Chapter 12 Observational Research OBSERVATIONAL RESEARCH Naturalistic observation

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Chapter 12: Observational Research

Chapter 12: Observational Research

OBSERVATIONAL RESEARCH • Naturalistic observation • Describing behaviors in natural settings • Observer is

OBSERVATIONAL RESEARCH • Naturalistic observation • Describing behaviors in natural settings • Observer is unobtrusive, or • Habituation assumed • e. g. , with animal observations (Goodall example) • Examples: • Snack selection at movie theaters • Gender differences in fighting behaviors at a bar • Helping behaviors in a preschool setting

THE RESEARCH SETTING: NATURAL AND CONTRIVED SETTINGS • Natural setting – A location or

THE RESEARCH SETTING: NATURAL AND CONTRIVED SETTINGS • Natural setting – A location or site where a behavior of interest normally occurs • Researcher does not have to arrange or manipulate the setting • Making observations can be difficult • Contrived setting, or structured setting – A location or site arranged to mimic the natural setting within which a behavior of interest normally occurs • Control factors that are impossible to control in natural setting; facilitate occurrence of a behavior

TECHNIQUES FOR CONDUCTING NATURALISTIC OBSERVATION • Making unobtrusive observations • Unobtrusive observation: Observe behavior

TECHNIQUES FOR CONDUCTING NATURALISTIC OBSERVATION • Making unobtrusive observations • Unobtrusive observation: Observe behavior in a way that does not interfere with or change a participant’s behavior in a research setting • Remain hidden • Habituate participants to the researcher • Use a confederate • Use indirect measures Ethical considerations?

OBSERVATIONAL RESEARCH • Naturalistic observation • Participant observation • Experimenter joins group being observed

OBSERVATIONAL RESEARCH • Naturalistic observation • Participant observation • Experimenter joins group being observed • e. g. , Festinger’s study of a cult • Data recording problems • Ethical issues • Experimenters changing the group

QUALITATIVE RESEARCH DESIGNS • Common pitfalls associated with participant observation • The “eager speaker”

QUALITATIVE RESEARCH DESIGNS • Common pitfalls associated with participant observation • The “eager speaker” bias • The “good citizen” bias • The “stereotype” bias • To gain entry into a group or culture without causing participants to react or change their behavior: • Researchers can covertly enter a group • Researchers can announce or request entry into a group

QUALITATIVE RESEARCH DESIGNS • Case study – Analysis of an individual, group, organization, or

QUALITATIVE RESEARCH DESIGNS • Case study – Analysis of an individual, group, organization, or event used to illustrate a phenomenon, explore new hypotheses, or compare the observations of many cases • Case history: An in-depth description of the history and background of the individual, group, or organization observed.

QUALITATIVE RESEARCH DESIGNS • Three types of case studies • Illustrative: Investigates rare or

QUALITATIVE RESEARCH DESIGNS • Three types of case studies • Illustrative: Investigates rare or unknown cases • Exploratory: Preliminary analysis that explores potentially important hypotheses • Collective: Compares the individual analysis of many related cases • A case study, while qualitative in design, can be used to measure quantitative data

OBSERVATIONAL RESEARCH • Challenges facing observational methods • Absence of control • But falsification

OBSERVATIONAL RESEARCH • Challenges facing observational methods • Absence of control • But falsification of strong claims possible • Observer bias • Use of behavior checklists • Interobserver reliability • Participant reactivity • Use of unobtrusive measures helps • Ethics • Consent and privacy issues

OBSERVATIONAL RESEARCH • Research example • Naturalistic observation in a science museum • Consent

OBSERVATIONAL RESEARCH • Research example • Naturalistic observation in a science museum • Consent obtained (unusual in observational research) • Event sampling used • Results parents (Dads and Moms) explain science concepts more to their sons than to their daughters

AN OVERVIEW OF SURVEY DESIGNS • Survey research design – The use of a

AN OVERVIEW OF SURVEY DESIGNS • Survey research design – The use of a survey, administered either in written form or orally, to quantify, describe or characterize an individual or a group • Survey: Series of questions or statements, called items, used in a questionnaire or an interview to measure the self-reports or responses of respondents • A survey can also be called a questionnaire or self-report because many surveys specifically include questions in which participants report about themselves – their attitudes, opinions, beliefs, activities, emotions, and so on

TYPES OF SURVEY ITEMS • The questions or statements in a survey often called

TYPES OF SURVEY ITEMS • The questions or statements in a survey often called items • Open-ended items: Allows the respondent to give any response in his or her own words, without restriction • Most often used with qualitative research design • Researchers develop ways to code participant responses • Anticipate and list all possible examples of potential responses in terms of how participants might write or express their responses

TYPES OF SURVEY ITEMS • Partially open-ended items: Includes a few restricted answer options

TYPES OF SURVEY ITEMS • Partially open-ended items: Includes a few restricted answer options and then a last one that allows participants to respond in their own words in case the few restricted options do not fit with the answer they want to give • Researchers can code each answer option as a number • The last open-ended option could be coded further or just analyzed without further coding

TYPES OF SURVEY ITEMS • Restricted items: A question or statement in a survey

TYPES OF SURVEY ITEMS • Restricted items: A question or statement in a survey that includes a restricted number of answer options to which participants must respond • Likert scale: A numeric response scale used to indicate a participant’s rating or level of agreement with a question or statement • The main advantage is that survey responses can be easily entered or coded for statistical analysis • The main limitation is that the analysis is restricted to the finite number of options provided to participants • Ex. I have nightmares: (Circle one) 1 2 3 Never Sometimes Often

RULES FOR WRITING SURVEY ITEMS • 1. Keep it simple • Ex. Instead of

RULES FOR WRITING SURVEY ITEMS • 1. Keep it simple • Ex. Instead of asking “How satiated do you feel? ”, it would be better to ask “How full do you feel? ” • 2. Avoid double-barreled items – Items that ask two different questions simultaneously • Ex. I enjoy the time we spend together and dislike the time we are apart 1 Strongly disagree 2 3 4 5 Strongly agree • 3. Use neutral or unbiased language – Do not use language that is offensive; responses may be in reaction to the language used • Ex. Identify persons 18 years and older as women and men, capitalize Black and White to identify racial groups

RULES FOR WRITING SURVEY ITEMS • 4. Minimize the use of negative wording –

RULES FOR WRITING SURVEY ITEMS • 4. Minimize the use of negative wording – The use of words that negates or indicates the opposite of what was otherwise described • Ex. “How much do you not like working? ” can be rephrased to “How much do you dislike working? ” • 5. Avoid the response set pitfall – Tendency for participants to respond the same way to all items in a survey when the direction of ratings is the same for all items in the survey • Reverse coded item: Item that is phrased in the semantically opposite direction of most other items in a survey, and is scored by coding or entering responses for the item in reverse order from how they are listed • “I feel happy most of the time” • “I feel sad most of the time” • 6. Use rating scales consistently – Use only one rating scale at a time. In the simplest scenario, use only one scale if possible

RULES FOR WRITING SURVEY ITEMS • 7. Limit the points on a rating scale

RULES FOR WRITING SURVEY ITEMS • 7. Limit the points on a rating scale – Keep the scale between 3 and 10 points. • Unless using dichotomous scales in which only two responses are possible • Ex. True/false, yes/no, agree/disagree • 8. Label or anchor the rating scale points –Anchors: Adjectives given to describe the end points of a rating scale to give the scale greater meaning • 9. Minimize survey length – Write the survey to be as short and concise as possible, yet still able to convey what is intended to measure

ADMINISTERING SURVEYS • Written surveys • In-person surveys: More participants are willing to complete

ADMINISTERING SURVEYS • Written surveys • In-person surveys: More participants are willing to complete a survey administered in person but this method is more time-consuming • Mail surveys: Higher rates of respondents choosing not to complete and return but requires less of the researcher’s time • Internet surveys: Popular and cost effective. Main concern is that results may be limited to individuals who have access to computers with online capabilities and to individuals who know enough about using computers

SURVEY RESEARCH n n Samples vs. populations Biased vs. representative samples n n Self

SURVEY RESEARCH n n Samples vs. populations Biased vs. representative samples n n Self selection bias Probability sampling n Random sampling • Each member of pop. has equal chance of being selected as member of sample

SURVEY RESEARCH • Probability sampling Stratified • Stratified sampling • Separate individuals according to

SURVEY RESEARCH • Probability sampling Stratified • Stratified sampling • Separate individuals according to some important variable (strata), then randomly sample some individuals from each stratum • Cluster sampling • Identify natural/convenient clusters • randomly select a cluster of individuals all having some feature in common Example: Wages in Brooklyn Cluster

SURVEY RESEARCH • Nonprobability sampling • Does NOT provide representative samples, but are easier

SURVEY RESEARCH • Nonprobability sampling • Does NOT provide representative samples, but are easier to do • Convenience sampling • Select subjects who are available and convenient (e. g. , Introductory Psychology “subject pool”) • Quota sampling • Snowball sampling • Ask subjects to get their acquaintances to participate • Often done with online surveys