Note: your AI will explain this assignment to you in discussion section during the week of September 20. You will have three weeks to complete the assignment. It will be due during your discussion section the week of October 11. (If you cannot attend your discussion that week, make arrangements with your AI to turn it in BEFORE it is due.)
Field primatologists face a number of challenges. He or she must locate subjects, habituate them to the presence of an observer without disrupting their natural behavior, and learn to recognize individual animals. Only then can the primatologist begin "data collection" -- making behavioral observations in a systematic way.
There are two problems --
1) you need to maintain objectivity as an observer ... not just watch the most "interesting" animal
2) it is impossible to see and record everything ... particularly if many primates are together in a group
Therefore, all primatologists use SAMPLING techniques to record their data. There are different types of sampling methods primatologists emply. We will use a technique called SCAN SAMPLING. (Click to open a PDF file describing the method with a simple example of how it can be applied.)
It is only by collecting data systematically in this way that primatologists can describe and summarize the complex behaviors of primates. Observation sampling lets primatologists measure natural behavior. and later address interesting comparative questions, such as:
The goal of this assignment is to study humans the way a primatologist would, both to give you an understanding of the methods primatologists use in the field, and also to help you look at humans from a different perspective.
1) Pretend that you are a primatologist from another planet. You have just arrived on earth, and have taken the form of an IU student. You are amazed by life among IU college students, and you are sure that it must be different from the lives of other people. But most of your ideas about life off-campus come from either watching TV, or from other strange settings, like the Shopping Mall.
What is human behavior really like? Develop a comparative hypothesis about a simple behavioral question, and test it by collecting primatological data on samples of these earthlings. Note: YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND ENGLISH... you will have to interpret human behavior on the basis of what you see people doing, not on what you hear them say. Of course, actions often speak lounder than words.
Here are some example hypotheses. You can use one of these, or develop your own. Pick a narrow question about a common behavior that will be easy for you to observe. (Talk with your AI about a good research question, if you aren't sure.) Note that each of these hypotheses divides humans into two groups to compare for the purpose of your study.
IMPORTANT: Get the approval of your AI for your hypothesis before you collect your data!
2) Now that you have chosen a question, design your field study to sample the human behavior you will need to test your hypothesis. Since your hypothesis is comparative, you will need to collect two samples of data. For example, if your hypothesis is "IU males and females eat different types of food" you will need to pick a study site where IU students are feeding (e.g. in a dining hall) and choose a way to systematically observe both males and females feeding.
Make your observations at timed intervals, using the "scan sampling" method (click here to get a description of the method and a sample data sheet). Plan to collect at least 100 observations for each sample (e.g. 100 males and 100 females in this case) to make your comparison interesting. It shouldn't take too long; if you make 1 scan of at least 4 individuals every 30 seconds, you can collect your entire dataset in less than one hour. Plan to turn-in your raw data sheets as part of the assignment.
3) Summarize your data results, either in one or two tables or a graph. For example, if you compared the activity patterns of two different groups, summarize the percentage of your total observations of each group that fell into each activity category (e.g. "15% of time observed drinking from cup" "35% : talking in a group" "10%: talking in a pair" etc).
4) Evaluate your hypothesis on the basis of the data your collected. We don't expect a statistical analysis of your data, of course. But you should discuss any patterns you see in the data, and how they might relate to your original hypothesis. Did you discover anything about these earthlings that surprized you, or did your preconception match your results, do you think? Do your results "make sense" to you? Explain your reasoning.
5) Evaluate your study. If you had to investigate the same question again, would you do it the same way, or use a different approach? Why? Was it difficult to approach humans as "animals" to be observed? Why? Do you think your results were biased in any way? Or do you think a different primatologist would have recorded exactly the same observations you did? Why?
Your finished report should be typed on a computer and include:
We will ask you to turn in parts A-C above in both a paper AND an electronic version. You will be given specific instructions on how to do this using the TURNITIN.COM website.