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What is observation research?
The systematic process of recording actual behavioral patterns of people, objects, and events as they happen.
Can be qualitative or quantitative.
What can be observed?
1. Physical activities
2. Verbal behaviour
3. Expressive behaviour and psychological reactions
4. Spatial relations and locations
5. Temporal patterns
6. Physical objects
7. Verbal and pictorial records
8. Neurological events
Limitations of observation:
1. Observation can describe the event that occurred but cannot explain why the event occurred.
2. Observation over long periods is expensive or even impossible.
Nature of Observation Studies
• Observation in which the observer’s presence is known to the subject.
- • Observation in which the subject is unaware that observation is taking
Advantages of Observation over Surveying
• Data are free from distortions, inaccuracies, or other response biases.
• Data are recorded when actual and nonverbal behavior takes place.
Benefits of observation
1. Communication with respondent is not necessary
2. Data not distorted by self-report bias (e.g., without social desirability)
3. No need to rely on respondents’ memory
4. Nonverbal behavior data may be obtained
5. Certain data may be obtained more quickly
6. Environmental conditions may be recorded
7. May be combined with survey to provide complementary evidence
Characteristics of Observing Human Behavior
1. Complementary Evidence
• Observation provides an additional source of information that helps explain other research findings.
2. Response Latency
• The amount of time it takes to make a choice between two alternatives; used as a measure of the strength of preference.
• A straightforward attempt to observe and record what naturally occurs.
• Observation in which the investigator creates an artificial environment in order to test a hypothesis.
• Environment may increase the frequency of certain behavior patterns to be observed.
Errors Associated With Direct Observation
• Observer Bias
>> A distortion of measurement resulting from the cognitive behavior or actions of a witnessing observer.
- • Recording events subjectively
• Recording events inaccurately
• Interpreting observation data incorrectly
Ethical Issues in the Observation of Humans
• Respondent’s right to privacy
• Contrived observation as entrapment
>> Researchers feel comfortable collecting observational data if:
• The observed behavior is commonly performed in public where others can observe the behavior.
• The behavior is performed in a setting that assures the anonymity of the person being observed.
• The observed person has agreed to be observed.
Observation of Physical Objects
>> Things that people made and consumed within a culture that signal something meaningful about the behavior taking place at the time of consumption.
>> Count and record physical inventories through retail or wholesale audits.
>> Pantry audit
>> The systematic observation and quantitative description of the manifest content of communication.
1. Television and Radio Monitoring
• Computerized mechanical observation used to obtain television ratings.
2. Monitoring Web site Traffic
- • Hits and page views
- >> Unique visitors
- • Click-through rate (CTR)
- >> Proportion of people exposed to an Internet ad who actually click on its hyperlink to enter the Web site; click-through rates are generally very low.
3. Scanner-Based Research
- • Scanner-based consumer panel
- >> A type of consumer panel in which participants’ purchasing habits are recorded
- with a laser scanner rather than a purchase diary.
- • At-home scanning systems
- >> Systems that allow consumer panelists to perform their own scanning after taking home products, using handheld wands that read UPC symbols.
4. Camera Surveillance
5. Neurological Devices
Measuring Physiological Reactions
1. Eye-Tracking Monitor
• Records how the subject actually reads or views an advertisement.
• Measures unconscious eye movements.
• Observes and records changes in the diameter of the subject’s pupils
• Measures galvanic skin response—involuntary changes in the electrical resistance of the skin.
• Assumes that physiological changes accompany emotional reactions.
4. Voice Pitch Analysis
• Measures emotional reactions through physiological changes in a person’s voice.