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Case Studies and Observational Research

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Observational Research Passer Chapter 6 Slides Prepared by Alison L. O Malley Case Studies In-depth analysis of an individual, social unit, or event Remember ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Case Studies and Observational Research


1
Case Studies and Observational
Research
  • Passer Chapter 6
  • Slides Prepared by Alison L. OMalley

2
Case Studies
  • In-depth analysis of an individual, social unit,
    or event
  • Remember Phineas Gage?
  • How do psychological scientists conducting case
    studies acquire their data?

3
Case Studies Concerns
  • Difficulty drawing causal conclusions
  • Generalizability of findings
  • Potential for observer bias
  • How can these concerns be overcome?

4
Observer Bias Expectations can color perception
5
Observational Research
  • Umbrella term for various types of
    nonexperimental research designs wherein trained
    observers record ongoing behavior
  • Qualitative, quantitative, or mixed-methods
    approaches
  • As opposed to case studies, involve multiple
    participants

6
Observational Research
Naturalistic observation Participant
observation Structured observation
7
Naturalistic Observation
  • Researcher(s) strive for little to no interaction
    with participants
  • Disguised participants are not aware theyre
    being observed
  • Undisguised participants know theyre being
    observed

Im watching you!
8
Naturalistic Observation
  • Behavior examined in ecologically valid (i.e.,
    real life) conditions
  • But research design lacks control and some data
    may be overlooked
  • Reactivity occurs when behavior is altered
    through the process of being observed
  • Must remain mindful of APA Ethics Code
  • When are researchers permitted to forego informed
    consent?

9
Participant Observation
  • Researchers embed themselves in the phenomena of
    interest
  • Disguised vs. undisguised distinction still
    applies participants may not know researchers
    are among them
  • Ethnographic approaches are qualitative and
    incorporate interviews to develop a narrative of
    the research topic

10
Participant Observation
  • Critical Questions
  • Is participant observation more or less subject
    to reactivity than naturalistic observation?
  • Is disguised participant observation ethical?

11
Structured Observation
  • Researchers tweak the research setting,
    influencing what happens when
  • Sometimes called analogue behavioral observation
    in keeping with goal of creating analogues of
    naturally occurring situations
  • Affords more efficiency and control compared to
    other forms of observational research, but
    greater potential for reactivity

12
Recording Observations
  • Narrative records extensive description of
    behavior as it unfolds
  • Field notes less comprehensive records of
    behavior
  • Behavioral coding systems categorize behaviors
    into mutually exclusive categories
  • Discuss whether each approach is more qualitative
    or quantitative.

13
Recording Observations
  • Develop a coding scheme for handshakes. Make sure
    that each category is accompanied by a clear
    operational definition.

14
Recording Observations
  • Supplements to ongoing behavioral observations
  • Rating and ranking scales observers evaluate
    participants standing on various dimensions
  • Diaries participants observe and record their
    own behaviors

15
What observational research strategy is used
here? What sort of research questions could this
researcher answer based upon her data?
16
Sampling Behavior
  • Obtaining representative data without recording
    everything and everyone!
  • Focal sampling Focus on one participant at a
    time
  • Scan sampling Observe everyone for a short
    period of time at predetermined intervals
  • Situation sampling Observe behavior across
    multiple settings
  • Time sampling Conduct observations over
    representative set of time periods

17
Practice Question
  • Questions of external validity pervade
    observational research. Which sampling strategy
    may be regarded as the most externally valid?
  • Time sampling
  • Scan sampling
  • Focal sampling
  • Situation sampling

18
Overcoming Observer Bias
  • Well-developed coding system
  • Observer training
  • Blind observation
  • Verify reliability of observer practices

Poor interrater reliability ?!
6.5
10
3.0
4.5
19
Avoiding Reactivity
  • Disguised observation (an extreme form of
    unobtrusive measurement)
  • Habituation
  • Physical trace measures
  • Archival records

Archives
20
Closing Considerations
  • How can observational research, correlational
    research, and experimental research work in
    concert to help satisfy the goals of science?
  • Description
  • Explanation
  • Prediction
  • Control
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