This Essay Will Evaluate The Use Of Observation As A Method

1388 WordsMay 15, 20176 Pages
This essay will evaluate the use of observation as a method of study within psychology. Initially, the essay will discuss the two traditional methods of investigation which are experimentation and observation, before undertaking a deeper examination of the observational method itself. It will then consider where the use of the observational method has proven successful, with supporting evidence of research in which it played a key role. In closing, the limitations of the observational method in psychological research will be considered together with why other techniques have to be contemplated when conducting research. Two traditional methods used in psychological research are the experimental method and the observational method. In the…show more content…
An example of participant observation is research by Festinger (1956), into a religious cult and their reaction when a doomsday prophecy they believed in failed to come true. Examining both of these methods, experimental psychology has received criticism especially in its use of the laboratory setting. The laboratory experimental setting is considered by some as being too controlled, meaning behaviour studied may be artificial and therefore, not generalisable beyond the laboratory setting. Further criticisms include confounding variables such as 'demand characteristics ', may impact upon results. Demand characteristics occur when participants develop ideas of the purpose of the experiment and alter behaviour accordingly. Furthermore, the experimental method is hampered by its inability to study naturally occurring behaviour which occurs would be considered 'unethical ' to study if artificially created. For example, Oates (2012), cites concerns over the effects of participation in research of young children, who may be detrimentally affected by being exposed to things which they would not encounter in their day to day living. One possible way to avoid some of these criticisms and problems is using observational methods. Observation is one of the most common
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