Cecilia’s Human Ethology Assignment

Date. 2/9/13

Time. 11:40PM-1AM

Location. Bo’s Bar, Tuscaloosa

Environment. The place was dimly lit and very smoky. The majority of people there were fraternity/sorority types, it had a fairly college student atmosphere, and there were clearly more men than woman. Loud music was playing and people were talking, though they were hard to hear even when they yelled. There was a bar with alcohol being served, and an area by the speakers where people were dancing, though it couldn’t be called a dance floor. For my observations I positioned myself near a second bar towards the back of the room by a pool table and some game machines.

Focal Sample. I observed a man who was probably 21-22 since he appeared college age but had a wrist band for purchasing alcohol. He was wearing a green striped shirt, jeans, and tan work boots. He was shorter and a bit plumper than the other men around him, and maintained a fairly blank facial expression which made me wonder if he was intoxicated, though he did not have a drink. For most of the time I watched him, he simply played pool with some male friends of his. He would yell at his friends and circle the pool table occasionally, but he hardly turned his attention away from the game unless someone interacted with him directly, and no females approached him. Despite this apparent focus, he only made one shot the whole game and, like his many failed shots, seemed indifferent about it, making me again wonder if he was somewhat inebriated. After 12 minutes of this, he and his friends abandoned the game and moved towards the dance area, but he stopped short of it to talk to another male friend who was not playing pool with them. He then spoke with a young woman who he seemed to know, moving himself close to her so she could hear him. He then took a sip of beer from someone. A second female came over and put her arm around him, though he appeared to know her as well, and they talked briefly. After scanning the room, he mockingly takes the hat of his friend who is even shorter than he is, but soon returns it and makes his way to the bar.

Scan Sample. In the first scan, most people were standing idly or talking casually with friends. Some people were playing pool, some were at the bar, and a few were sitting on the benches lining the wall. The second scan revealed a group of girls standing in front of me by the edge of the bar, a crowd of men at the bar next to them and several men standing on their other side by the pool tables. People were smoking and drinking, and there was little interaction between the sexes. By the third scan, the room had become significantly more crowded. The group of girls was still concentrated in from of me but some of them were talking to guys from the bar. Several people arrived from across the room, greeting friends with hugs and hellos, and there was a lot of male traffic going from the bar to the dance floor between me and the girls. However, people were still generally standing or sitting idly. In the last scan, the group of girls had moved towards the dance floor, leaving one at the bar among the group of men. The area was more integrated and people were interacting more with one another, though there were still far more males than females.

Analysis. I observed 4 out of the 5 stages in my studies; however, I did not observe these stages in sequence or with the same people. Attention getting was exhibited by the focal subject when he took his friend’s hat and by the group of girls when they positioned themselves in an area of high traffic. Recognition occurred when the group of girls began interacting with the men, and talk happened several times during the study. Touch was observed when a girl put her arm around the focal subject. For most of the focal study, my subject did not seem interested in interacting with the opposite sex and his lack of expression made him very boring.

Author: Johnna Dominguez

Johnna Dominguez earned her BA in Interdisciplinary Studies: Cultural Studies and Body Politics from the University of Alabama's New College in May 2011. In her senior thesis, Johnna explored the embodiment of identity through sexuality and sports by observing and studying Alabama football fans and participants in the local burlesque troupe, the Pink Box Burlesque. In her Master's thesis, she is investigating the psychological and physical stresses associated with southern women who get tattoos. After completing her Master's in Anthropology, she hopes to return to school for a Master's in Public Health.

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