Brook’s Human Ethology Assignment

Arrival: 2/9/13, approx. 10 p.m., the Alcove bar

Environment: cramped, loud (but not boisterous), and dimly lit

People: mostly college students/20-somethings, also some older Tuscaloosa “locals”

1.) Focal Sampling Notes

  • Female, early 20’s, more than likely is a student
  • Heavily drinking PBR—finished one, proceeded to order two more in the 15 minute period
  • Initially, was talking to an older male (40-something) but he hugged her and walked off. After that, she sat alone, drinking
  • Didn’t smile, looked very uncomfortable
  • Posture was slouched over, legs stayed crossed
  • Had big hair and lots of make-up, wore an oversized sweatshirt and Victoria’s Secret leggings
  • Did not seem receptive to being picked up but did scan the room looking around, made awkward eye-contact with me twice

2.) Scan Sampling

  • People are socializing, mainly in groups but some individuals have broken away into what appears to be more intimate conversations
  • Most of the groups that remained ended up leaving/going outside
  • Individuals engaged in the more private, one-on-one conversations remained talking, in the same seats/standing positions


With the focal sampling subject, I was able to observe the stages of recognition, talk, and touch. The subject and the man she was conversing with did share contact (touching hands, arms, back) and from the view minutes I was able to observe of them mid-conversation, they seemed very engaged in one another. When the man suddenly hugged the subject and walked off, she almost instantly seemed to be very insecure and self-conscious of everything going on around her. She was looking around at everyone near the bar where she was seated, and did not seem to hold any sort of eye contact. Her limbs were positioned towards her body (crossed legs and arms) and she just seemed very uncomfortable, almost embarrassed. I think 15 minutes was plenty of time for the focal sampling. She seemed comfortable and confident when someone was paying attention to her, and once they were not she seemed to immediately be flooded with self-consciousness.

With the scan sampling subjects, I had a bit of trouble. I believe that 15 minutes may have not been enough time to fully observe and record any meaningful behavior patterns. From what I did observe, however, all five stages were seen. Groups were getting the attention of other individuals, they all were showing recognition to another person(s), they were talking and touching (hugs, friendly gestures), and certain groups did share some sort of body synchrony, but this was mainly seen once individuals separated away from groups into intimate conversations. It was difficult at certain points to observe these subjects because 1.) There was a large number of people in a small area, and 2.) Writing observations down would sometimes take my attention away from what I was looking for.

If I were to do these observations again, I would allow half an hour for the focal sampling, and a full hour for the scan sampling. I think this would be plenty of time to fully observe and record the five stages.

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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