The naturalistic observation advantage is that you will be able to study multiple subjects simultaneously when they are in their “natural environment” like a coffee shop or a book store. The disadvantage of this approach is if the subjects know they are being observed for research purposes there is a chance they will alter their behavior so they can act the way the researcher wants them to. The multiple subjects also can cause a researcher to miss a behavior that might be important to the researcher. Phenomenological studies involve experience, a psychologist in this type of study will be able to directly observe the manifestation of a behavior or reaction in a particular situation. The disadvantage of this type of study is it leaves room open for a lot a bias, in particular confirmation bias. Confirmation bias can ruin the entire point of a study because the researcher is looking for something specific and could interpret an occurrence with little to no accuracy. Case studies are individualized, which is good for therapy because unless the therapist is doing group therapy there needs to be a narrow focus on a patient. However, just because a behavior or symptom applies to one patient does not mean that it will present itself the exact same way in another patient. Archival studies are in essence using data that has been collected over a long period of time so that it can be applied in the present. The downside to studies like this is if you are searching through archives you might come across data that is either invalid or no longer relevant and mistakenly apply that data to something that is more current (Hansen & Myers, 2012).
If I were asked to design a study next week, I would likely do a case study with a little bit of a phenomenological flavor. I am wanting to go into Analytical and Clinical Psychology, so this type of study would be more in my wheel house than naturalistic or the archival studies would be. I would be able to make more of a difference in someone’s life if I am directly engaged with them than in a lab, and a case study or a phenomenological study would be the best way to do that. From a personal perspective, being inside a research lab is not all that appealing to me, not because it is not interesting but my capabilities are more suited for active engagement in a clinical setting. I’ve been in and out of hospitals and clinics my entire life and that probably has a lot do with where this comes from.
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