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6 Observation Research
Nature of Observation Research • Observation research: systematic process of recording patterns of occurrences or behaviors without normally communicating with the people involved. • Or the systematic process of recording the behavioral patterns of people, objects, and occurrences as they are witnessed.
When is observation scientific? Observation becomes a tool for scientific inquiry when it • serves a formulated research purpose • is planned systematically • is recorded systematically and related to general propositions rather than simply reflecting a set of interesting curiosities • is subjected to checks or controls on validity and reliability.
What can be observed? Phenomenon Example Physical action A shopper’s movement pattern in a store Verbal behavior Statements made by airline travelers while waiting in line Expressive behavior Facial expressions, tone of voices, and other forms of body language Spatial relations and locations How close visitors at an art museum stand to paintings Temporal patterns How long fast-food customers wait for their orders to be served Physical objects What brand-name items are stored in customers’ pantries Verbal and pictorial records Bar codes on product packages
Condition for Using Observation 1. The needed info. must be either observable/inferable from behavior that is observable. 2. The behavior of interest must be repetitive, frequent, or in some manner predictable. Otherwise, the costs of observation may make the approach prohibitively expensive. 3. The behavior of interest must be relatively short duration. Ex: Observation of the entire decision-making process for purchasing new home might take several weeks, or months, is not feasible.
Approaches to Observation Research Situations Example People watching people Observers stationed in supermarkets watch consumers select frozen Mexican dinners, with the purpose of seeing how much comparison shopping people do at the point of purchase. People watching phenomena Observers stationed at an intersection count vehicles moving in various directions to establish the need for a traffic light. Machines watching people Movie/video cameras record consumers selecting frozen Mexican dinners. Machines watching phenomena Traffic-counting machines monitor the flow of vehicles at an intersection.
Dimensions along with Observation Approaches • • • Natural vs. Contrived Situation Open vs. Disguised Observation Structured vs. Unstructured Observation Human vs. Machine Observers Direct vs. Indirect Observation
Dimensions along with Observation Approaches Natural • The observer play no role in the behavior of interest. Those being observed should have no idea that they are under observation. • Ex: counting how many people use the drive-in window at a particular bank during certain hours. Contrived • Ex: recruiting people to do their shopping in a simulated supermarket so that their behavior can be carefully observed. • In this case, the recruited people must be given at least some idea that they are participating in a study.
Dimensions along with Observation Approaches Open • If people know they are being observed, they may behave differently. • The appearance and behavior of the observer offers a potential for bias similar to that associated with the presence of an interviewer in survey research. Disguised • The process of monitoring people who do not know they are being watched. • A common form is observing behavior from behind a one-way mirror i. e. during focus group discussion.
Dimensions along with Observation Approaches Structured Unstructured • Study in which the observer fills out a questionnaire-like form on each person or event observed or counts the number of times a behavior or activity occurs. • Study in which the observer simply makes notes on the behavior or actively being observed.
Dimensions along with Observation Approaches Human vs. Machine observer • In some situations, it is possible and even desirable to replace human observers with machines can do the job less expensively, more accurately, or more readily. • Ex: Traffic-counting devices are certainly more willing than human observer. • Movie cameras and audio visual equipment record behavior in people’s homes to record TV viewing habits. • Electronic scanners in retail stores.
Dimensions along with Observation Approaches Direct Indirect • Observation of current behavior • Observation of past behavior i. e. the consumer actual product usage
Advantages of Observation Research • First hand info. is not subject to many biasing factors associated with the survey approach especially the willingness and ability of respondents to answer questions. • Some form of data are gathered more quickly and accurately by observation i. e. scanner record the items in a grocery bag.
Disadvantages of Observation Research • Only behavior and physical personal characteristics usually can be examined. The researcher does not learn about motives, attitudes, intentions, or feelings. • Present observed behavior may not be projectable into the future. The fact that a consumer purchases a certain brand of milk after examine several alternatives does not mean that he/she will continue do so in the future. • Observation research can be time-consuming and costly if the observed behavior occurs rather infrequently.
Human Observation • • Ethnographic Research Mystery Shoppers One-Way Mirror Observations Audits
Human Observation Ethnographic Research • Study of human behavior in its context, involving observation of behavior and physical setting.
Human Observation Mystery Shoppers • People who pose as consumers and shop at a company’s own stores or those of its competitors to collect data about customeremployee interactions and to gather observational data; they may also compare prices displays, and the like.
Human Observation 4 Basic Level of Mystery Shopping Concept: 1. Conducts a mystery telephone call with the scripted conversation evaluates the level of service received over the phone 2. Visits an establishment and make quick purchase (little/no customer-employee interaction) evaluates the transaction and image of the facility 3. Visits and establishment and using a script/scenario, initiates a conversation with a service/or sales representative (not involve an actual purchase) reviews services provided by sales rep. 4. Performs a visit that requires excellent communication skills and knowledge of the product
Human Observation Objectives of Mystery Shoppers: • Measuring employee training • Preparing for new competition • Monitoring the competition through comparison shopping • Recognizing good employees
Human Observation One-Way Mirror Observations • Practice of watching behaviors or activities from behind a one-way mirror.
Human Observation Audits • Examination and verification of sales of a product. – Retail audits: measure sales to final consumers – Wholesale audits: determine the amount of product movement from warehouses to retailers Wholesalers and retailers allow auditors into their stores and stockrooms to examine the company’s sales and order records in order to verify product flows. In turn, the retailers and wholesalers receive cash compensation and basic reports about their operations from audit firms.
Machine Observation • • Traffic Counters Physiological Measurement Devices Opinion and Behavior Measurement Devices Scanner-Based Research
Machine Observation Traffic Counters • Machines used to measure vehicular flow over a particular stretch of roadway.
Machine Observation Physiological Measurement Devices • When an individual is aroused/feels inner tension or alterness, his/her condition is referred to as activation. • Researchers have used a number of devices to measure the level of a person’s activation.
Machine Observation Physiological Measurement Devices • Electroencephalograph: machine that measures electrical pulses on the scalp and generates a record of electrical activity in the brain. • Galvanic skin response (GSR): change in the electric resistance of the skin associated with activation responses; also called electrodermal response.
Machine Observation Physiological Measurement Devices • Pupilometer: machine that measures changes in pupil dilation. • Voice pitch analysis: studying changes in the relative vibration frequency of the human voice to measure emotion.
Machine Observation Opinion and Behavior Measurement Devices • People reader: machine that simultaneously records the respondent’s reading material and eye reactions. • Rapid Analysis Measurement System (RAMS): hand-held device that allows respondents to record how they are feeling by turning a dial. • Global Positioning System (GPS) technology
Machine Observation Opinion and Behavior Measurement Devices • People meter: components of a microwave computerized rating system, used to measure national TV audiences, that transmits demographic info. overnight. It provides info. on what TV shows are being watched, the number of households watching, and which family member are watching.
Machine Observation Scanner-Based Research: • A type of consumer panel in which participants’ purchasing habits are recorded with a laser scanner than a purchase diary.