Participant Observation Essay

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A type of qualitative research that allows study of real life behaviors is called participant observation. When conducting participant observation the researcher may actually participate as a functioning part of the unit or maintain a neutral position as an observer only. Maintaining neutrality can prove to be a challenge for some participating researchers. Berger reminds the interviewer to keep key questions in mind using who, what,when, where, and how. Fundamental factors in participant observation are the setting, participants, nature of the group, participants behavior, and frequencies of behavior. Observation is a path to obtaining information. Keep records of information by ways of annotation or through modern day technology with photography and video. Tally sheets can be used in recording types of behavior and the frequency in which they occur. Collected information will assist in the development and explanation of a hypothesis for the study.…show more content…
He warns against what he calls as mind reading which is assuming you know what people are thinking and why they are conducting themselves in a particular way. To avoid assumptions Berger suggest asking questions to clarify the reasons of why people did what they did. Remember that just because you are asking questions doesn’t guarantee you will receive truthful answers. The benefits of participant observation are discovering patterns and relationships while the environment makes it easier to ask questions and allows for various types of documentation. Berger goes on to explain that once documentation has been completed we must interpret our findings through means of theories, concepts, and behavior
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