Distinguishing Between Observation & Interpretation

Observation and interpretation are essential techniques for gathering information in experiments where inferences are made and hypotheses are tested for accuracy. Though related, these two methods are not the same and have distinct differences. This article aims to outline the basic contrasts between these two fundamental information-gathering methods.

Observation refers to the act of simply watching and noting values in a scientific experiment or recording what one sees and reporting it without adding any personal opinions or values. It is concerned only with the “what” and “how much” aspects of a subject or object, not the “why.” To make observations more objective and remove errors caused by subjective perception, scientists developed standardized instruments to record values.

Key Takeaways

  • Observation and interpretation are two essential techniques for gathering information in experiments.
  • Observation involves watching and noting values without adding personal opinions or values, while interpretation requires making sense of observations by adding one’s own judgment.
  • Scientific instruments were invented to make observations more objective and standardized.

Interpretation, on the other hand, involves generating or gathering information to arrive at a conclusion in an experiment by making sense of what is observed. It requires observation but also includes adding one’s opinions, remarks, or judgments to the observation. Some observations are complete in themselves and do not require further explanation, while others rely on the experimenter’s ability to make sense of what they see, which is considered interpretation.

In summary, observation involves using one’s senses to report information, while interpretation involves using one’s brain to make sense of that information. An observation is what you see without adding your judgment, but if you add “how” and “why” to the observation, you are making an interpretation. Both observation and interpretation are used by anthropologists and other researchers to arrive at conclusions, and scientific tools have been developed to make observations more objective and standardized.

Maria Nguyen
Maria Nguyen
Maria Nguyen is a talented writer with a flair for developing captivating content in a range of formats. Her commitment to thorough research and producing top-notch material has contributed to over 4 years of professional writing and editing experience. Outside of work, Maria finds pleasure in solitary activities and immersing herself in nature. Her introspective nature and passion for self-reflection inspire her creativity. She believes that spending time alone and observing the natural world can provide valuable insights and foster personal growth, broadening her perspective as a writer.


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