One of the characteristic of the observational method of research is that its environment is generally authentic. Even the situation that is studied is subjected to a realistic circumstance that actually generates genuine responses. This characteristic is essential in psychological studies such that the human mind is too complex wherein extensive and intensive observation and monitoring of its activity must be recorded and analysed according to the behaviours observed from the subject of the study. Since the behaviours of the subject of study are natural responses to the actual situations that serve as the one of the factors and conditions being studied.
Observational methods enable researchers and practitioners to identify behavioural patterns within the naturalistic contexts at the time during which they actually occur, and, thus, the social validity of these systems is often a strength. (qtd in Lakin, 2005)
There are several ways in which observational method in psychological research is delivered. These different approaches in observational method are the participant observation, non-participant observation, structured observation, unstructured observation and naturalistic observation. The observed data gathered through the observation of the various behaviours from each of these approaches involve planned gathering, analysis, and interpretation. As much as the approaches differ from each other, it cannot be avoided that each of the approaches may have an advantage over the others. ("Observational") Depending on the problem of the study and the whole idea of the research, an appropriate observational approach may be identified according to the strengths and weaknesses of each approach. These observational techniques are classified according to the intervention of the observer on the research being conducted. ("Introduction")
Naturalistic observation approach is deemed as the most reliable method in studies that involve an observation of specific subjects. ("Observational") The observer in this approach does not intervene in any aspect within the duration of the study. Significantly, the participants involved in the study with whom the behaviours are being observed, do not have an idea that each of their reactions and actions are observed. For all intents and purposes, the researcher is invisible and works hard not to interrupt the natural dynamics of the situation being investigated. ("Introduction")
Due to an uninterrupted situation, the participants of the study behave naturally and spontaneously because of the non-intervention and the natural flow of the situation. The researcher becomes more privileged of observing specific behaviours of the participants according to a predetermined set of criteria. For a research study when there is a very limited concept of the research is identified and known by the researcher, this method may also be applicable. The researcher may be able to develop a hypothesis upon observation of the natural situation or event being studied or observed. ("Introduction")
However, since the observer or the researcher does not have any control on the situation being studied, he is limited in drawing meaningful conclusions about the causes of a particular behaviour that the subject has exhibited. ("Introduction") Moreover, one of the strongest issues that face naturalistic observation is ethics. Since the participants of the study are not told of the study being conducted, this becomes a violation of