Human Observation Project

Human Observation Project

a. To provide students opportunity to apply scientific method to a study of human behavior.
b. To provide working models for key terms.
c. To provide experience in application of behavior change theories.
The Observation Project should consist of a minimum of five typed pages. Information should be provided for each section of the following outline. Write in complete sentences, use good English grammar, and correct spelling.
The project is divided into two sections: (1) gathering of baseline information and (2) behavior change. Charts and graphs are part of an "A" paper, but are not part of the basic page count of the project. References to outside sources are also part of an A or B level paper. APA documentation style must be used when citing references in context and bibliography. Google "" for help or simply use the style (APA) used by Dr. Feldman in writing your textbook. Note: Dr. Feldman places the author’s last name, a comma, the year of publication within ( ) as he discusses concepts and research. He then places the complete reference at the end of the book. For example, look closely at page 61 under "The Structure of the Neuron." At the end of the second paragraph you will find (Boahen, 2005). If you go to the References at the end of the book, page R-6 you will find:
Boahen, K. (2005, May). Neuromorphic microchips. Scientific American, pp. 56-64. (APA does not require pp. for pages).
Simply follow his design.
Avoid personal pronouns and statements such as "I believe, I placed the coin on the floor…, my research proved that…." In objective, naturalistic research you opinion is not very important, but your findings are. Your research may suggest that…, support the hypothesis…, or indicate….; but it does not necessarily prove anything.
Baseline Information
I. State the Problem Include description of any research which is related to the subject selected. (For example: Dr. Robert XYZ of Harvard University found that students’ failure to maintain eye contact was strongly correlated with increased freshman depression.) Use APA style documentation described above to cite the source.
Select a behavior that can be easily observed and counted. The selection process is the most difficult part of the observation project.
II. Theory Statement of relationship or cause and effect. (Examples: Adults tend to avert their gaze when meeting another adult while walking in a public place. More males will pick up money from the ground than females. Males are less concerned with hygiene than females.)
III. Hypothesis (Example: Between the hours of 2:00 and 4:00 on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons adults walking from building 104 to the library on the CTC campus will fail to make eye contact with on-coming adults.) Include operational definitions. (Example: Eye contact is defined as 5 seconds of sustained gaze. Subjects are classified as adults if they are 17 years of age or older.) Operationalize the hypothesis. (On Saturday afternoons between the hours of 1:00 and 3:00 more adult males than females over the age of twenty will pick up a quarter on the floor in front of the main entrance of Sears.)
IV. Procedure or Methodology Describe the steps taken to sample behavior. (Example: The investigator disguised himself as a bush between building 104 and the library in order to complete a naturalistic observation. An assistant was trained to observe traffic in the opposite direction. Stop watches were used to time the length of each gaze. Only subjects without glasses were selected for the study. The behavior samples were taken between 1:00 and 2:00 on Monday and Wednesday afternoon. A tally sheet was used to record behavior.)
V. Results How many samples were gathered? (Example: Fifty qualified subjects, having no glasses and being 17 years of age or older, walked between building 104 and the library between the hours of 1:00 and 2:00 on Monday afternoon. Five of the subjects maintained gaze with on-coming subjects for 5 seconds or more. It was observed that only 10% of the qualified subjects maintained eye contact while others were observed to look away, read while walking, or appeared to be day dreaming….) Charts may be added to the discussion and will count toward the quality of the paper, but not as one of the six minimum requirement pages. Include appropriate age and gender comparisons.
VI. Discussion In paragraph form describe the results and discuss the what the finding indicate about human behavior. (The results indicate that adults walking across the CTC campus do not maintain eye contact with an oncoming adults. Aversion of gaze breaks relationship and isolates one person from another…. Since thirty percent of the subjects were distracted by cell phones, ten percent texting and twenty percent speaking and listening, technology may have a role in eye contact between adults walking across campus.)
Behavior Change
VII. State the Problem. (Example: Observation results (your observation) support the theory that students at CTC are not as friendly as they should be. According to the previously cited study by Dr. XYZ this could increase depression on campus, especially among freshmen.) Be specific. What needs to be changed?
VIII. Theory Statement of relationship or cause and effect. (Examples: Adults tend to maintain their gaze when meeting another adult who smiles and speaks while walking in a public place. Both males and females will pick up money from the ground if it is of higher value that ten cents. Males will increase their concern with hygiene if the negative effects are demonstrated visually. )
IX. Hypothesis Include operational definitions. (Example: Adults walking from building 104 to the library on the CTC campus will maintain eye contact with on-coming adult if the on-coming adult smiles directly at the subject and presents a verbal greeting of "Good afternoon, how is it going?" Once again define eye contact and adult. Include definitions related to the behavior change.)
X. Procedure or Methodology Include a step by step description of the procedure. Volunteers from psychology 2301 were trained by the investigator to maintain eye contact of 5 seconds or more and provide verbal greeting. Greetings included "Hi, how are you?…" Include the time, day of the week, and the manner in which the count was made as described under IV.)
XI. Results How many samples were gathered? What was the count? Was there a gender or age comparison. Carts may be included. See V.
XII. Discussion Explain what the results indicated about behavior and the relationship to other human behaviors. What outside influences could have affected the behavior? For example: observing eye contact of subjects walking across campus could easily be affected by weather conditions. For example, the observation of aggressive behavior of children at Chuck E. Cheese could be influences by the crowded conditions or the type of music in the background. What should the next step be in researching the problem? Good research may generate more questions than answers.
Subject Suggestions
The following are some of the topics which have been used successfully by students.
Door opening (with and without packages or books), eye contact, falling asleep in class, stop light running, picking up money someone has dropped, using the wrong door, checking personal appearance in shop windows at the mall or the rear view mirror at a stop light, changing channels on a television in a public place, hand washing in a public restroom, treatment by sales people as it relates to the appearance of a customer, tipping, purchasing the larger size meal or "full meal deal," the most used shelf in the grocery store, classroom behavior of adults and children, walking through the mall with toilet paper stuck to a shoe, talking in the library, looking at the ceiling in the middle of the mall, verbal behavior of recruits, punctuality of employees, snacks eaten on break, assisting a mother who drops a baby bottle.
Do Not
Place a baby carrier on top of a car and drive around the mall counting the people who attempt to help. Stop a car on the highway and count the people who stop to assist. Drive extremely slowly on a highway to observe tail gating. Follow drunks to their car to observe key finding behavior.
The subject of the observation must be safe and academic in nature.

Project Suggestions
The following is a list of topics which have been used in the past. You may select from the list or develop one of your own. Select a behavior which you encounter each day. The greatest challenge is isolating or narrowing the behavior to a single event which you can define,count, and attempt to change or observe as changed in a different environment.
Eye contact
Hand washing
Door opening for others
Money on the ground
Cleaning off the table after you eat in a fast food restaurant
Response time of clerks when the researcher dresses poorly or nicely
Tips – restaurant, beauty salon, etc.
Helpful behavior when toilet paper is attached to the researchers shoe in a public place.
Hand waving when driving down a country road
Changing television stations in a public waiting room
Products purchased from shelves of different height
Color of products purchased
Seating behaviors in school cafeteria or restaurant
Stop light running
Use of cell phones in school areas
Use of cell phones while driving
Purchasing one item or the "full meal deal" at a fast food restaurant
Human responses to walking dogs of different sizes or breeds.
Human response to "Don’t walk on the grass!" signs.
Driver behavior while waiting on a stop light (make-up, hair combing using rear view mirror)
Assistance reaching items from the top shelf
Dropping a dollar while walking through Walmart…will someone return the dollar. (Can be an expensive project.)
Returning shopping carts to the proper areas
Smiling or waving "thank you" when a car stops to allow shoppers to cross in the parking lot
Behavior in the check out line: smiling, conversation…
The behavior of children in the check out line (pulling things from shelves, yelling, smiling, climbing out of cart….)
Behavior of children in a classroom (talking, out of seat, interrupting, turning in homework….)
Place a baby carrier on top of a car and drive around the mall parking lot to see if someone will attempt to stop you.
Stop your car by the side of the road to see if someone might stop and assist.
Attempt a tail gating experiment of any kind.
Select any behavior which might be harmful, socially offensive, or immoral.


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