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Observation method

As a scientific, objective, observation method involves a systematic and purposeful fixation of psychological facts in the natural conditions of everyday life. Observation as a scientific method of research should not be reduced to a simple registration of facts, its main purpose is a scientific explanation of the causes of a phenomenon. Necessary conditions for scientific observation: goal setting; development of a plan; selection of an object and situation of observation; maintaining natural living conditions; non-interference in the subject's activities; objectivity and systematic observation; development of methods for fixing the results.

Basov considered objective observation as the main method of child psychology. In 1924, he proposed a special methodology of psychological observation of children, directed against subjectivity in the description of behavior. He compiled a special scheme in which the features of mental functions (the motor sphere, perception, memory, imagination, thinking, speech, the sphere of feelings, volitional processes) of preschool children and the behavioral moments in which these features are usually manifested were correlated. For example, fatigue (working capacity) was proposed to be assessed by the duration of the effort that a child usually exerts upon reaching a goal, perseverance, or a greater characteristic of an impulse, an instantaneous effort. When assessing the sphere of feelings, Basov singled out signs that are accessible for objective registration, namely: ease of arousal; sustainability; the abundance or poverty of external manifestations.

There were scientific institutions where this method of observation was the main one. So, N.M. Shchelovanov in Leningrad in the 1920s. organized a clinic for the normal development of children2. Round the clock

observation of specialists over the behavior of children made it possible to identify and describe the features of the development of the child in the first year of life (the appearance of a complex of revitalization, the formation of grabbing and walking).

Difficulties in using the method of objective observation: extreme complexity; time consuming; passive, expectant position of the researcher; the need for psychological education of the observer; a high probability of skipping psychological facts if they are new or merged with many associated phenomena; the danger of subjectivity in the collection and processing of data, in interpreting the results; impossibility of verification; limited use of mathematical data processing methods.

In the process of observation, the researcher fixes only the external manifestations of the child’s behavior, symptoms (actions with objects, statements), and he is interested in the mental processes hiding behind them, states about which he can only speculate, suggestions.
The observer should be very careful in the conclusions and take into account the fact that the subject may develop special motivation during any activity that can have a significant impact on the result.

In the work of V.I. Lenin's “On the Conditions of Reliability of a Psychological Experiment” (1941) 1 it was shown that younger and older children, solving seemingly identical problems, actually understand them differently. When presenting an intellectual problem, such as Keller’s, preschoolers really, without further ado, try to get a deleted item with a wand. And older children 7-12 years old seem to be unable to solve the problem, they do not even try to use a stick in sight. It turns out that they reformulated the problem for themselves, complicated it, because the obvious way seemed to them too easy.

Observation can be organized as continuous and selective. Continuous observation simultaneously covers many aspects of a child’s behavior for a long time and, as a rule, is carried out in relation to one or several children. At the same time, certain selectivity is not ruled out: the novelty, the importance of the qualities and abilities of the child act as selection criteria when recording observations (as in the psychologist’s diary BC Mukhina “Gemini” 2). Selective observation fixes either side of the child’s behavior or behavior in

in certain situations, at certain intervals (for example, C. Darwin observed the expression of his son’s emotions, the linguist A.N. Gvozdev recorded the son’s speech manifestations during the first 8 years of life).

The value of the observation method is that there are no age restrictions for the subjects; long follow-up of a child’s life allows us to identify tipping points - this is how knowledge was obtained about critical periods and transitions in development.

Modern researchers more often use observation as a method of collecting data at the initial stage. However, sometimes it is used as one of the main ones.

So, when studying the qualities of a mother necessary for the mental development of a young child, the method of “open observation with hidden goals” 1 is used. Situations of the interaction of a mother and a child aged from one to two years (objective play, reading a book) were identified as the most appropriate model for studying the relationship of mother to child. The subject of systematic observation, extensive fixation and analysis was the system of relationships between mother and child and the quality of the mother as a subject of communication with a child and a subject of learning of his subject activity.
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Observation method

  1. Observation method
    The observation method is one of the main methods of psychological study of the activities of military specialists. It consists in the direct perception of the studied object on the basis of registration of selected units (indicators, signs) that characterize the characteristics of the studied activity, the behavior of the individual, the team, individual acts, mental reactions, speech actions, operations activities. Total
  2. Observation and experiment as the main research methods in developmental psychology
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