2023-2024 / STAT0174-1

Procedures for the measured observation of behaviour


15h Th, 15h Pr

Number of credits

 Master in psychology (120 ECTS)3 crédits 


André Ferrara

Language(s) of instruction

French language

Organisation and examination

Teaching in the first semester, review in January


Schedule online

Units courses prerequisite and corequisite

Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program

Learning unit contents

In psychology and ethology, we are regularly brought to observe behavior. The rigorous and systematic observation of behavior is a scientific investigation tool which makes it possible to quantify the relevant behavioral units retained.
As in a second step these behavioral data are generally analyzed statistically to test various hypotheses, it is important to ensure the quality of the data collected.

The objective of the course is therefore to learn behavior observation techniques and, for each of them, to examine their advantages and limitations.
Classical notions of validity and fidelity of behavior observation will be studied.

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

Know and understand the advantages and limitations of behavioral observation techniques.
Knowing how to correctly establish a behavior observation grid.
Know how to use a behavioral observation software.
Know the criteria for a good planning of an observation.
Know the criteria for correct writing in a research report of the methodological aspects related to the observation of behavior.
Know how to calculate and interpret an inter-observer fidelity index.

Prerequisite knowledge and skills

Planned learning activities and teaching methods

Face-to-face and/or MS Teams.
Compulsory reading (observation techniques, bias prevention measures, validity and reliability, ARRIVE guidelines).
Use of a software dedicated to the observation of behavior (observation from videos).
R or SAS use for the calculation of interobserver fidelity and critical thinking relative to the use of indexes linked to this interobserver fidelity.
Correct mention of everything related to behavioral observation in the methodological section of a research report.
Contextualization of the observation work requested as part of a research work carried out in our laboratory (memory and anxiety study).

Mode of delivery (face to face, distance learning, hybrid learning)

Face-to-face or virtual via eCampus Collaborate: both options are possible.

Recommended or required readings

The theoretical course is based in part on the book by P. Martin & P. Bateson: "Measuring behavior. An introductory guide. Third Edition" (2007; Cambridge).
A few articles directly selected from the scientific literature will also serve as additional reading on one or other of the questions addressed during the oral course. These documents can be found on eCampus.

Written work / report

Additional information:

Observation of behavior from videos and writing of a report in connection with this practical work which integrates the theoretical and practical notions seen during the course.
Namely :
Use of BORIS for the quantification of exploratory behavior.
Write a report (see eCampus for further details) dealing with the implementation of the ORT test, the issue of concordance between observers and general conclusion regarding the data collected. (Report to be submitted by December 31 (1st session) by August 15 (2nd session) at the latest).

Work placement(s)

Organisational remarks and main changes to the course

The behavior observation tool can be used from a computer in our laboratory or from a personal computer (we will help you install it).


André FERRARA : a.ferrara@uliege.be or 04/366.22.32

Association of one or more MOOCs