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Naturalistic Observation versus a Controlled Experiment

Naturalistic Observation versus a Controlled Experiment

Advantages of a Naturalistic Observation

            A study technique called naturalistic observation includes observing research subjects in their natural settings. This is a study technique employed by many psychologists and other sociologists. It is a style of qualitative study that emphasizes collection, analysis, non-numerical data, and analysis. In contrast, a scientific theory is tested in a controlled experiment (Dane, 2019). Essentially, it involves purposefully changing the independent variable (the cause) and quantifying the dependent factor (the effect); any uncontrolled factors or variables are eliminated. The benefits of naturalistic observation include the ability to directly see, observe, or study the subject in a natural environment. The insights gained may also serve as a springboard for additional research. It also enables researchers to examine actions or circumstances that, for ethical reasons, cannot be controlled in a lab. Moreover, it can bolster a study’s external reliability and validity (Dane, 2019). It is also affordable, accurate, and realistic, and patterns can be easily detected compared to a controlled experiment that does not have external validity.

The Preferred Technique

I prefer naturalistic observation to a controlled experiment. This is because, in a lab context, people frequently act differently than they would in the wild. Consequently, I want to watch my participant’s behavior as it develops. By seeing how people react to circumstances and stressors in real life, I also hope to gain a deeper understanding of why and how people behave in specific ways. For instance, I would like to understand more about the classroom dynamics between teachers and students or student-student interactions. Conducting these observations in a laboratory would be challenging because it would require simulating a classroom setting. It would probably impact how the volunteers behave, making it challenging to extrapolate the findings. I can, therefore, more thoroughly monitor the behavior the subjects are fascinated about as it happens in the actual world by watching them in their standard setting. In these classrooms, they study and work.


Dane, F. C. (2019). Survey methods, naturalistic observations, and case studies. In Companion Encyclopedia of Psychology (pp. 1142-1155). Routledge.


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Naturalistic Observation versus a Controlled Experiment

Naturalistic Observation versus a Controlled Experiment

What are the advantages of a naturalistic observation over a controlled experiment? Which would you prefer to perform and why?

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