Methods in Behavioral Research
Naturalistic observation is the method of the research commonly used by psychologists and other social scientists which involves observing the subjects in their natural environment where in most cases it is impossible or costly to conduct a lab research. Naturalistic observation is different from the structured observation because it entails studying the behaviors that occur in their natural state without the researchers interference. For example, the researchers interested in discovering behavioral aspects of a husband and a wife, a coach and players, students and teachers, will implement a naturalistic observation for their study. Therefore, the scientist will be able to look at the behavior of interest as they occur in their natural state.
In addition, research psychologists can collect data in quantitative and qualitative forms. The quantitative form is represented numerically in means, percentages, measurements, etc. Consequently, the researcher can determine the extent of some behavior or disposition, for example, a person or a given group that suffer from depression.
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Qualitative research is less manipulated and can be performed in a number of ways. As a matter of fact, the purpose of qualitative and quantitative research method differs in the sense that qualitative research occurs during an overall appreciation of a phenomenon and generates the targeted ideas or findings. Therefore, a quantitative analysis gives a description of an idea or explanation.
Naturalistic observation is, thus, a qualitative type of research because it involves the collection of data from a phenomenon by focusing on the groups. Moreover, it has become a trend used by the service industry firms such as advertising companies which get feedback about peoples attitude towards the offered services in the form of surveys and interviews. Finally, naturalistic observation involves studying people in their natural state concentrating on a group of individuals or participating in the experiment oneself in such a way examining them and their behavior.
Participant observation occurs when the observer gets involved in the ongoing activities and goes beyond naturalistic observation. Since the researcher forms a part of the team or becomes a member oneself focusing on the subject of the issue, the scientist gets engaged in the action. This method or technique is mostly used in anthropology and sociology studies. A good example embraces the cases when the researcher joins the police force or firefighters, enrolls in a cooking class, pretends to be a mental patient in the hospital. Besides, Jennifer Loise made a profound study on search and rescue volunteers.
Non-participant observation is where the researcher primarily appears as an observer from afar and makes no effort to join the group and become a part of it. Therefore, it is possible to understand the targeted idea or the result by implicating into the system and separating or secluding from the intended findings. The researcher implements this process during three stages such as descriptive observation, focused observation, and selected observation. Undoubtedly, non-participant observation leads to the best results when it is used collectively with other data collection methods that give more accurate conclusions of the target group. The researcher can collect data using this technique in a day, weeks and sometimes it might take several years.
Systematic observation is a study that eliminates or reduces biases. The rules are established beforehand to lower the interference. Moreover, most observation studies begin with the casual observation using systematic procedures afterward. Reliability of a systematic observation hails from several factors. Only certain behaviors connected to the research are considered, and further efforts are arranged to deal with the preconceived notion that could distort the observation findings. Evidently, systematic observation must be performed in a manner that permits others to repeat the same. As a result, if this does not happen, the findings are regarded as unreliable and scientifically invalid. Casual watching, for example, sitting in a park watching things and people randomly, is considered to be opposite to systematic observation. Furthermore, systematic observation is primarily quantitative because it requires a number of people who are brought together to observe and collect data presenting the same results. Thus, they represent data numerically in terms of means, percentages, measurements, etc.
When data is transformed into a form that a computer can read, it is referred to the coded data. An example of coded data will be the questionnaire results or interview findings that have been put in order to enable easy reading. In addition, the transformation of data should usually apply to the whole class. The data in quantitative analysis is typically coded into numerical findings measured and recorded per value or as statistical data. In the above example, information in a questionnaire can be pre-coded, field-coded, and post-coded in social science where spreadsheets such as Excel and Stata are often used. Undoubtedly, it is of substantial importance to understand the method of gaining the data before choosing the best way to code.
A case study is a report concerning a group of people, individuals or events that have been encountered and studied for some time. A case study can be an activity or an inquest into a problem that affects the real life situations. This research usually requires students, researchers, and trainees to analyze given scenarios or prescribed cases and think of the findings and solutions. Moreover, they have to support their interpretations with the reasons they discovered. Thus, in simplistic terms, a case study is a research that tends to identify the topic, learn it, and support it with the reasons and facts from the case context. Psychobiography is the study invented by Sigmund Freud that incorporates both psychology and biography. Furthermore, the researcher studied Leonardo da Vinci's psychology and biography. Usually, this study is implemented in the research and analysis of the influential people.
Archival research is a study that involves primary sources found in the archives, libraries, handwritten manuscripts, electronic manuscripts, published documents and records of any form including the objects and sounds. This research normally involves searching and producing the evidence from initial storage places such as the records stored in archives or the governmental and non-governmental organizations, business, family or other agencies that originally generated or accumulated the data. In contrast to the archival research, there is a secondary research, for instance, a study undertaken online. However, archival research is considered to be complex and time-consuming. Thus, preference is given to the secondary research.
Content analysis is a method used to summarize content in any form and make it simple to interpret. The content can be acquired from the audio, manuscripts, written records, etc. Furthermore, content analysis can be implemented manually or with the assistance of technology such as the computer. Additionally, content analysis is performed quantitatively with the results put in numbers and percentages. Finally, a time content analysis can be more subtle and often focuses on the written words.
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