Features, Advantages and Disadvantages of Observation

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Introduction and Meaning of Observation
The most common method used for getting information about the various things around us, is to observe those things and also the various processes related to those things. Hence, it can be said that observation acts as a fundamental and the basic method of getting information about anything. But it must be kept in mind that observation is not just seeing things but it is carefully watching the things and trying to understand them in depth, in order to get some information about them.

Observations sometimes act scientifically, when used by the researchers in various research works but it should be noted that all observations are not scientific in nature.

According to Oxford Concise Dictionary, observation means ‘accurate watching, noting the phenomenon by which they occur in the nature with regard to the cause and effect of mutual relations.’

Science begins with observation and at the end also uses observation for the final validation – so it can be said that Observation acts as very elegant method in case of scientific investigation.


Features of observation
1. Eye Observation – In an accurate sense, observation involves the use of the eyes rather than the use of the ears and the voice. An experienced worker never believes in hearsay he only trusts if he has observed that with his own eyes or if the report is a first hand evidence of his eyes. So it can be said that observation done with the help of the eyes acts as a most trustworthy medium for making an observation.

2. Aim – Observations which act on scientific grounds are brought in use by the scientists or the researchers with some or the other aim to achieve something. Such scientists make their observations in a very minute and a detailed manner which helps them in achieving specific goals. These goals can include discovery of something, verification of the hypothesis etc.

3. Planning – The value of an observation in an operation is only if it is done properly – in a planned manner as, if it is done in a careless sense then the chance of making such an observation again may come or not. Hence, observation should be carried out in a very phased and a planned manner in order to get in depth understanding of an activity.

4. Recording – The various operations that we perform and the results that we obtain should be remembered but a known fact is that memory is very deceptive in nature. With the passage of time things tend to get out of mind, so it is very important to keep a record of such activities. One very common method to keep a track of these activities is to write down the various impressions, but now a days a tape or in some cases a video camera is used for the recording purposes.

One of the major advantages of the recording done by a tape or a video camera is that the chances of going wrong i.e. committing any mistake are very less or almost negative. In tape, actual words can be recorded which results in zero chance of committing an error.

5. Physical and mental activity – Sense organs have a very critical role to play in the observation process. During the observation researcher or an investigator has to use his sense organs for seeing and hearing things and then has to keep in mind the whole set of observations for an in depth analysis of the matter later on.

6. Exactness – Observation should be based on standardized tools of research which makes an observation exact in its nature of working.

7. Direct study – Observation is a very vital scientific method that helps a lot in the collection of the primary information that is reliable in nature in which direct study of the situation is involved.


Advantages of Observation
1. Very direct method for collecting data or information – best for the study of human behavior.
2. Data collected is very accurate in nature and also very reliable.
3. Improves precision of the research results.
4. Problem of depending on respondents is decreased.
5. Helps in understanding the verbal response more efficiently.
6. By using good and modern gadgets – observations can be made continuously and also for a larger duration of time period.
7. Observation is less demanding in nature, which makes it less bias in working abilities.
8. By observation, one can identify a problem by making an in depth analysis of the problems.

Disadvantages of Observation
1. Problems of the past cannot be studied by means of observation.
2. Having no other option one has to depend on the documents available.
3. Observations like the controlled observations require some especial instruments or tools for effective working, which are very much costly.
4. One cannot study opinions by this means.
5. Attitudes cannot be studied with the help of observations.
6. Sampling cannot be brought into use.
7. Observation involves a lot of time as one has to wait for an event to happen to study that particular event.
8. The actual presence of the observer himself Vis a Vis the event to occur is almost unknown, which acts as a major disadvantage of observation.
9. Complete answer to any problem or any issue cannot be obtained by observation alone.

This article has been written by KJ Singh a MBA Graduate from a prestigious Business School In India
Article Published:August 4, 2010
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