There have been great examples in history that show the importance of naturalistic observation. The first example is that of Charles Darwin who based his entire book, The Voyage of the Beagle on his travel makes remarkable observations related to anthropology, biology and geology. The second example is of Jane Goodall who observed chimpanzees and showed through her research a complete new way of research. The third important study was conducted by Rosenhan in which he sent sane people to a psychiatric hospital to assess whether people could distinguish the sane from the insane. To his surprise people could not distinguish between the two.
Jennifer Koen found in her research that despite the legislation against racial segregation a number of observational studies in Africa revealed that informal segregation in universities which prevents cross racial friendships.
A major advantage of using this method is it minimizes the possibility of demand characteristics and social desirability effect because participants do not know they are being observed. It is extremely valuable if used as a preliminary tool as it helps formulate a hypothesis. Moreover, if used after experimentation it can help validate results or formulate a new hypothesis. Also, in certain situations naturalistic observation is the only solution. For instance, to study the effects of imprisonment on human behavior it would be unethical to forcefully imprison people hence, observing existing prisoners is the only option. Another advantage of using naturalistic observation is that certain species find it difficult to adapt to laboratory environment or it is costly to use these animals.