Purpose: The purpose of this assignment is to observe human behavior in a natural setting.
Directions: You will conduct an observation of human interactions in a public place (i.e., a supermarket or nightclub), not a private area (i.e., a bathroom or bedroom). The location of the observation should be posted in the Location of Observation conference. You may ask questions or comment on another student’s location in this conference. You may select a site similar to that chosen by another student. Your site need not specifically be one where there are sexual interactions.
There is wide variation with regard to the content of your observation report, but here is the basic format:
- Background—Include the information your reader needs to put the observation in context. Briefly describe the setting, the emotional climate, the demographic makeup of the participants, and so on, along with any other information you think is pertinent.
- Behavioral Results—Describe in sufficient detail specific behaviors you observed. This component of the paper should answer the question, “What happened in this observation?” and should focus on the factual and visible aspects. You may want to identify the unwritten rules in the setting. For example, in a bar setting, one of the unwritten rules may be that two people pair off and dance on the dance floor. Also, you may want to characterize the behavior of the participants with labels such as “The Flirt” or “1970s Hairstyle.” This material will form the basis for any conclusions you draw in the final section of the paper.
- Conclusions—Draw conclusions based on what you saw during the observation. This section will demonstrate what you learned during the observation. It should connect to the course materials and answer the question, “What can be concluded from what happened in this observation?” Include your opinion of what happened.
Spend no less than one hour and no more than three hours in your observation setting. The entire observation may be completed in one sitting or several.
Depending on your chosen site and the length of your observation, the paper should be about seven to ten pages.