The Role Of Observation In Psychological

The Role Of Observation In Psychological

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The Role Of Observation In Psychological

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The Role Of Observation In Psychological

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Discuss about the Role of Observation in Psychological Research.

Observation is a method that is always used by different psychologists when conducting their research. Observation as a method can be understood as a systematic data collection approach which entails the researcher’s use of all senses in the physical and naturally occurring environments. Psychology is always studied under a social phenomenon or setting. When psychological researches are carried out, the researcher will always carry on the ground, probably through human being as the specimen for the research or living non-human being, animals (Leary, 2016, p.94). This will entail setting of experiments, careful consideration of the occasion and lastly, observation of the observable behaviour. Therefore, observation in psychological research, as a social science entails watching what people do. It becomes a type of correlation in psychological research whereby the researcher takes an initiative to observe the ongoing behaviour in a natural setting.
The roles of observation in psychological research
Observation helps in validating the assumptions that are made in psychology. There are some conclusions that are always made from conducted interviews, or through other research methods. When observation method is used, it validates what people say they are into what they really are (Taylor, Bogdan and Vault, 2015, p.106). An example of this observation method would be the observation with intervention where the observer carries out his/her research with an intervention to achieve something or validate what other people have said through perceived theory.
For instance, Bandura et al., (1963) experiment on investigating the influence of watching aggressive content in the media can demonstrate a crucial role of observation. When Bandura and his team are carrying out the experiment, they have a perception that aggressive media content has an influence on the behaviour of the children. The findings are subjects of actual observation. When they are conditioning the children and holding together all the variables, their main intention is to make a firm observation.
However, Gunter, 2008 seems to deviate a bit from the findings of Bandura et al. (1963) and therefore giving another implication of validating the assumptions. When he talks about the correlation of Bandura’s findings basing his argument on chance, we get to see him carrying more observational research empirically to invalidate what Bandura had reached to.
From the two experiments, the role of observational research can rest on validating theories, giving facts and also criticizing what has not been empirically ascertained by the psychologists (Koenig and Eagly, 2014, p.371).
In psychological research, observation can be used to interpret the results of an experiment. Bandura (1963) research seems to have been carried out through real children, 20 of them and dolls. When he comes up with the findings based on the empirical evidence of his experiment, different psychologists after him have to interpret what he affirmed. Gunter (2008) and other psychologists of the 21st century like Bushman, and Huesmann, (2006) had to conduct some more observations so as they would be able to come up with more findings and recommendations on a certain behaviour such as aggression. For instance, Bushman made his observations through experiments in psychological research and later came with an explanation of aggression of children that is learned through a gradual process and it is either evident on short term or long term basis.
Some Types of psychological Research, and the role of Observation in Each
Descriptive Research
This is a type of research that involves observing, recording, describing and classifying a certain behaviour in the environment. This type of research is hypothetically based by means of experimentation. Psychologists use this method to test hypotheses. The main tool for this method is observation. Data that is needed for this type of research is merely collected and recorded from observing. For instance, Damon (1977), issue of friendship is descriptively researched. The type pf research conducted to see how children develop friendship and how they share and the loyalty they perceive is a matter of observing, recording data and finally describing the relationship.
On this issue, there is a case of ethnography in descriptive research. This involves the case where the researcher carries out extensive observations through involving him/herself in the group.
This can ass well be in the category of participant observation. A psychologist, for instance, when he wants to research on the effects of motivation in a certain organization, the researcher may go and stay there for some hours. He can decide also to go and mingle with the workers in their duties after maybe, an incentive has been given.
Consider the case of Donald E. Broadbent (1947) when he was a successful experimental psychologist and he is in the military researching about the effect of noise on performance. Donald was to be a part of the incidences that he could observe. Like for instance, when the pilot used the wrong lever to fly an aircraft due to the distraction of his attention. Finally, to describe the psychological behaviour in descriptive tre4search or ethnographic research is generally by a role of observation.
Experimental Research and the role of observation
It is an approach that is mostly in behavioral psychology. This approach is usually applied when investigating some psychological processes in learning, the behaviour of human beings and animals. Observation has a key role in this method. When researchers in psychology are investigating a behaviour or a psychological process, they have to apply observation so as to obtain the expected outcome. Proposers of this approach such as Wilhelm Wundt, Charles Bell, and Edward Titchener had to carry our real experiments with real specimen so as the mental process or behaviour investigated could be viewed and explained. Wundt or example had a laboratory from where he would conduct all his experiments.
Bandura et al. (1963) conducted such experiments with dolls and children All these were to ascertain the existing claims. In experimental psychology too, there is a process that is usually followed. When a psychologist sets up an experiment, like the one Bandura made, he has to explain what he is up to. One would hardly use a single approach consistently because, in such a situation, the descriptive research approaches will have to be applied. When the researcher is observing what the results are summing up to, he has to employ the observational skills (Berkowitz, 1993, p.91).
Observation is also a type of research in psychology. Since psychological research is a process of conducting a research and analyzing the collected data, this type uses observational approaches throughout in collection of the data required. It is an effective skill because the researcher can be able to observe behaviour without the consent of the researched.
Limitations of Observation in psychological Research
Though observation plays an important role in psychological research, it can fail to meet the expected results if careful measures are not made. One of the weaknesses of observation in research is that it can lead to a biased coding of the information from the clients or from the researcher. For instance, when a researcher is making the observation and he/she is not keen, he/she can be biased on the side that he wants to fix his results. For instance, When Bandura (1973) is observing the children and he has a hypothesis that aggression portrayed in media impacts the character of the children, he would have made many assumptions when making observations.
Another issue in observation in psychological research is that the past history of the clients or of the samples is not observable. There are things that are not observable if the researcher does not have a long relationship with the people or animals he is observing. For this reason, the conclusions may fail to achieve validity.
Observation is the main tool in psychological research. Research in psychology will always demand the researcher to engage directly with the subjects of the research, may it be human or animals. This will need careful observation and independent recording of the information. In Qualitative research method in psychology, for example, the researcher should be in a position to describe the actual behaviour that was evident in the field (Goodwin and Goodwin, 2016, p.207).
Observation for researchers conducting research is an active and continuous process. It is continuous because there is an aspect of change of behaviour. When the researcher notices a change of behaviour, he/she should be in a position to observe it and make the recommended description of the change. There would be no description of naturally occurring behaviour without observation (Gross, 2015, 58). It is the role of the observational skills that researchers use to make the findings. It can as well be noted that without observation in psychology, there would hardly be research in the discipline. 
Bandura, A. (1973) Aggression: a social learning analysis, Upper Saddle Place, NJ, Prentice Hall.
Bandura, A., Ross, D. and Ross, S.A. (1963) ‘Imitation of ?lm-mediated aggressive models’, Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, vol. 66 , no. 1, pp. 3–11.
Berkowitz, L. (1993) Aggression: Its Causes, Consequences, and Control, New York, NY, McGraw Hill.
Broadbent, D.E., 2013. Perception and communication. Elsevier.
Damon, W. (1977) The Social World of the Child, San Francisco, CA, Jossey-Bass.
Giles, D., 2013. Advanced research methods in psychology. Routledge.
Goodwin, C.J. and Goodwin, K.A., 2016. Research in psychology methods and design. John Wiley & Sons.
Gross, R., 2015. Psychology: The science of mind and behaviour 7th edition. Hodder Education.
Huesmann, L.R. (1998) ‘The role of social information processing and cognitive schema in the acquisition and maintenance of habitual aggressive behavior’ in Geen, R.G. and Donnerstein, E. (eds) Human Aggression: Theories, Research, and Implications for Policy, New York, NY, Academic Press.
Koenig, A.M. and Eagly, A.H., 2014. Evidence for the social role theory of stereotype content: Observations of groups’ roles shape stereotypes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 107(3), p.371.
Leary, M.R., 2016. Introduction to behavioral research methods. Pearson.
Mertens, D.M., 2014. Research and evaluation in education and psychology: Integrating diversity with quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods. Sage publications.
Taylor, S.J., Bogdan, R. and DeVault, M., 2015. Introduction to qualitative research methods: A guidebook and resource. John Wiley & Sons.

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