Pros and cons


  • Observational procedures are flexible and allow researchers to record factors related to physical activity behavioural such as:

    - behavioural cues
    - environmental conditions
    - the presence of significant others
    - availability of toys and equipment (Trost, 2007)

  • Observation can be used as a process or an outcome measure, hence is valuable to researchers and those undertaking interventions or practitioners


  • The method is highly burdensome for observers and is labour intensive and expensive
  • Observers must be well trained
  • The data coding is laborious using older paper and pen instruments
  • Observation can only be undertaken in controlledsettings and therefore can only measure physical activity in one domain at a time
  • The presence of an observer may lead to a reactivity effect leading to a change in usual behaviour. Repeated measures may reduce the potential effect of reactivity (Trost, 2007).


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