As now recognised by many investigators in different branches of psychology and in other related disciplines, observational methods deserve a special role in our inquiring systems. There is something captured by human observers that eludes other procedures. This book is designed to provide an introduction to scientific methods of observing child behaviour that stresses what it means to deal with observational data. After briefly discussing the relationship between theory and observation, a historical sketch of observational research in developmental psychology is presented. It serves to appreciate the new demands for observational procedures raised by the change in the meaning of the term. To set observational methods in the methodological field, alternatives like interviews and psychometric tests follow and, focusing on observational methods, the major forms of observing are presented in length, with respect to the position of the observer and the scope of the observations. Finally, one of these forms, the coding scheme, is elucidated in detail. The primary audience of this book consists of undergraduate students who face the observational matter for the first time, but it should prove useful and appealing also for parents and social practitioners.
1. Observation as a problem. - 2. What means to observe: a historical sketch. - 3. Possible sources of empirical data. - 4. The observational source. - 5. The observer-observed relationship. - 6. The observer-observation relationship. - 7. Observing through a coding scheme. - References. - Subject index.
Tiziana Aureli is a researcher at the Department
of Developmental Psychology at La Sapenza University of Rome.