Critical Thinking on the Observational Research

3 pages
655 words
University of California, Santa Barbara
Type of paper: 
Critical thinking
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Observational research is a non-experimental correlational approach which primarily capitalizes on data collection on the paradigms of observing the environmental aspects subjects to the parameters of interest. This method encompasses the naturalistic, controlled and the participants observation technicalities (Ostrov, & Hart, 2013). On the other hand, the experimental design is a quantitative research technique which envisages the aspects of subjecting the study subjects to different levels of treatment or conditions with the higher motive of testing the relationships effects between the dependents and independent variables. Technically, the observational research is presumed to be more of qualitative than quantitative since it embodies the attributes of observing the specific scenes of interest with the aim of developing notes that vividly describe the scene. A study which is more of qualitative and entailing the essence of observing either the subjects using semi structured or structured research instruments will always appear to be inclined to the observational approach as compared to the experimental design. It primarily happens due to the concern of evading the bias of judging the qualitative data entailing the subjects feelings, insights, opinions, locality, and atmosphere using the quantitative approach.

Naturalistic observation is an observational research technique which is mainly concerned with the spontaneous or radicalism of the behavioral aspects of the participant's environment. This approach is also regarded to as unstructured observation since it primarily encompasses the essence of the researcher recording any observable behavior regardless of the paradigms. The naturalistic approach exhibits some advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage of this method is that the approach is used to generate new ideologies since the researcher is presented with an opportunity of studying a situation thus the deductions made from the scene are authentic and also exhibit the ecological validity. However, this method is presumed to exhibit the limitation of the lack of reliability and generalizability since the observations are conducted from a small sample thus may lack representation due to sampling bias.

The observational research approach is critically more profound and poses significantly advantage to the researcher when collecting data on the subjects behavioral aspects. From the researchers post perspective, it is evident that the technique gives the observer an opportunity to interact with the study population on a low-key while making deductive notes on the aspects of interest. This proposition is scholarly supported Bordens and Abbott (2014) naturalistic observation concept which posits that the technique allows for unobtrusive observations which are a fundamental aspect in the authenticity and accuracy of the collected data. Notably, the researcher reflects on the drawbacks of this approach based on the concepts of the need to closely interact with the study subjects which is presumed to be counteractive to the habituation method to avoid the essence of the participants getting used to the researcher due to the high level of intrusiveness. Primarily, this limitation aspect features as one amongst the conceptualization that the observational approach exhibit the limitation of the lack of reliability and generalizability since the observations are conducted from a small sample thus may lack representation due to sampling bias as aforementioned in the preceding instances.

Contextually, the researcher elucidates the advantages he realized in the applicability of this approach where he notes that closely interacting with the subjects though he ultimately counters the concept by the presumption of time-consuming and the distance factor. On this note, the researcher agrees with the contexts of the available literature which postulates that the naturalistic observations pose critical hardships in the technicalities of singling out the actual habitat of the intended study subjects. Predominantly, the observational approach befits the contexts where observables features of the study subjects are of significant interest to the researcher while experimental design dominates studies where manipulation/moderation of the dependent and independent variables impacts poses the key concern.


Bordens, K. S., & Abbott, B. B. (2014). Research design and methods: a process approach.

Ostrov, J. M., & Hart, E. J. (2013). Observational Methods. Oxford Handbooks Online. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199934874.013.0015

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