© 2015 Portell et al. Contextual factors are crucial for evaluative research in psychology, as they provide insights into what works, for whom, in what circumstances, in what respects, and why. Studying behavior in context, however, poses numerous methodological challenges. Although a comprehensive framework for classifying methods seeking to quantify biopsychosocial aspects in everyday contexts was recently proposed, this framework does not contemplate contributions from observational methodology. The aim of this paper is to justify and propose a more general framework that includes observational methodology approaches. Our analysis is rooted in two general concepts: ecological validity and methodological complementarity. We performed a narrative review of the literature on research methods and techniques for studying daily life and describe their shared properties and requirements (collection of data in real time, on repeated occasions, and in natural settings) and classification criteria (eg, variables of interest and level of participant involvement in the data collection process). We provide several examples that illustrate why, despite their higher costs, studies of behavior and experience in everyday contexts offer insights that complement findings provided by other methodological approaches. We urge that observational methodology be included in classifications of research methods and techniques for studying everyday behavior and advocate a renewed commitment to prioritizing ecological validity in behavioral research seeking to quantify biopsychosocial aspects.
- Ambulatory assessment
- Ecological momentary assessment
- Experience sampling method
- Naturalistic observation
- Observational methodology