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Quote of the Day. What you observe is more a reflection of what you are thinking than what you are seeing. -Anonymous. Observational Techniques. Complete Observer. Observer as Participant. Participant Observer. Complete Participant. More. Structure. Less.

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Quote of the Day

What you observe is more a reflection of what you are thinking than what you are seeing.



Observational Techniques

Complete Observer

Observer as Participant

Participant Observer

Complete Participant





Observational Techniques

Covert Procedures:

Complete Observer

Structured, typically involving lab instrumentation and hardware

Complete Participant

Unstructured, typically involving narrative and ethnography

Overt Procedures:

Observer as Participant

Semi-structured, typically involving knowledge of majority

Participant Observer

Semi-structured, typically involving knowledge of only key people


Observational Techniques

Structured Unstructured




Complete Observation and Observer as Participant Example

Bales Interaction Process Analyzer

Technique for analyzing consensus building in group discussion. Started with Bale’s jury study and evolved into general group dynamics. Utilizes box with paper roller; verbal utterances charted by type response


Participant Observation and

Complete Participation Example

Lofland’s Analyzing Social Settings

I Setting

Determination of the place where the acts and activities occur--both physical and social environments. Includes the relationship between time and place.

II Acts

Behavior of relatively short duration carried out by the individual actor. Involves discrete pieces of behavior

III Activities

Behavior of longer duration carried out by the collectively and encompassing a wide range of individual acts.


Participant Observation and Complete Participation (cont.)

IV Meanings

Actor’s verbal interpretation of the acts and activities as a unit of analysis. Told by the actor, not interpreted by the researcher.

V Participation

Patterns of individual style in carrying out acts and activities. Focus is on the individual’s interpretation of their involvement by dress, demeanor or verbal style

VI Relationships

Patterns of interactions between participants creating styles of activities. Emphasis is on the interaction of participation styles.