Naturalistic Observation Is Used By Psychologists And Scientists Psychology Essay

23 Mar 2015

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Naturalistic observation is used by psychologists and scientists to observe subjects in a specific environment. It is usually prolonged observation of a behaviour. It provides an excellent description of certain occurrences, and it can give many ideas for hypotheses. Naturalistic observation can either be unobtrusive or obtrusive. Unobtrusive naturalistic observation is where the research does not take part in the behaviour being observed or does not interact with the specific phenomenon or species. Obtrusive naturalistic observation is usually when the researcher observes the specific phenomenon or species by interacting with it or adopting the species' behaviours and lifestyles. Unobtrusive naturalistic observation is usually unethical and so obtrusive naturalistic observation is more commonly used with human subjects for ethicality. There are also two ways to collect data from naturalistic observation: event sampling and time sampling. Event sampling is when the observer records and documents an event or person, whereas time sampling is when the researcher decides on a time (for example 30 seconds) and then documents only the behaviour that is occurring at that time.

Provide an example of the naturalistic observation research technique (½ mark)

An example of naturalistic observation is where an observer sits at a café or restaurant and observes different groups of people and what they order. There could be many different groups of people like: one male, one female, two females, two males, a family with two adults and one child, etc. and what they order could depend on the menu of the café or restaurant. The observer could make notes while observing these people, and perhaps make note of racial differentiations as well (this would depend on the study). The observer could also note what mood the person seems to be in and although that is not exact, it may affect how that particular person behaves and how that person may interact with the waiter, waitress or other people if they are not alone, as well as how the waiter or waitress handles these individuals. This example of naturalistic observation can be used for the café or restaurant's benefit, because by doing this, they can get an insight on what the majority of their customers prefer on the menu, therefore being able to discard dishes that are never chosen and make educated guesses for more dishes, as well as how efficiently their staff are working.

Describe two advantages of naturalistic observation (1 mark)

One advantage of naturalistic observation is that it allows researchers to study behaviours that cannot be manipulated in a laboratory or study due to ethical concerns. For example it would be unethical to study the effects of imprisonment by actually confining the subjects, so instead researchers will study subjects that are already in confinement.

Another advantage is that it can help support the external validity of research. For example, if a hypothesis in a study of human behaviour needs to be proven; naturalistic observation can allow that to happen.

Describe two disadvantages of naturalistic observation (1 mark)

One disadvantage of naturalistic observation is that once a behaviour is observed, it can be difficult to discover the cause of the behaviour. Behaviour can be determined or changed by many factors that cannot always be observed. Another disadvantage is that two observers may draw a different conclusion from the same behaviour.

The following four questions refer to the behavioural coding activity completed in today's class, where you were asked to time stamp different behaviours every 30 seconds. In Table 7 of today's class you were asked to calculate the total frequency of behaviours for each person across the six time stamps. You will need to look at Table 7 when answering the following four questions:

How many times was Monica preparing food? (½ mark)

Monica was preparing food in the kitchen twice.

How many times was Rachel talking? (½ mark)

Rachel was talking twice.

How many times was Chandler sitting? (½ mark)

Chandler was sitting six times.

How many times was Joey standing? (½ mark)

Joey was standing twice.

Week 7 Tutorial Questions

In what way does the Eliza program make use of client (person)-centred concepts in psychotherapy? (2 marks)

Client (person)-centred therapy is commonly associated with the humanistic psychological perspective, created by Carl Rogers. Rogers identified the core conditions or qualities necessary for effective counselling. These are empathy (being able to understand one's feelings without being sympathetic), congruency (being genuine to oneself and others) and unconditional positive regard. The Eliza program attempts to encompass all of these qualities through paraphrasing, non-verbal communication and empathy. The program uses paraphrasing by taking a section of what the person said earlier and adding things like "what would it mean to you if you got to…" before the section and at times "tell me more" after the section. This would not always work because the phrases would not make sense, for example "What would it mean to you if you got to I feel sad sometimes?". The Eliza program also uses non-verbal communication. For example she uses "ahh" and "ok…" as if understanding what is being said, and at times asks for an elaboration of the subject at hand. However, if she doesn't ask to elaborate, then the conversation stops and the individual may find it difficult to continue it. The Eliza program uses empathy by saying phrases that makes it sound like she truly understands what the person is saying. She used phrases like "I see" and "I understand" to attempt to express empathy.

Assume that a program could be written that would accurately and empathetically respond to each of your statements. What advantages do you think computer-based therapy would have, as compared to traditional therapy of this kind? (1 mark)

One advantage of computer-based therapy where the program responds accurately and empathetically is that it allows individuals to avoid the stigma associated with psychology and treatment. Computer-based therapy allows an individual to receive unconditional positive regard as no judgements based on age, weight, gender, sexuality or race can be made through the computer therapy program. More privacy would also be given which allows an individual to choose what will happen to the information they receive or give which will also reduce social stigma. Another advantage of computer-based therapy is that individuals who belong to cultures that reject psychology or therapy have a chance to attempt therapy. Some Spanish and Italian cultures reject psychology, as do individuals who follow Scientology. Computer-based therapy will allow individuals from these cultures who don't necessarily follow the same beliefs about psychology to receive therapy discretely. Discretion will be enhanced as it is on a computer due to the fact that complete confidentiality will be obtained and it will be difficult for someone from that culture to know of their therapy.

Assume that a program could be written that would accurately and empathetically respond to each of your statements. What disadvantages do you think computer-based therapy would have, as compared to traditional therapy of this kind? (1 mark)

One disadvantage of computer-based therapy is that there is an absence of non-verbal communication. Non-verbal communication are messages that can be communicated through gestures, touch, body language, facial expression and eye contact to name a few. Non-verbal communication represents two-thirds of all communication and expresses emotions. In psychology, non-verbal communication allows congruence to develop between a psychologist and their client and allows the client to feel more comfortable in their situation. This cannot develop through a computer-based therapy session which may make an individual feel disconnected or feel like they are not being as understood as they wish to be. Another disadvantage of computer-based therapy of this nature is that the purpose of therapy is not to accurately and empathetically respond to an individual. The purpose of therapy is to understand an individual and help them through different processes such as metaphorical holding, silence and active listening. None of these things can be achieved through computer based therapy which means that an individual may feel unconnected or misunderstood.

Name and describe two other ways in which a computer-based technology can be employed for the treatment of psychological disorder. (1 mark)

One other way in which a computer-based technology can be employed for treatment of psychological disorder is Virtual Reality (VR) exposure therapy. VR exposure therapy simulates a real environment that combines visual, auditory and kinaesthetic experiences in a computer-generated world. By exposing an individual to their fear or phobia through VR, that person becomes so familiarised with their problem so that it is no longer an issue. This form of therapy is useful for the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety and/or phobias. VR exposure therapy is also available for adolescents who are reluctant to have therapy through computer games. Another way in which a computer-based technology can be employed for treatment of psychological disorder is brain-computer interface. Brain-computer interface was developed to help children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to increase attention through playing a brain-computer interface -based attention training game system. The system consisted of a headband with attached electroencephalogram (EEG) sensors that transmitted the EEG readings to the computer through Bluetooth. The advanced signal processing techniques in the brain-computer interface can pick up useful information about attention based activities from the frontal EEG. To test brain-computer interface, a study was conducted for approximately 20 weeks, and by the end participants had significant improvement in regards to attention.

Week 8 Tutorial Questions

Explain the A-B-C model of emotional reactions developed by Albert Ellis. (3 marks)

The A-B-C model of emotional reactions was developed by Albert Ellis during the mid-20th century. The A-B-C model is a cognitive behavioural therapy technique that analyses an individual's thoughts, behaviour and emotions. The A-B-C model requires an individual to record a sequence of events in terms of

Activating Event (sometimes also known as the 'trigger')

Beliefs (for example, the thoughts that the individual had throughout the activating event. These beliefs can be portrayed as rational or irrational, however, it is suggested an individual does both)

Consequences (for example, how you feel and behave when you have those beliefs)

The individual is then encouraged to analyse their beliefs and consequences using the common cognitive distortions or errors in thinking. These include but are not limited to; all-or-nothing thinking, over-generalisation, catastrophising, mind-reading, discounting the positive, and labelling. By doing this, an individual can explore differing strategies to overcome or cope with these errors in thinking. The purpose of the A-B-C model is to introduce sensible balancing thoughts into an individual's thinking process and allows an individual to react to certain situation in a more constructive way.

Valerie is doing homework for her statistics class. When she checks the answer she has just calculated for the problem she has been working on, she finds it is incorrect. She is frustrated, and tells her roommate: "I don't know why I'm even trying, I'll never catch on this course. I should just give up now." According to Albert Ellis, Valerie's statements reflect (1 mark)

Defensive coping

Mental disengagement

Catastrophic thinking

Reality-based coping

My answer: C - Catastrophic thinking

Which of the following statements best represents the approach of a cognitive therapist in treating a chronically anxious client? (1 mark)

"So, you feel that your world is a very scary place to be."

"Let's look for ways in which you might actually be benefiting from your anxiety."

"Let's see if we can identify the irrational thoughts that are producing your anxiety."

"Do you feel that your mother adequately met your need for emotional support when you were a child?"

My answer: C -"Let's see if we can identify the irrational thoughts that are producing your anxiety."

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