Kimberly’s Human Ethology Assignment

Site:    Hogan’s Irish Pub, 507 Cahaba Heights Circle, Birmingham, AL

Date/Time:  Saturday, February 16, 2010   9:25 p.m.

Environment: Crowded, loud and dimly lit.  Large bar & dance floor, live band

Crowd:  Older adults – average age around 60

Focal Sample:

Subject:    Male, mid-30s, sitting at main bar. Casually dressed, sitting back in bar stool looking relaxed

  • Drinking beer
  • Checking phone/texting
  • Watching women walk by, ignoring men
  • Eyes moving constantly – scanning room
  • Talks to friends but keeps seat between them empty
  • Keeps his eyes on women walking by while talking to friends
  • Orders another beer
  • Checks phone
  • Goes out for a cigarette
  • Comes back in – eyes still scanning constantly
  • Says hello to me as he walks back in (busted!)
  • Sits back in seat and drinks beer
  • Checks phone/texts
  • Small smile at woman who walks by
  • After about 12 minutes of watching this guy check out every woman in the place, a woman (about 60 years old) walks over and asks if she can sit in the seat next to him.
  • He smiles (big smile) and pulls the chair out for her
  • He orders her a drink
  • They talk to each other as they drink.  She turns her bar stool around to look at the dance floor and he does the same.

Scan Sampling:

Three main groups observed:

A.  Three men standing near dance floor

B.  Four older women sitting at the bar – facing dance floor – not bar

C.  Three guys sitting at the bar talking to each other

Scan 1:

A.  Standing, talking loudly, large gestures, drinking beer.  Dressed to impress the ladies

B.  Sitting in barstools, talking to each other and several people who pass by.  Big hair, big makeup, one was wearing a full length mink (no kidding!)

C.  Sitting in bar stools checking out the crowd but not looking at anything in particular, laughing but not in loud or obvious way. Dressed in jeans &t shirts.

Scan 2:

  1. A fourth man has joined the group.  He is as large and loud as the others.  He appears to be telling a story.  Other men are looking at him and around the room as he talks.
  2. Women are still facing the dance floor – talking to each other.  One is on the dance floor.
  3. Watching the basketball game

Scan 3:

  1. Men have moved closer to women at bar.  They aren’t talking to the women but there is eye contact. They are still laughing and talking loudly.

B.        Women are talking to several new people who have arrived

C.        Still watching basketball and talking amongst themselves

Scan 4:

A&B.   Men are now mixed in with women and the new arrivals.

C.        Talking to me and laughing about their friend from the focal sampling who is still hanging out with the older woman.


I chose this bar because it is known to be a pickup place for older people.  I thought it would be interesting to see the differences in what others observed with younger crowds and my observations with an older crowd. At 9:00 things were kind of slow.  I wasn’t even sure my first focal sampling subject would work out, but by 9:30 I had seen four of the five stages of courtship.  (I went longer because he went outside to smoke.)  It was difficult to do the observation at first because my focal subject caught me watching him more than once.  I finally had to position myself so I could pretend to watch basketball while watching him in a mirror.  By then he had already attempted to talk to me twice.  By the end of the scan sampling we were in the middle of the third group I was observing.   A little distance might have been good; however, we were in the middle of a bar on Saturday night at 10:00 so there wasn’t a lot of space.

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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