Different Types of Observation

Mon, 07/22/2013 - 23:41 -- Umar Farooq

Observation may be classified into the following types.

Participant observation

Participant observation was firstly introduced by Prof-Edward winder man. Participant observation means the activities of a group in which an observer himself participate and note the situation. He willingly mixes with the group and perform his activities as an observer not merely a participator who criticize the situation. In other words he takes place and share the activities with his group. For example when we study the rural and urban conditions of Pakistani people, we have to go there and watched what is going on. The best philosophy of participant observation is that we watch the phenomena not to ask. The actual behavior of the group can be observed only be participant observation not on any other method.

Merits of participant observation

  1. The observer is personally involved in group activities and shares their feelings and prejudices.
  2. The observer participate himself and get insight into the behavior of the group.
  3. It motivates and stimulates mutual relationship b/w the observer and observe.
  4. The observer can get more information’s with accuracy and precision.
  5. The information’s are recorded in front of the group people.

Demerits of Participant Observation

  1. The participant observer may develop emotional attachment to his group which will lose the objectivity of the study.
  2. An observer cannot observe a certain phenomenon in a short time available to him.
  3. The observer cannot cover a wide area through this method.

Non-Participant Observation

The non-participant observation has a lack of participation of the observer in his group activities. He either watch the phenomena from a distance or participate in the group but never in its activities. He only sit in the group but do not interest in observation process.

The difference between participant & non-participant observation is that, in the former the observer himself take part in a group and become the member of that group also participate in their activities with full fledge while the latter refers to the less or no participation of the observer in his group, their membership and activities. He watch from a distance but do not have active eye sight that what is going on in the field.

Merits of non-participant observation

  1. Although observer himself never attach to the group but the objectivity maintained.
  2. Less emotional involvement of the observer leads to accuracy and greater objectivity.
  3. The observer having secondary relationship with his group, so the information’s are collected entirely.
  4. Through non-participant observation the research remains very smooth.

Demerits or limitations

  1. The observer do not have full knowledge about the group activities.
  2. The observer cannot understand the whole phenomena.
  3. The observer cannot get real and deep insight into the phenomena.

Controlled Observation

It is the type of observation in which the observer and observe or subject both are controlled. For systematic data collection control is imposed on both for accuracy and precision. When observation is pre-planned and definite, then it is termed as controlled observation. In control observation mechanical devices are used for precision and standardized. So, control increase accuracy, reduce bias, ensure reliability and standardization. Some of the devices for control observation are as under.

  1. Observational plan.
  2. Observational schedule.
  3. Mechanical appliances like, camera, maps, films, video, tape recorder etc.
  4. Team of observers.
  5. Socio Matric Scale.

Un-Controlled Observation

In this type of observation takes place in natural setting without the influence of external or outside control. The observer does not plan in advance but his observation is related to day-to-day happenings and socio-cultural problems. It studies some of our life situations.

Structured Observation

It this type careful information’s are recorded in a standardized way. It is a planned observation of a phenomena and to follow certain patterns, rules and designs for the purpose what to observe, how to observe and when to observe.

Un-Structured Observation

It is opposite to structured observation. This is not systematic and un-planned observation. A researcher do not set a plan in advance but he get the information’s freely. In this observation there are no rules to follow by the researcher.

General or Layman Observation

General or layman observation is the observation make by people in day-to-day happenings. They see many things daily but there is no objectivity of their study. For example a person see the children playing in a garden is general observation.

Scientific Observation

Scientific observation is based on some scientific rules and deliberate thinking. The observer must know what to observe. He have proper planning, objectivity, hypothesis and observation schedule in his study. Scientific observation is reliable and more standardized than general observation.

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