Observation of Public Behavior
The IRB is not concerned with research on human subjects that involves observations of public behavior--for example, if you are standing on a street corner and observing the behavior of people walking or driving by. You do not need IRB approval for this kind of study, so long as the subjects are not observed in a place where they would reasonably expect privacy (e.g., their homes).
Everyone has the unlimited right to watch people in public and draw conclusions about their behavior; as humans, we do it all the time.
- Some kinds of observational research involving children or vulnerable public do require IRB approval.