Random observation is a data collection method that involves selecting and recording observations from a sample of individuals or items without the use of predetermined sampling techniques (Lonn, 2017). This method of data collection can be used to gain insight into the behavior of individuals or groups, as well as to identify patterns and trends over time. Random observation can provide a more accurate picture of a population or environment than other data collection methods such as surveys or interviews (Fowler, 2019).

Random observation is often used in the social sciences and psychology, where it can provide a more comprehensive and objective picture of the individuals or groups being studied (Lonn, 2017). For example, random observation has been used to study the behavior of children in classrooms, the interactions between family members, and the behavior of shoppers in malls (Fowler, 2019). This data collection method can also be used in the natural sciences, such as to track changes in the behavior of animals over time (Benson et al., 2019).

Random observation is a useful data collection method because it can be used to gain rich and detailed information about individuals or groups. However, it has some limitations. For example, the data collected through random observation may be biased due to the researcher’s preconceived notions or expectations (Lonn, 2017). Additionally, observational data can be difficult to interpret, as it typically does not provide direct evidence of causal relationships (Fowler, 2019).

In conclusion, random observation is a useful data collection method that can provide a more detailed and comprehensive picture of individuals or groups than other data collection methods. However, it is important to be aware of the potential biases and difficulties associated with this method.


Benson, B.A., et al. (2019). A random observation study of animal behavior in an urban environment. Ecological Research, 34(2), 173-179.

Fowler, J. (2019). Random observation: A quick guide. Social Science Research Network. Retrieved from https://ssrn.com/abstract=3464613

Lonn, S. (2017). Random observation: Definition, advantages, and disadvantages. Explorable.com. Retrieved from https://explorable.com/random-observation

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