Observation Method

The observation method is the most commonly used in order to study behaviour. In this method the information is sought by way of investigators on direct observation without asking from the respondents. The observer should not change any of the variables nor he should create anything artificially. 

Structured and Unstructured Observation:

While using observation method, the observer must be aware of what to observe? How to observe? And how accurate will be the observation. If the observer is following all these rules, his observation is termed as Structured Observation. If the observation is carried out without these characteristics then it is called an Unstructured Observation.

Participant and Non Participant Type of Observation:

Observation can be done playing a role of participant, where he actively participates in the group discussion apart from observing the concerned person; this is called as Participant Type Observation. Whereas the work of the observer of done passively, that is without participating along the group is called as Non Participant Type of Observation.

Controlled and Uncontrolled Observation:

If the observation takes place in a natural setting, then it is called Uncontrolled Observation. Whereas it takes  place according to definite pre arranged plans involving experimental procedure, then it is termed as Controlled Observation. The main drawback of the Uncontrolled Observation is about subjective interpretation, where as Controlled Observation has a tendency to supply formalized data upon with generalization could be made with assurance.

Merits of Observation Method:

  • Subjective bias is eliminated if the observation is done accurately. 
  • Observer gets the information of currently happening.
  • The observer is able to record the natural behaviour of the concerned individual or group.
  • The observer can gather information which could not easily be obtained if he observes in a disinterested fashion. 
  • The observer can verify the truth of the statements made by information in the context of a questionnaire or a schedule.
  • Independent of respondent's willingness to respond and less demanding of active co-operation on the past of respondents.
  • This method is particularly suitable in studies which deal with subjects who are not capable of giving variable reports of their feelings for one reason or the other.  

Demerits of Observation Method:

  • It is a very expensive method in terms of time as well as money.
  • Information provided by this method is very limited.
  • Sometimes unforeseen factors may interfere with the observation task.
  • Observer may loose the objectivity to the extent he involves himself emotionally. 

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