That is, we try to develop a theory to explain behavior

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a brief introduction
A Brief Introduction
  • The main purpose of observational methods is description.
    • We simply observe behaviors and seek for patterns in these behaviors.
    • That is, we try to develop a theory to explain behavior
  • Etiology: A study of documentation of animal and human behaviors
    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKyrLFyOi04
a brief introduction1
A Brief Introduction
  • Naturalistic observation can be used in two major ways
    • Observation with an intervention (a manipulation)
    • Observation without an intervention (without a manipulation)
observation w ith an i ntervention
Observation With an Intervention
  • We use that method when
    • We have an a priori idea of what to observe, and
    • The event that we interested in is rare
    • That kind of observations is a kind of field experiments
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHA3YpjdqZs
observation w ithout an i ntervention
Observation Without an Intervention
  • In such observational studies, the researcher simply watcher what is going on
  • It is a good method when
    • We do not have an a priori idea of what to observe, and
    • The event is not rare
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4wy1wQZgwI
two major way to observe
Two Major Way to Observe
  • We can conduct observational studies in different ways
    • Overt vs. Covert observations
    • Participant vs. non-participant observations
two major way to observe overt vs covert o bservations
Two Major Way to ObserveOvert vs. Covert Observations
  • In overt observations, participants are aware of being watched
    • It is more ethical.
      • We can ask participants for consent
    • Participants may behave unnaturally
  • In covert observations participants are not aware of being watched
    • Participants behave more natural
    • Ethical problems
two major way to observe participant vs n on p articipant o bservations
Two Major Way to ObserveParticipant vs. Non-ParticipantObservations
  • In participant observations, researcher participate the interactions between participants
    • We can get an in-depth picture of behavior
    • Observer may bias participants’ behaviors
  • In non-participant observations, researcher does not participate the interactions between participants
    • We can get a more limited picture of behavior
    • Observer cannot bias participants’ behaviors
four combinations of observational studies overt participant observations
Four Combinations of Observational StudiesOvert-Participant Observations
  • Between 2005 and 2008, Sümer conducted an project on the interaction between mother and child. He simply interested in mother sensitivity and child’s reactions.
    • For this study, two observers visited homes and observed the interactions between mother and child. They used a specific measurement method “Q-Sort” for their observations.
  • Milligram (1992) investigated how individuals deal with urban life in which unwanted encounters are inevitable.
    • Researchers took photographs of people in train stations and showed these pictures to commuters.
    • They asked participants whether they recognized the person in the picture.
    • By this way, they concluded that the average New York City commuter had 4.5 familiar strangers in his or her life.
four combinations of observational studies co vert participant observations
Four Combinations of Observational StudiesCovert-Participant Observations
  • In 1956, Festinger observed a religious cult which believed that a flood would destroy most of North America in late December.
    • The leader of the cult, MrsKeetch, asserted that she had contact with aliens from a planet called Clarion.
    • She devoted herself to spread aliens’ word and convince people to get prepared.
    • Festinger guessed that this disaster would never happen and he wanted to observe what would happen after the predicted date of disaster (the aftermath of the failed prophecy).
  • He joined the cult with his two colleagues and five hired observers. They encountered several methodological difficulties
    • First, data recording was a problem. They could not write what they observed when they attended to the cult’s meetings in MrsKeetch’ house. They could not rely on their memories, so they decided to use bathroom to report whatever they experienced in the meeting.
    • Second and more serious problem was reactivity. The mere presence of observers as members strengthened the belief that the flood prophecy was correct.
four combinations of observational studies overt non participant observations
Four Combinations of Observational StudiesOvert –Non-Participant Observations
  • In Hawthorne experiments, workers were observed in differing work conditions between 1924 and 1932.
    • Studies were conducted in Hawthorne Works (a factory) of Western Electric Company.
    • These studies are the source of now famous term Hawthorne Effect.
  • In most ethnographical studies, animals are aware of being observed.
    • Mere-exposure and familiarization is used to observe animals behaviors.
four combinations of observational studies co vert non participant observations
Four Combinations of Observational StudiesCovert –Non-Participant Observations
  • Graham and Wells (2001) conducted a naturalistic observation study of bar patrons in a Canadian taverns.
    • They used naturalistic observation and interviews in their research.
    • In the naturalistic observation portion of their research, 117 aggressive incidents were observed during the 93 nights of the study.
    • Most of the observation periods were weekend nights between midnight and 2:30 a.m.; the patrons were unaware that research was being conducted.
    • The researchers documented patterns of aggressive behavior in this particular bar.
      • For example, they found that nearly 75% of the incidents involved males only.
      • Also, moderate or higher levels of physical aggression were observed in 67% of the incidents.
      • About 33% of the incidents occurred outside of the bar’s premises.
    • Graham and Wells identified several triggers for aggression in bars, including problems with bar staff, rowdy behavior, and interpersonal relationship problems.
    • Studies such as this might be helpful to bar managers who want to reduce aggressive incidents in their establishments.
  • See http://peace.saumag.edu/faculty/kardas/Courses/RMPA/naturalisticobservation.html
the process of observation al studies
The Process of Observational Studies
  • In general, observational studies are consisted of two phases
    • First Phase: Unstructured Observation
    • Second phase: Structured Observation
the process of observation al studies unstructured observation
The Process of Observational StudiesUnstructured Observation
  • Researcher simply observes all behaviors.
    • S/He takes notes about behavior and possible contextual triggers.
    • These notes are observer narratives
      • Observer narratives must be as objective as they could be.
      • They are a kind of a operational definition of the observed behavior.
the process of observation al studies st ructured observation
The Process of Observational StudiesStructured Observation
  • Researcher decide on which behaviors are going to be observed
    • To observe target behaviors, researcher must choose behavioral units
    • A behavior unit can be measured as
      • Frequency
      • Duration
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_SS2ebPItg
observer bias
Observer Bias
  • No observer is a mechanical tool.
    • So, every observations are open to biases.
  • Possible Sources of Observer Bias
    • Selective Attention
    • Selective Encoding and Retrieval
  • To reduce observer bias
    • Control observer knowledge
    • Separate fact from interpretation
    • Use sampling methods
t o reduce observer bias control observer knowledge
to Reduce Observer BiasControl Observer Knowledge
  • Whenever it is possible, it is good to keep observer uninformed.
    • This method is called blinding
  • When observers do not know the purpose or hypothesis of the observation, they can not bias their observations
    • It is sometime hard to keep observers uninformed
t o reduce observer bias separate fact from interpretation
to Reduce Observer BiasSeparate Fact From Interpretation
  • In many cases, observers can confuse interpretations with facts.
    • Hitting is a fact. Aggressive behavior or aggression is an interpretation of this fact
  • A part of observation form can be allocated for interpretations

Fear or excitement is something that we attribted to a certain facial expression

t o reduce observer bias use sampling methods
to Reduce Observer Bias Use Sampling Methods
  • Bias can be reduced by removing observers’ choices about
    • Which subject will be observed, or
    • When subjects will be observed
  • To reduce sampling bias, we can use two methods
    • Event sampling
    • Time sampling
sampling methods event sampling
Sampling MethodsEvent Sampling
  • A group of event are randomly chosen
    • It increase the generalizability of observations to different stiuations
  • For observation of driver behaviors
    • Different traffic lights can be chosen randomly
  • For observation of students behavior in kantin
    • Different tables can be chosen randomly
sampling methods time sampling
Sampling MethodsTime Sampling
  • The time of observation is randomly chosen
    • It increase the generalizability of observations to different time periods
  • For observation of driver behaviors
    • Different periods of day can be chosen randomly
  • For observation of students behavior in kantin
    • Different periods of conversation can be chosen randomly
observer reliability
Observer Reliability
  • To ensure that observer relaibly observe the subject, several methods can be used
    • Using more than one observer
      • At least, two observer observe the same subject
      • Correlation coefficient assess reliability
        • r= .70 to .90 is ok
        • r < .70 = observations are not reliable. PROBLEM
        • r> .90 = Observations are too similar. PROBLEM
    • Clarifying behavioral units
      • Behavior units should be clearified before observations
      • Observers may share their experiences after the observation
    • Using recording techniques
      • Video and voice records can be used to identify
        • Whether anything missed in the observation
        • Whether observers reported same behavior in a similar way