Naturalistic approach is where researchers observe behaviors as they would appear in a natural environment (Myers & Hansen, 2012). In this approach researchers have to be careful that they don’t experience reactivity. Reactivity is where subjects modify or change their behavior when they feel they are being observed or when they are in an uncomfortable environment (Myers & Hansen, 2012). Reactivity can cause the subjects to feel uncomfortable and therefore not give truthful and honest answers because they feel they may be judged by the observer. A reason why researchers may use a naturalistic observation study is because it doesn’t require manipulation, there is no restriction of responses, and there is little interaction between the observer and the subject. Researchers are wanting to see the behavior as it would naturally occur in a familiar or comfortable environment with the researcher trying to blend in as much as possible (Myers & Hansen, 2012). An example of when to use a naturalistic observation study is when someone wants to study risk-taking teenagers. An observer might want to use different settings like at a fair (observing the different rides they ride), a sledding hill, or a skate park. Researchers may also want to become part of the study group. This would allow them to get a firsthand account of the desired behaviors and the groups associated to them.
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