Social Psychologists observe behaviour in natural settings without gaining the consent of the participants, as in I.M. Piliavi


Observing people in artificial settings is also known as controlled observation which is carried out in a psychology laboratory. In this case, the researcher makes decisions on the location, time and, participants to be included and the standardized procedures to be applied. Some of the strength includes the fact that such observations can easily be replicated by other researchers hence it is easy to test for reliability (Zimbardo, p.56). For example, the same research was replicated in three other prisons and the same results were obtained. Observing people in artificial settings is can be undertaken quickly hence many observations can be made within a short period. Finally, the data obtained through this method is easy to analyze through quantitative methods. One limitation of this approach is lack of validity due to the demand characteristics that argues that participants may act differently if they know that they are being watched. For example, the prisoners acted in an orderly manner knowing that they were being watched.

Observing people in natural settings involve studying the conduct of the participants in their natural environment. This form of study attracts a number of benefits into the field of psychological research such as increased ecological validity since the researcher is able to observe patterns of behavior in their natural settings (Piliavin,, 103). For example, the observers in the train were able to note the race, sex and location of every passenger either seated or standing. However, the approach has several limitations such as less reliability since some variables cannot be controlled. It calls for proper training of the researchers so that they are able to detect various aspects that are of psychological importance. For example, the observers at the train station had to be trained in order to be able to appropriately identify the required features on the passengers. The observations are undertaken on a small scale hence may lack a representative sample.

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