Skip to main content

Table 2 Advantages and challenges of different settings for the observation of behavioral eating and feeding

From: Methodological considerations for observational coding of eating and feeding behaviors in children and their families

Setting Examples Advantages Challenges
Naturalistic Home mealtimes, restaurants • Hawthorne effect may be somewhat lessened in a more familiar naturalistic environment
• Repeated measures more easily obtained
• Provides glimpse into participants’ “real world” behaviors and environment
• Many participants can collect data at the same time (can send out multiple video cameras to multiple families)
• Greater potential for lost data
• Video and audio quality not assured
• Protocol or meals are not standardized and therefore are more variable
• Additional participants need to have informed consent completed
• Resource intensive
• Cannot measure amount of food eaten by each individual
Laboratory Structured laboratory settings • Controlled laboratory environment
• Environment can be standardized or manipulated to answer specific questions
• Video and audio files in control of the research team
• Able to measure amount of food consumed
• If multiple laboratory settings exist, can run several participants at once
• Hawthorne effect heightened
• May be difficult for participants to travel to the location
• Technical issues (video camera, equipment failure)
• Difficult to obtain repeated measures
Semi-naturalistic Laboratories set up as restaurants, or dining room/kitchen spaces • Hawthorne effect theoretically lessened
• Controlled laboratory environment
• Environment can be standardized or manipulated to answer specific questions
• Video and audio files in control of the research team
• Able to measure amount of food consumed
• Resource intensive – few facilities exist
• Technical challenges with regard to hidden cameras, microphones
• May be difficult for participants to travel to the location
• Scheduling of facilities (only one family/individual can use the facility at a time)
• Difficult to obtain repeated measures