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Research Methodology - Observation

CHARACTERISTICS OF OBSERVATION

   Posted On :  26.05.2018 05:50 am

Scientific observation differs from other methods of data collection specifically in four ways:

CHARACTERISTICS OF OBSERVATION
 
 
Scientific observation differs from other methods of data collection specifically in four ways: (i) observation is always direct while other methods could be direct or indirect; (ii) field observation takes place in a natural setting; (iii) observation tends to be less structured; and (iv) it makes only the qualitative (and not the quantitative) study which aims at discovering subjects’ experiences and how subjects make sense of them (phenomenology) or how subjects understand their life (interpretivism).
 
Lofland (1955) has said that this method is more appropriate for studying lifestyles or sub-cultures, practices, episodes, encounters, relationships, groups, organizations, settlements and roles etc. Black and Champion (1976) have given the following characteristics of observation:
 
1. Behavior is observed in natural surroundings.
2. It enables understanding significant events affecting social relations of the participants.
3. It determines reality from the perspective of observed person himself.
4. It identifies regularities and recurrences in social life by comparing data in our study with that of other studies.
 
Besides, four other characteristics are:
 
1. Observation involves some control pertaining to the observation and to the means he uses to record data. However, such controls do not exist for the setting or the subject population.
2. It is focused on hypotheses-free inquiry.
3. It avoids manipulations in the independent variable i.e., one that is supposed to cause other variable(s) and is not caused by them.
4. Recording is not selective.

Since at times, observation technique is indistinguishable from experiment technique, it is necessary to distinguish the two.

 

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