Kelsey’s Human Ethology Assignment

Observing from a table while eating.

Environment:It’s a restaurant/bar with dim-moderate lighting, college student atmosphere, slightly busy and noisy; There were many people who seem associated with a fraternity. It is more difficult to distinguish which “type” girls were because most are dressed up (more so than your typical school day).The restaurant had a lively vibe. There are TVs playing sports.

Focal Sample: Female, with four other girls at table near bar. She was drinking. Her table received a beer pitcher. She talks to her friends and she actually seems to be dominating the conversation. In the first five minutes of the sample she gets up from the table two times. The first time was to go to the bathroom. When she came out I observed her pulling down on her dress. The dress was short and black with regular sleeves and a rather low neckline. She also had on heels. She arched her back provocatively when she walked and sat. Once she got back to her table she talks with her friends some more, this time she is glancing around the restaurant more. She is smiling at what her friends are saying. She continuously looks over to the bar. She notices two guys at the bar and hops up for the second time to go talk to them. She seems to only know one of the guys.  She greets him, they act like friends. The second guy that she doesn’t seem to know just stared at her while she talked to guy #1. She actually stands for about 6 min talking. She seems to be wearing out her welcome on guy # 1 but guy #2 still looks at her as though intrigued. She seemed to be trying to flirt with the first guy and by doing this she got the attention of the second guy. She returned to the table because her food was there. She stayed there the remaining time. Throughout she exhibited receptive behaviors like staring and playful gestures and even by dominating the conversation at her table.

Scan sampling:

Trial One: The majority of the people are sitting at tables ordering food and eating. A good amount of tables are also drinking. There is a couple at the bar. The guy is texting while the girl is looking around the room observing and letting herself get distracted by the workers at the bar. The guy #1 from the focal sample appears to have had a girlfriend show up. There is a large party table with many fraternity members and a few girls. This group got noisy at this time. At another table, girls walk by and recognize a girl that is seated and eating. The girl gets up and hugs each friend and all act over-excited. At this time most of the workers seem busy at work or gazing alone behind the bar.

Trial 2:  The couple that was seated at the bar left. They didn’t spend much more time there but to eat. The large noisy table gets increasingly louder. It seemed that they were done eating but were going to stay a while and drink and socialize. A lot of tables are doing this currently. A new group of girls dressed in small dresses and heels obviously drunk if you were observing and hugging on some of the boys in the large noisy group. There is a group of guys who appear to be in their mid-twenties have ordered beer bottles at a table and for the most part talk about the sports and watch them on the TVs. They cheer at appropriate times for their teams. They have an attractive waitress and they pay good attention to her when she takes their order and seem like they are polite.

Trial Three: The girl and her group of friends from the focal sample are now standing up to leave. The girl walked over to the guys at the bar she previously spoke to and also greeted guy #1’s girlfriend and said goodbye. Her friends walk out of the restaurant without her. A couple of older men are now seated at a table near the bar drinking beers, they scan the room occasionally. There is a family with a mom, dad, college student, and younger child eating and chatting. Most of the older groups keep to themselves while the college students socialize from table to table. There are several tables with people who are in business casual clothes eating and chatting at tables, perhaps a business party. 

Trial Four: The restaurant is getting less busy at this time.  Both children from the family mentioned in trial three get up and go find the bathroom. During this time I observed the parents to see if behavior changed. The woman laid her head on her husband’s  shoulder  for a moment and they shared a quick kiss. The older men mentioned in trial three seeming to be teasing their waitress (also an attractive waitress). They laugh loud at their own jokes that make her slightly flustered. The large noisy group is no longer loud or noisy. It has died down but there are few girls and guys who seem to be planning what to do next.

Analysis: There were examples of attention-getting, recognition, talk, and touchingin the scan andfocal sampling observations. The only full body sync may be observed in the married couple.There was also a lot of gazing observed for example in the focal sample when guy # two stares at the focal sample. And the girl in the couple at the bar who gazed around the room, seemingly bored with her phone-absorbed boyfriend.

-Some attention-getting behavior includes the old men poking fun at the waitress,the focal sample girl saying goodbye to a guy who has a girlfriend to possibly try to get the attention of the second guy, the men cheering for their respective sports teams, the intoxicated girls’ provocative outfits and girls acting over-excited to have run into each other.

-There was recognition between the focal sample girl and the guys, particularly the second guy who looked at her for a long amount of time. There was also recognition between husband and wife who met eyes before kissing. It also appeared with the intoxicated girls and the guys in the large noisy group.

-Talk was happening constantly with many of the groups in most trials.

-Touch happened mostly in the form of greeting hugs but was also observed between husband and wife kissing and laying heads on shoulders and also in the focal sample when the girl was flirting with guy number one in the form of playful hitting and shoving.

These stages were observed pretty well WITHIN the given observation times by different people at different times. And the range of relationships observed added variety to the examples of these stages of human mating behavior.

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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