In the observational method the investigator is a direct observer of sexual behavior

In the observational method the investigator is a direct observer of sexual behavior

Observational Method. These observations may take place in field settings or in laboratories. This particular method, however, has had a very limited application so far because of the requirement of privacy that shrouds sexual experience in many cultures (Katchadourian, 1989). An example of observational research is when psychologists observe the patterns of nonverbal communication and body language among couples in dating situations (Rathus et al., 1993). Researchers can also interact with the people whose behavior they are recording, this is deemed the participant observation method. One major limitation of this method is the possibility that the behavior under study may be altered by the participant because of the presence of the observer (i.e., observer effect). In other words, the participants’ behavior may consciously be changed to “fit” with what they believe the observer is seeking.

Human Sexual Response (1966) by William Masters and Virginia Johnson is one of the seminal studies examining the sexual behavior of humans via the observation method. Despite the controversy engendered by the method of their study, it gave a reliable picture of what happens to the body during sexual behavior.

Allows the researcher to examine the relationship between variables of interest

Experimental Method. Experiments permit researchers to draw causal conclusions between the independent variable and dependent variable. One example of this method is exposing participants to sexually arousing materials while instruments monitor physiological responses (Katchadourian, 1989). The particular limitations of this study seem obvious, in that, one cannot manipulate many variables of interest directly because of ethical standards. Continue reading …