A comparison of various methods of recording behavior



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Although observation and interviewing techniques have been increasing in frequency of use for the past 20 years, no work has been reported comparing the different methods used in observation studies. Moreover, little has been published comparing interviews and observational techniques to determine their relative efficacy. This study deals with comparisons of two methods of observing behavior with each other and with parental interviews. Twenty-eight volunteer families were obtained from lists of church members in Houston, Texas. They were invited to eat supper in a clinic setting which included two observers who coded a target-child's behavior and his interaction with the family. Following the meal, the parents were interviewed about events that occurred during the meal as they related to the target-child. Codings of the transcribed interviews were compared with the continuous recording and time sampling record. Reliability levels between continuous recording and time sampling ranged from .61 to .99 and were discussed as being acceptable limits for the number of categories involved. Although the time sampling record was culled from the continuous recording protocol so as to produce a record of seven second observation intervals followed by 35 seconds of rest, time sampling and continuous recording were significantly correlated for all comparisons. The data indicated that the disadvantages of time sampling were not as critical for this situation as originally thought. It was concluded that a researcher interested in a similar setting could use time sampling and obtain results similar to those obtained by continuous recording. Parental interviews, however, were not related significantly with either time sampling or continuous recording, indicating that caution should be used in accepting parents' reports of frequencies of behaviors of a target-child.



Psychology--Methodology, Human behavior