Unstructured method of research, Naturalistic Observation is one of the three types and is used to collect data and observe subjects in their natural habitat. It does not include altering the environment or triggering subjects to get the results needed. Moreover, the subject or subjects being observed are unaware that they are being examined. Although this is considered to be the most realistic type of research method, there are also those who are skeptical about this. Here are the opposing views of the proponents and opponents of this research type.
List of Pros of Naturalistic Observation
1. Genuine Reactions
Researchers who apply Naturalistic Observation in their studies say that this method gets more accurate and realistic reactions from subjects. Since these subjects, people or animals, are unaware that they are being watched, they show their natural behaviors since they are not conscious on how they act or move. Also, since there is no outside force that triggers their emotions, results are real and not calculated.
Naturalistic Observation is considered not to put the researcher at risk since there is no need to interact with the subjects as in the case of observing the natural habitat of wild animals, say, tigers. Researchers have studied how these wild animals live, prey and survive in the wild without having to go near them. Animal behavior can be unpredictable, making it safer to study them from afar using this type of research method.
3. Helpful in Validating Research
Apart from unstructured observation, supporters of Naturalistic Observation say that this method is used in comparing and validating results from studies that have been done before. This type is useful in confirming and disproving data since its results are realistic and accurate.
List of Cons of Naturalistic Observation
1. Time Consuming
Critics of this research method claim that observing a subject who is unaware of being watched will take a longer time to act or manifest expected behavior as opposed to a subject who knows that an experiment or study is going on. Although a researcher can get a natural reaction and a real one, this can take time since the subject needs to be observed over and over again to identify a pattern of behavior and this is time consuming. Moreover, if there are a number of people or animals being observed, not all will behave the same way which can also add to research time.
Opponents of Naturalistic Observation say that researchers have no control of the environment and the influences that can affect the behavior of their subjects. Although the environment is not changed, there are distractions in the environment that can impact subjects and the results can be wrong.
3. Different Views
Individuals who are not for Naturalistic Observation say that results can be different if there is more than one researcher in the study. This is because different people have varied perception of things and since this method is unstructured, results might be misinterpreted by some and thus, can be inaccurate.
Natural Observation as a research method is important because it gives the researcher a chance to discover new things about the subject which will not be evident if another method is applied. However, this method is not without drawbacks. Perhaps, it is important for a researcher to analyze if this is the best method for the study or better yet, use it along side another research technique.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.