Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Observational techniques

In marketing and the social sciences, observational research (or field research) is a social research technique that involves the direct observation of phenomena in their natural setting. This differentiates it from experimental research in which a quasi-artificial environment is created to control for spurious factors, and where at least one of the variables is manipulated as part of the experiment.

Table of contents
1 Observational techniques in context
2 Three Approaches
3 In Marketing Research
4 See also
5 List of related topics

Observational techniques in context

Compared with quantitative research and experimental research, observational research tends to be less reliable but more valid. The main advantage of observational research is flexibility. The researchers can change their approach as needed. Also it measures behaviour directly, not reports of behaviour or intensions. The main disadvantage is it is limited to behavioural variables. It cannot be used to study cognitive or affective variables. Another disadvantage is that observational data is not usually generalizable.

Three Approaches

Generally, there are three types of observational research:

In Marketing Research

In marketing research, the most frequently used types of observational techniques are:

See also

List of related topics