Observation Research

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					Qualitative & Observation
        Research
Conducting Focus
Group Interviews
        Focus Group Interviews
• Unstructured, free-flowing interviews with small
  groups of people.
• Consists of
   – Moderator or interviewer
   – 6 to 10 participants
   – Note taker
• Moderator introduces topic and encourages group
  members to discuss the subject amongst
  themselves.
• Allow people to discuss their true feelings in their
  own words
    Advantages of Focus Group
           Interviews
• Relatively fast
• Easy to execute
• Inexpensive
• Numerous topics can be discussed (unlike
  surveys)
• Multiple insights can be gained
    Drawbacks of Focus Group
           Interviews
• Require sensitive and effective moderators
  – Without such, self-appointed participants may
    dominate a session
  – Halo effect on attitudes toward the concept or
    topic of discussion may occur, if group reacts
    negatively to a dominant member
• Participants may not be representative of
  the population of interest.
Requirements for Effective Focus
           Groups
• Six to ten participants
• Carefully screen participants
  – Want people who have knowledge about the topic at
    hand
• Homogeneous participants in terms of some
  characteristic under study
• Relaxed atmosphere
• If possible, room with one-way mirror and audio-
  and video-recording capabilities
• Session duration around one hour
• Trained moderator
• Compensate for participation
  7 Habits of Effective Moderators
1. Establish personal contact with each respondent
   early
2. Help respondents feel relaxed early on
3. Win respondents to your side
4. Deal with loud respondents; but don’t intimidate
   other respondents
  •   Don’t look at them when you ask questions
  •   Don’t acknowledge their raised hands
5. Deal with inconsistent, unclear answers by
   mobilizing the group to help
6. Create an environment where anything a
   respondent wants to say is acceptable
7. Don’t assume you know what a respondent means
   by an ambiguous answer
When NOT to use Focus Groups
• Emotionally charged environment
• Researcher has lost control over critical
  aspects of the study
• Statistical projections are needed
• Other methodologies can produce better
  quality information
• Other methodologies can produce more
  economical information of the same quality
• Researcher cannot ensure the
  confidentiality of sensitive information
  Types of Focus Group Questions
• Opening Question
  – Round robin question
  – Designed to be answered rather quickly
  – Designed to identify characteristics participants have in
    common
  – Preferably factual (rather than attitude or opinions)
• Introductory Question
  – Introduce general topic of discussion
• Key Questions
  – 2 to 5 max
  – The questions you really want answers to
• Ending Questions
  – Bring closure to the discussion. Most common is the
    summary question
       Some Things to Consider
• Avoid Dichotomous Questions
  – Questions answerable with a “yes” or “no”
• Avoid asking “Why”
  – Has a sharpness or pointedness that reminds one
    of interrogations
• Asked Uncued Questions first; Cued
  Questions second
  – Uncued: Open-ended; usually based on recent
    experiences or impressions
  – Cued: Questions that specify some topic or aspect
    of a topic
Scientific Observation Is Systematic


 “YOU SEE, BUT YOU
  DO NOT OBSERVE.”

     Sherlock Holmes
What is Observation Research?
• The systematic process of recording the
  behavioral patterns of people, objects, and
  occurrences as they are witnessed.
• No questioning or communicating with
  people typically occurs.


• “Where observation is
  concerned, chance favors only
  the prepared mind.”
  – Louis Pasteur
        What Can Be Observed
    Phenomena                 Example

Human behavior or physical Shoppers movement
action                     pattern in a store

Verbal behavior           Statements made by
                          airline travelers who wait
                          in line

Expressive behavior       Facial expressions, tone of
                          voice, and other form of
                          body language
       What Can Be Observed
  Phenomena                      Example


Spatial relations      How close visitors at an
and locations          art museum stand to paintings

Temporal patterns      How long fast-food customers
                       wait for their order to be served

Physical objects       What brand name items are
                       stored in consumers’ pantries

Verbal and Pictorial   Bar codes on product packages
Records
  Categories of Observation


• Human versus mechanical
• Visible versus hidden
• Direct
Visible vs. Hidden Observation

• Visible Observation
  – Observer’s presence is known to the subject.
• Hidden Observation
  – Subject is unaware that observation is taking
    place.
  – Minimizes respondent error
        Direct Observation
• Straightforward attempt to observe and
  record what naturally occurs
• The investigator does not create an
  artificial situation
  – Observer Bias
    • Distortion of measurement resulting from the
      cognitive behavior or actions of a witnessing
      observer
  – Response Latency
      Response Latency
• Recording the decision time
  necessary to make a choice
  between two alternatives
• It is presumed to indicate the
  strength of preference between
  alternatives.
 Observation of Human Behavior
            Benefits
• Communication with respondent
  not necessary
• No distortions due to self-report
  (e.g.: no social desirability) bias
• No need to rely on respondents’
  memory
• Nonverbal behavior data may be
  obtained
Observation of Human Behavior
           Benefits
• Certain data may be obtained
  more quickly
• Environmental conditions may
  be recorded
• May be combined with survey
  to provide supplemental
  evidence
 Observation of Human Behavior
           Limitations
• Cognitive phenomena cannot be
  observed
• Interpretation of data may be a
  problem
• Not all activity can be recorded
• Only short periods can be observed
• Observer bias possible
• Possible invasion of privacy
Observation of Physical Objects
• Physical-trace evidence
 –Wear and tear of a book
  indicates how often it has been
  read
           Content Analysis
• Obtains data by observing and
  analyzing the content of
  advertisements, letters, articles, etc.
• Deals with the study of the message
  itself
• Measures the extent of emphasis or
  omission
    Mechanical Observation

• Traffic
  Counters
• Web Traffic
• Scanners
• Physiological
  Measures
  Physiological Reactions

• Eye tracking
• Pupilometer
• Psychogalvanometer
• Voice pitch
    Eye Tracking Monitors

• Measure unconscious eye
  movements
• Record how the subject
  actually reads or views an
  advertisement
         Pupilometer
• Device observes and
  records changes in the
  diameter of the subject’s
  pupils.
      Psychogalvanometer
• Measures galvanic skin
  response
 –Involuntary changes in
  electrical resistance of the skin
• Assumption:
 –physiological changes
  accompany emotional reactions
     Voice Pitch Analysis

• Measures emotional
  reactions through
  physiological changes in a
  person’s voice
Measuring Physiological Reactions Problems

• No strong theoretical evidence
  supports argument that
  physiological change is valid
  measure of future sales, attitude
  change, or emotional response
• Calibration (or sensitivity) of the
  measuring devices
  –Identifying arousal is one thing
  –Precisely measuring levels of arousal
   is another
Measuring Physiological Reactions Problems

• Expense of the measuring
  devices
• Subjects usually are place in
  artificial surroundings and
  know they are being observed

				
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posted:2/12/2012
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