In continuous monitoring, or CM, or focal follows, you watch a person, or group of people, and record their behavior as faithfully as possible. The technique was developed in the field of management by Charles Babbage, the 19th-century mathematician who invented the computer. He studied the behavior of workers in a factory and determined that a pound of number 11 straight pins (5,546 of them) should take exactly 7.6892 hours to make (Niebel 1982:4; original: Babbage 1835:184).

CM is widely used in assessing the quality of human interactions—between, for example, adolescent girls and their mothers (Baril et al. 2009), workers and employers (Sproull 1981), the police and civilians (Sykes and Brent 1983), clinical professors and young physicians (Graffam et al. 2008) (Further Reading: continuous monitoring).

CM is the core method of ethology (Hutt and Hutt 1970; Lorenz 1981). Most ethologists study nonhuman animals (everything from moths to fish to chimpanzees), but Darwin (1998 [1872]) used direct observation of facial expressions to study emotions in humans and animals—an area of interest ever since (Ekman 1973, 1980; Leeland 2008). CM is a mainstay in behavioral psychology for assessing anxieties and phobias (Harb et al. 2003), and it has been used to study how people eat (Stunkard and Kaplan 1977; Zive et al. 1998) and how people use architectural space (Bechtel 1977). CM is a staple method in the study of how hunters and fishermen make a living (Aswani 2005; Bird et al. 2009; Hawkes et al. 1991; Koster 2007) and how children learn to hunt and forage (Hewlett and Lamb 2005). CM is one of the all-around varsity methods (Further Reading: ethology and human ethology).

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