Naturalistic Observation has been a basic research method in Social Psychology and other scientific domains of investigation for a very long time. Careful, objective observation and recording of events and phenomena can provide important insights into meaningful patterns that exist in the natural world, without intruding into that world. If the subjects are aware of the observation, their behavior will be altered, and the observer will impact the events being observed.

Thus, when a researcher utilizes the naturalistic observation method, it is imperative that s/he impact the observed situation as little as possible. The researcher should be careful to observe and listen without straining to hear – just record tonalities of voices, speed of speech, and words when it is possible to hear them without having to actually “eavesdrop” (i.e., if words are whispered, the researcher should not be able to record what was said!) The researcher doesn’t want the people s/he is observing to feel observed or eavesdropped-upon. The researcher should try to remain inconspicuous, or become a part of the scene to the point where s/he is completely accepted as part of the social landscape. For example, Dr. Jane Goodall, in her naturalistic observations of chimpanzee behavior, became accepted by the chimpanzee community to such an extent that they behaved normally in her presence. It is challenging for the amateur researcher to observe people without them becoming aware of the observer’s presence, but it can be done.

This assignment involves two separate periods of observation, 20 minutes each. During the first observation, the student will take notes. The setting, date, and time of the observation should be described with enough detail that a reader can reconstruct the observation in his/her imagination, and will understand the description of the
subject/s’ behavior. While observing, however, the researcher may need to take “shorthand” notes, and later construct full sentences when writing up the report. Do not record your opinions about behaviors or conversations, only record direct observations of behaviors and actual speech.

Your submission for Project 1 should be 750 words in length and must follow APA guidelines for style

During the first 10 minute period, record only non-verbal behavior.
During the second 10 minute period, record only verbal behavior.
After the first 20 minute period, take a break, while you think about what you have seen. Are there any patterns of interaction which seem prominent? Using ideas about social interaction which you have read about in your book, construct a simple hypothesis about the behavior you are observing, and be able to explain why you decided on that hypothesis. The hypothesis should be simple enough to test in the setting in which you have chosen to conduct your observation.
For example, if you are observing a conversational interaction between two people, you might hypothesize that one individual will speak more frequently than the other, based on what you observed in the first 20 minutes of the observation, based on the relevant social psychology findings in the text.

In the second 20 minute period of observation, you will collect the data specifically relevant to your hypothesis. To continue with the above-mentioned example, you would simply count the verbal behaviors of the two subjects. If your hypothesis predicts that Subject A will speak more frequently than subject B, you count the verbal behaviors of both subjects, and then consider whether your hypothesis has been supported by the behavior of your subjects (Did subject A actually speak more frequently than subject B?) Use whatever data collection is most appropriate to your specific hypothesis.
After collecting your data, prepare a report on your observation. In preparing your written narrative, be sure to use complete sentences. You will begin the narrative with a description of the observation, including physical description of the subjects and the setting of the observation, and day of the week, month and time of day of the observation. If relevant, also include a brief description of the weather. You may include a diagram of the physical setting, if you feel that it will make your account more precise and easy to understand.
The behavior of the subject or subjects should be described with objective,non-judgmental language. If you make any interpretive comments, you need to back up those comments with factual data. Be sure to include the hypothesis you developed after the first period of observation, and the reasons you decided to choose that hypothesis. Be sure to use proper citation if you use words that are the same as or close to those of the textbook. If the Naturalistic hypothesis you developed after the first period of observation requires a count of specific behaviors, be sure to include that count in your final report.
After completing your narrative account, and reporting your findings, you will need to write a paragraph about your own experience with the naturalistic observation. Was it challenging for you? What insight have you gained from performing this exercise?