Naturalistic observation involves recording subjects' naturally occurring behavior while they are in their natural environment. This experiment revolves around this type of observation. Specifically, it involves the observation of the various human dyads (male-female, male-male, female-female,) social interaction, within in a public environment. Focal points of observation included conversation space (distance between individuals heads,), and body language.
All behaviors were observed in an unobtrusive manner.
The acceptable distance for a conversation between adults is greatly affected by the cultural background of the participants and the gender of those involved (Hall, 1966, Reidhead, Good, & Stopka, 1984; Sommer, 1969). Previous work has shown that, "observational studies in real life situations have found that individuals in Arab and Latin American countries, in general, stand significantly closer to one another during conversations than do Americans and Northern Europeans (e.g., Hall, 1966; Sanders, Hakky, & Brizzolara, 1985). Within the American culture, studies have shown that male-female dyads stand closest, female-female dyads are intermediate, and male-male dyads are most distant (e.g., Baxter, 1970; Sommer, 1962).
Based upon these former studies, observation was undergone in roughly the same manner, with a new hypothesis in mind. The hypothesis is that when engaged in conversation, male-female dyads make more of overt effort to appear interested in conversation. Since actual conversing was not overheard, and distance between individuals was virtually irrelevant, the significant variables in this study are measurements of specific types of body language, ones that connote interest, and attention.
Participants were a total of 30 separate dyads (10 male-female, 10 male-male, 10 female-female). All dyads were observed in public environments and as unobtrusively as possible. All dyads were observed for a minimum of several minutes without interruption from another individual.
All observations were estimated and recorded by the observer.
All behavior was observed in such a manner that the individuals did not know they were being watched. All observation was also done in public so as not to violate the individuals' privacy. The specific variables that were used as a measure of implied interest/attention in conversation, were frequencies of smiling, and eye contact throughout the course of the conversation. All variables were...