Evaluation of naturalistic observation

TASK: Read through the description of naturalistic observations in your
booklet (p.10)
Now, make notes on these evaluation points on p.11
 Valuable as a preliminary research tool. It can
therefore lead to the identification of an
appropriate hypothesis for further
investigation in a more controlled setting
 In certain circumstances it can lead to a high
level of ecological validity since the pt will
often be being observed in their natural
 The Hawthorne effect may occur. This is when
people know they are being observed, they change
their behaviour due to the issues of evaluation
apprehension and social desirability bias. This will
therefore reduce the internal validity of the research.
 (It’s called the Hawthorne effect since researchers
were investigating production levels at the
Hawthorne Western Electric factory in Chicago.
They found that both increased AND decreased
lighting led to increased production in the workers
i.e. because the workers were aware of being
observed they worked harder.)
 Observer bias might occur. This is when
observers may interpret what they see in line
with the expectations they have. It may
affect how a particular behaviour is
interpreted. E.g. a researcher might expect
boys to be more aggressive than girls and so
might interpret a boy pushing a child as
aggressive, but might not if it were a girl
doing it. One way to overcome this would be
to have two observers.
 Replication is an issue with naturalistic
observations. This is because it’s highly
unlikely that all aspects of the observation
would be the same. E.g. a different number
of people present, etc therefore generalising
the findings will also be difficult.