Naturalistic Observation

you can conduct naturalistic observation nearly anywhere. Animals make natural subjects for naturalistic observation.

Humans also make good subjects for naturalistic observation. Naturalistic observation is probably

the best method around for the process of formulating new hypotheses. By becoming familiar with subjects and their behavior,

one can start to make hypotheses about them and their behavior. Those hypotheses can then be tested by other methods. So, the notion that naturalistic

observation is a good first step in science derives from its utility in formulating hypotheses.There are problems with the

use of this method. The main one is the issue of bias. Researchers are always going to bring preconceived ideas to a

naturalistic-observation episode. Then, those preconceptions will shape the observations themselves.

One way to deal with the problem of bias is to have multiple observers. If you are the only one consistently to observe

some behavior, then, maybe you are adding it to the situation, or, maybe the others just cannot see it. However, now you and

the other observers could look for it more closely. Another way to deal with bias is to record the situation on film or

videotape. Then, it can be analyzed repeatedly. Still another way is to have naive observers. You train observers, but you

do not tell them why they are observing. Then, those observers will be less likely to see the situation in the light of the

hypothesis. So, naturalistic observation is a good first step in research; it is good for formulating hypotheses, but care needs to be

used to control for bias