Naturalistic Observation Research Paper

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This approach was used by Leon Festinger in a famous study into a religious cult who believed that the end of the world was about to occur.

He joined the cult and studied how they reacted when the prophecy did not come true.

Natural observations are less reliable as other variables cannot be controlled.

This makes it difficult for another researcher to repeat the study in exactly the same way. A further disadvantage is that the researcher needs to be trained to be able to recognise aspects of a situation that are psychologically significant and worth further attention. With observations we do not have manipulations of variables (or control over extraneous variables) which means cause and effect relationships cannot be established.

In general observations, are relatively cheap to carry out and few resources are needed by the researcher.

However, they can often be very time consuming and longitudinal.

On the other hand, overt is where the researcher reveals his or her true identity and purpose to the group and asks permission to observe. It can be difficult to get time / privacy for recording.

For example, with covert observations researchers can’t take notes openly as this would blow their cover.

This technique involves observing involves studying the spontaneous behavior of participants in natural surroundings.

The researcher simply records what they see in whatever way they can.


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