METHODS OF PSYCHOLOGY | observation | Characteristics of Good Observation | Observation Method | Types of Observation | Skip to main content
Sxce Psychology Don

Featured post


DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CLASSICAL AND OPERANT CONDITIONING Classical Conditioning Operant Conditioning 1.   The learner is not independent in this type of learning. 2.   Classical conditioning is restricted to animal learning only. 3.   Stimulus oriented. 4.  Learning through stimulus substitution.             5.   Behaviour is elicited. 6.   Reinforcement comes before the act. 7.   Response is forced. 8.   Developed by Russian (Pavlov) experiment. 1.   The learner is independent in this type of learning. 2.   Operant conditioning may be useful for the purpose of human learning also. 3.   Response oriented. 4.   Learning through response modification. 5.   Behaviour is emitted. 6.   Reinforcement comes after the act. 7.   Response is voluntary. 8.   Developed by American (Skinner) experiment   ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

METHODS OF PSYCHOLOGY | observation | Characteristics of Good Observation | Observation Method | Types of Observation |



            The observation method is the most commonly used method especially in studies relating to behavioural sciences. In a way we all observe things around us, but this sort of observation is not scientific observation. Observation becomes a scientific tool and a method of data collection for the researcher, when it serves a formulated research purpose, is systematically planned and recorded and is subjected to checks and controls on validity and reliability.

            Under the observation method, the information is sought by way of investigator’s own direct observation without asking the respondent. For instance, in a study relating to consumer behaviour, the investigator instead of asking the brand of wrist watch used by the respondent, may himself look at the watch.

Characteristics of Good Observation

            Observation, as a research data-gathering process, demands rigorous adherence to the spirit of scientific inquiry. The following standards should characterize observes and their observation:

1) Observation is carefully planned, systematic, and perceptive. Observes know what they are looking for and what is irrelevant in a situation. They are not distracted by the dramatic or the spectacular.

2) Observes are aware of the wholeness of what is observed. Although they are alert to significant details, they know that the whole is often greater than the sum of parts.

3) Observers are objective. They recognize their likely biases, and they strive to eliminate their influence upon what they see and report.

4) Observers separate the fact from the interpretation of the facts. They observe the facts and make their interpretation at a later time.

5) Observations are checked and verified, whenever possible by repetition or by comparison with those of other competent observes.

6) It is carefully and expertly recorded. They use appropriate instruments to systematize, quantify, and preserve the results of their observation.

7) They are collected in such a way as to make sure that they are valid and reliable.

            While using this method, the researcher should keep in mind things like: what should be observed? How the observations should be recorded? Or how the accuracy of observation can be ensured?

Types of Observation

Structured observation: 

In case the observation is characterized by a careful definition of the units to be observed, the style of recording the observed information, standardized conditions of observation and the selection of pertinent data of observation, then the observation is called as structured observation.

Unstructured observation: 

But when observation is to take place without these characteristics to be thought of in advance, the same is termed as unstructured observation.

Uncontrolled observation: 

If the observation takes place in the natural setting, it may be termed as uncontrolled observation.

Controlled observation: 

But when observation takes place according to definite pre-arranged plans, involving experimental procedure, the same is then termed as controlled observation. Generally, controlled observation takes place in various experiments that are carried out in a laboratory or under controlled conditions.

Non-controlled observation: 

In non-controlled observation, no attempt is made to use precision instruments. The major aim of this type of observation is to get a spontaneous picture of life and persons. It has a tendency to supply naturalness and completeness of behaviour, allowing sufficient time for observing it.

Procedure of Observation

· Planning Observation: Defining the objectives, purpose and the materials needed for the observation. Planning for the schedule, time duration, observation question, methods and so on

· During Observation: It is the ability of the observer in order to observe the possible living domain of the subject. According to the type of observation, recording the details immediately.  

·  Analyzing the Data Collected: After gathering the data, grouping, analyzing and summarizing the data must be done; so that the interpretation is possible.

· Interpreting the Data: This is the step of generalizing the observed data and interpretation. This will help to evaluate the subject objectively.

·  Generalize the Result: This is the step of arrive a conclusion and the conclusion may be generalized according to the need.

Advantages of Observation Method

1. Subjective bias is eliminated.

2. The information obtained under this method relates to what is currently happening; it is not complicated by either the past behaviour or future intensions or attitudes.

3. This method is independent of respondents’ willingness to respond and as such is relatively less demanding of active co-operation on the part of respondents as happens to be the case in the interview or the questionnaire method.

Notes By

Dr. A. Michael J Leo
Psychology Professor
St. Xavier's College of Education