In psychology, observational research can be described as a type of research study in which the researcher uses direct observation as the main technique. It involves watching the behavior of people in details in their natural settings, as they perform their daily activities. The behavior of the person under study is studied and recorded after which a conclusion is drawn (Zechmeister, Zechmeister & Shaughnessy, 2001, p.19). There as several types of observational research studies. Some of these include; participant observational research in which the research takes a role in the research exercise. The researcher thus gains a close familiarity with the group of people s/he is studying by spending some time with them. This method is advantageous in that the researcher becomes part of the study thus s/he gets an all round information about the subject (p.21).
The second type of observational research is covert in which the researcher does not identify him/ herself to the subject of study. S/he only observes from a distance and the subject is not aware of what is happening. The advantage with this method is that the behavior of the subject is not corrupt or manipulated by the presence of the observer (Zechmeister, Zechmeister & Shaughnessy, 2001, p.26). Overt on the other hand involves the identification of the researcher to the subject under study. S/he identifies him/herself and explains to the subject the purpose for the research as well as prepares him/her on what is expected during the exercise. As a result, the subject is prepared and the observer can get maximum cooperation from him/ her (p.33).
The type of observational research study that was used in the description in which the %uFFFD, of a friend, on friendliness on conversation was studied is overt type of study. This is because the participant was informed of the need of carrying out the research and he was explained to everything that pertained to the exercise. He was therefore well before agreeing to undertake the exercise. The conclusion that was drawn from the exercise revealed that 75% of the 50 conversations that were made were %uFFFD very friendly, 20% were %uFFFD friendly, and 5% were rated %uFFFD neutral. However, one cannot be 100% sure that the given results were the correct ones for the subject under study. This is because the method of observational research that was used has its own short comings.
First, according to Zechmeister, Zechmeister & Shaughnessy (2001), the participant was informed of what was happening as well as the need for carrying out the research exercise. Since he was already convinced that he had a positive influence on friendliness conversation, he wanted to defend his position therefore he did all he could so as not to prove himself wrong. Second, he was aware that someone was watching him therefore there are possibilities that he changed his behavior so as he could properly convince the researcher and his friend that he really had a positive influence on friendliness conversation. The other reason as to why these results may not truly reflect the behavior of the subject is that biasness could have occurred resulting to the observer favoring the subject by giving him good points which in real sense he did not deserve. Besides there is also the issue of sampling in which the people who may have participated in the exercise were not the right representatives i.e. those who were picked did not have matching characters thus making some appearing better than the others (Zechmeister, Zechmeister & Shaughnessy, 2001, p.107).
Scientific method involves the collection of data through the study of observable and quantifiable facts based on specific reasoning principles (Zechmeister, Zechmeister & Shaughnessy, 2001, p.13). The application of scientific method on this exercise has influenced my conclusion of the results in that it takes into account some specific considerations which have not been accounted for in this study. The method lacks scientific validity thus conclusions can not be drawn on the basis of cause and effects.
This is not to say that the research method that was used was insufficient. No. Through this method the observer gets maximum cooperation from the subject who is also satisfied at the end of the exercise since he is aware of the role he played in the study. However, a better method would have used in place of this for better results. The recommended method is covert whereby the subject is not told anything about the research and s/he is not aware that a certain exercise is taking place. The observer would simple sit in a place where s/he could clearly see the subject and record everything that is happening during the conversation without the subject’s knowledge. Alternatively, still under the covert observational method, the observer would mingle with the subject unnoticed and record the observations as they interact (Zechmeister, Zechmeister & Shaughnessy, 2001, p.27). This way the subject would not change his behavior or start behaving in a manner that was convincing to the observer. He would behave naturally and the researcher would get the best results out of it.