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The Effects Of Group Size And Position On Vigilance In Young Adults.

3283 words - 13 pages

Vigilance behavior in animals has been attributed to various scientific explanations. One of the most widely accepted functions of vigilance is to increase the ability to detect predators. This skill is better known as anti-predator vigilance. Anti-predator vigilance is described simply as a state of being alert to predators. This is an imperative ability for almost any animal's survival. Animals, as well as humans, need to constantly be aware of the dangers surrounding them. In order to stay safe from predators or other threats, animals often find safety in groups and exhibit vigilance within these groups. This may include a herd of buffalo periodically raising their heads in search of wolves, or a woman walking down the street checking both ways for cars. In an attempt to describe the functions of vigilance we have chosen to study two seemingly important facets: Group size and position.One vital aspect of vigilance is group size. Bertram (1980) demonstrated this relationship in a study of vigilance and group size in ostriches (Struthio camelus). The purpose of the study was to investigate and predict the reasoning behind vigilance. Bertram operationally defines vigilance in ostriches as each time an individual raised or lowered its head. The independent variable of his study was group size and included three different levels. These levels were one, two, and three or more birds. The dependent variable was vigilance rate. This was not a true experiment due to lack of manipulation, rather, Bertram conducted a systematic observational study. Bertram counted the number of times each individual raised or lowered its head, as well as, the length of time the bird kept its head raised. Bertram discovered that less vigilance occurred amongst ostriches within the larger groups. It can be concluded from the data that an increase in group size gives individuals an increased sense of security and therefore a decrease in vigilant behavior. Another finding was that males had higher vigilance than females. The findings of this study lead to many possible implications. One such implication could be that position of the group members might have an effect on vigilance. Another possible implication is that the effects of group size might also be seen among other organisms, not just ostrichesTo further explore the possible effects of group size on vigilance in other organisms, Wirtz and Warwa (1986) studied vigilance and group size in humans (Homo sapiens). The purpose of this study was to describe the scanning behavior of humans relative to group size. The independent variable was group size, and the dependent variable was vigilance. Wirtz and Warwa operationally defined vigilance as looking up and visually scanning the environment. This study was a natural observation. In the study, observations were made at lunchtime in two dining halls of Freiburg University. Many individuals were observed in various group sizes. These sizes included groups of one, two, three,...

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