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ETHOGRAMS

It is standard practice in ethology to develop an ethogram, or list of behaviors, for a species being studied. It’s painstaking work. Lee and Brewis (2009) spent a summer doing pilot research to develop a list of 37 behaviors associated with foraging by children in a Mexican shantytown. Then they followed 20 children for a total of 15 hours each (watching each child for three blocks of about 5 hours at a time) coding for everything in their list of behaviors. The codes included things like begging, getting a gift of food from a peer, and getting money through informal employment. Some of the behaviors were: being in school, doing chores inside the house, and being en route to or from school or work and household. Figure 14.1 shows a part of one of their observations.

FIGURE 14.1.

Sequence of activities of "Carlos," age 11, Thursday, July 15, 2004 (a sunny day). SOURCE: Lee and Brewis (2009:441).

Kneidinger et al. (2001) studied touching behavior in 119 mostly white, male baseball players and 52 mostly white, female softball players in six major universities in the southeastern United States. Kneidigner et al. developed an ethogram of 37 touching behaviors before they even launched their main study. The touching behaviors included things like tapping gloves, high fives, butt slaps, and chest grabs (‘‘one participant grabs the front of the other participant’s shirt’’).

The main study involved watching and recording 1,961 touching behaviors across 99 innings of baseball for the men and 1,593 touching behaviors across 63 innings of softball for the women. Among the interesting results: Men and women touched each other the same amount after winning games, but women touched each other more than men touched each other after losing games (Kneidinger et al. 2001:52).

 
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