Direct observation is a method used in the exploratory and descriptive research. Observation consists in the systematic recording and viewing patterns of people’s behavior or other objects, in order to collect information on the subject of the search. The observer does not ask or communicate with people who are being observed, only take notes about people´s behavior, generally, according to an observation grid.
In some researches where the object of study is not people but other targets (eg. the layout of a store), the observer records the observations according a matrix previously planned.
This type of research can be structured or unstructured – in the first case is specified what and should be observed and recorded the observations; in the second case, the observer notes the aspects that seem important to the problem under consideration. This second method requires a great deal of experience of the observer and is applicable in areas where there is no prior knowledge on the subject, generally, to prepare a structured research later.
The observation can be done under real or simulated environment, depending on the problem in question.