Observation

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Related to observational: Observational study, Observational learning

observation

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a. a sight taken with an instrument to determine the position of an observer relative to that of a given heavenly body
b. the data so taken

Observation

 

a method for obtaining information about the enemy, the location and action of friendly troops, and the nature of the terrain.

Observation is organized and conducted by all combat arms and special forces in all types of combat. Ground and air observation is supplemented by data obtained through artillery reconnaissance, sound ranging, radar, and signal communications. Optical instruments, such as binoculars, stereoscopic telescopes, range finders, and periscopes, are used for observation. At night and in other conditions of restricted visibility, night-vision instruments and illuminating devices are used, such as searchlights and illuminating flares.


Observation

 

deliberate and purposeful perception that is conditioned by the need to solve a problem.

As a specifically human act, observation differs fundamentally from the various forms of perception among animals. Historically, observation has developed as part of the labor process, which involves the establishment of a correspondence between the product of labor and its planned ideal image. As society and the labor process become more complex, observation emerges as a relatively independent aspect of activity (scientific observation, the reading of information off instruments, and observation as part of the artistic process). As science develops, observation becomes more complex and dependent on mechanical aids.

The basic requirements of scientific observation are unity of purpose, uniform methodology, and objectivity (that is, the possibility of control by means of repeated observation or by other methods of investigation, such as experimentation). At the same time, observation is usually also part of the experimental procedure. Interpretation of the results of observation acquires increasingly prominent importance, because in modern science generalizations are seldom made at the level of observable facts, which may consist only of signs or symptoms of the phenomena under study (such as a curve on an oscillograph, or an electroencephalogram).

Observation in the social sciences presents a special problem, since the results of such observation depend to a great extent on the observer’s personality, purpose, and attitude toward his object. Depending on the observer’s position in relation to the phenomenon observed, a distinction is made in sociology and social psychology between simple, or ordinary, observation, when events are registered “from the outside,” and participant, or involved, observation, when the researcher becomes part of a particular social milieu, adapts to it, and analyzes events as if “from within.”

In psychology, observation itself becomes the object of study. It has been established that the quality of observation is basically determined by the observer’s attitude toward and understanding of the task set. Self-observation (introspection), which is a particular kind of observation, is applied in psychology as a method of research. Perceptiveness as a personal quality sometimes appears as an inborn character trait; but, in order to be put to full use, this trait must be given a specific direction.

REFERENCES

Basov, M. Ia. Metodika psikhologicheskikh nabliudenii nad det’mi, 3rd ed. Moscow-Leningrad, 1926.
Rogovin, M. S. Vvedenie v psikhologiiu. Moscow, 1969. Chapter 6.
Iadov, V. A. Sotsiologicheskoe issledovanie: Metodologiia, programma, melody. Moscow, 1972. Chapter 4, paragraph 1.

M. S. ROGOVIN


Observation

 

determination of the geographical coordinates of a vessel on the ocean from sightings of objects with known coordinates. Observations are made by navigational methods (according to landmarks noted on a map or signals from radio beacons or radio navigation systems, by means of navigation artificial earth satellites, or by nautical astronomy using heavenly bodies whose coordinates are given in the Nautical Almanac). All methods of observation result in graphic determination of a point on a chart or analytical computation of its coordinates. Periodic observations are needed to check the accuracy of dead reckoning.

observation (meteorological)

The evaluation of one or more meteorological elements (ICAO).
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