What Is Naturalistic Observation Psychology Essay


Naturalistic observation which sometimes called field work or field observation occurs when a researcher observes a person or group in their natural habitat while restricting their own effect on the individual or group. Cozby and Bates (2012) highlighted that in a naturalistic observation, a researcher makes observations of people in their natural environment. Cozby and Bates (2012) also emphasized that both humans and animals could be used as subjects of natural observation. This research approach originated in the field of anthropology and it is commonly used in the social sciences to investigate many phenomena in all types of social and organizational settings (Cozby & Bates, 2012). A prime example of naturalistic observation would be observing caretakers of children in public places which can yield large amounts of information.

When conducting a naturalistic observation research, researchers rely on one or more observers entering a specific research environment. Subsequently, they observe the behavior and record it in a respectable fashion. When collecting the data, it is imperative that researchers try not to change or manipulate the behavior that they are observing. Cozby and Bates pointed out that naturalistic observation studies have high external validity in which the results of a study can be generalized or extended to others. For instance, behaviors observing in monkeys in Africa tend to be similar to those in other natural situations.

2-Why are the data is naturalistic observation research primarily qualitative?

This research is primarily qualitative because they are descriptions of the observations themselves rather than quantitative statistical summaries. The sole purpose of this research method is to provide an accurate description and objective interpretation with no prior hypothesis (Cozby & Bates). The foremost responsibility of the researcher is to describe the settings, events and persons observed but at the end the researcher must analyze the observed behavior and provide accurate explanation of the collected data to make them understandable.

3-Distinguish between participant and nonparticipant observation; between concealed and no concealed observation.

According to Cozby and Bates, a participant observer plays an active role, an inside role in which the observer can examine the setting from within and has the opportunity to experience events in the same manner as natural participants. Nevertheless, a major problem associated with this type of observation is that the observer may lose the objectivity necessary to carry out scientific observation. On the other hand, a nonparticipant observer does not engage in any active part of the setting. Concealed observation

Concealed observation is conducted the individuals being studied are unaware that their behaviors are being observed and recorded. Cozby and Bates emphasized that this type of observation is highly recommended because the behavior of those being studied will not be influence by the observer’s behavior. However, from an ethical point of view, Cozby and Bates underlined that nonconcealed observation which is observation done where a participant observer is nonconcealed to certain members of the group is preferable. Nonconcealed observation is preferable for various reasons because the observer does not have to conceal his or her presence to listen to people’s conversation without their consent which can be considered as the invasion of privacy. Overall, it is imperative to point out that the decision of whether an observer to conceal his or her identity relies solely on both ethical concerns, the setting and the particular group being studied (Cozby & Bates).

4- What is systematic observation? Why are data the data from systematic observation primarily quantitative?

According to Cozby and Bates (2011) “systematic observation refers to the careful observation of one or more specific behaviors in a particular setting” (p. 118). As compared to naturalistic observation, systematic observation is much less global.

Data from systematic observation are primarily quantitative because the observations are quantifiable and prior hypotheses about the behaviors usually developed by the researchers before conducting the observation.

5- What is a coding system? What are some important considerations when developing a coding system?

A coding system is a system that researchers can make use of to characterize numbers or letters in transmitting messages. Researchers use this method to measure behaviors. Researchers use coding systems in both systematic observation and content analysis so they can quantify the information in the documents.

6- What is a case study? When are case studies used? What is a psychobiography?

A) A case study is an observational method in which a particular event, program and individual is studied in dept for a define period of time. In a case study, a researcher gathers plenty of information on the program, event and individual on which the investigation is focused. Such data retrieved from interviews, observation, newspapers or articles, audiotapes, videotapes and photographs (Leedy & Ormrod, 2010).

B) Case studies are used when researchers want to learn about more about a little known or poorly understood situation. For instance, Cozby and Bates highlighted that a case is conducted when individual has a particularly rare, unusual or noteworthy condition. The results of a case study can inform the public of conditions that are uncommon or rare and “thus providing unique information about some psychological phenomenon such as language, memory or social exchange” (Cozby & Bates, 2012).

C) Psychobiography is a type of case study in which researchers use psychological theory to provide a valid explanation about a person’s life, which is usually an important historical figure.

7-What is archival research? What are the major sources of archival data?

A) Archival research is generally the study of previous information. In this type of research, researchers use previously compiled information to provide answers to research questions. Cozby and Bates stated that when conducting an archival research, the researcher uses information that was previously published such as statistics that are included in public records (e.g., number of reported violent crimes committed by juveniles). Researchers can also use peer reviewed articles, the internet, books and the library information system to obtain information for an archival research. Cozby and Bates also pointed out that there are three types of Archival research data, such as surveys archives, statistical records and written records. According to Leedy and Ormrod, conducting Archival research is advantageous because the researcher would spend less money on collecting data and would have more time and energy to focus on re-analyze the previously collected data. Furthermore, archival research minimizes the concern of the institutional review board. Nevertheless, there are certain advantageous associated with this type of report. For example, the information collected may not be in a format that can be used to answer the interested questions. Also, the information may not consist of measures that match up to current literature (Leedy & Ormrod, 2010).

8- What is content analysis?

A) “A content analysis is a systematic examination of the contents of a particular body of material for the purpose of identifying patterns, themes or biases” (Leedy & Ormrod, 2010). Generally, a researcher systematically examines existent documents to make a conclusion. For instance, a researcher may use books, films, newspapers, television, music and even human interactions to make a determination about a phenomenon, such as to conclude whether television commercials reflect traditional sex-role stereotypes. In a content analysis examination researchers are required to develop coding systems just like it is necessary for systematic observation in order to quantify the data in the documents (Cozby & Bates, 2012).

When conducting a content analysis, either as a sole methodology or with other research designs, a researcher should include the following:

A description of the body of the material being investigated

Exact definitions and descriptions of the characteristics that the researcher is looking for

The rating or coding procedure

Tabulation for each characteristic, and

A description of patterns that the data reflect (Leedy & Ormrod, 2010).




Approximately 250 words