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Primate Observation Assignment

by | Apr 27, 2022 | Anthropology


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Primate Observation Assignment:
(Review the observational and scientific paper information sheets posted in the module on course term papers.)
For this assignment, we will use Scan Sampling. Based upon this technique, an animal’s observed behaviors are recorded at pre-selected moments in time (e.g., every 5- minutes). Instantaneous or scan sampling is best achieved with a sample interval time as short as possible, and with behaviors that are very easily identified. It is recommended that the observer create a list of possible behaviors, based upon research, prior to beginning their fieldwork. When the observer is well prepared, this is an excellent method for collecting a large amount of data on a group of animals.
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 between captive and wild populations.
Assignment: Primatology Observations
The goal of this assignment is to study humans the way a primatologist works in the field and to help you look at humans from a different perspective. Pretend that you are a primatologist from another planet. You have just arrived on earth, and have taken the physical form of a student. You are amazed by the lifeways and observable interactions between Americans, especially during the COVID- 19 pandemic. You quickly realize that most of your interactions with humans come from either watching TV, sitting in a coffeehouse or at a sporting event. You begin to ask yourself, what is human behavior really like?
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 louder than words.)
Try to imagine that you are a character from the tv series “3rd Rock from the Sun.” (Links to an external site.)
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Start off with the scientific classification (taxonomy) of the species you are observing.
Hypothesis: Start by establishing a research question that you can support (or not) based upon observational data collection. (Let’s assume that observations will be conducted on captive populations.)
Develop a hypothesis (research question) that relates to what you expect to observe. Next, you will test your research question by collecting data on samples of earthlings. For instance, do all humans play with their phone while waiting in line at Starbucks? You can conduct your study in person or by observing human behavior on tv or film. Be sure to note where the observation will take place and how this environment can impact your study results.
Research: Once you have chosen a question, design your field study to sample the human behavior in order to test your hypothesis. (You may be watching one individual (a child at play) or a group of people within one setting (outdoor restaurant.)
Make your observations at timed intervals, using the “scan sampling” method. Observations should take place at 5- minute intervals for a minimum of 1 hour. Please see attached resources for more information.
Conclusions: Summarize your data results and evaluate your hypothesis on the basis of the data you collected. 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 surprised you, or did your hypothesis match your results? Do your results “make sense” to you? Explain your reasoning.
Evaluate your study. If you had to investigate the same question again, would you do it the same way, or would you use a different scientific approach? Why?
Questions to address: Was it difficult to approach humans as “animals” to be observed? Why, why not? Do you think your results were biased in any way? Do you think a different primatologist would have reached the same conclusions if they had the same research data?
The completed paper must be typed and include:
· Introduction (1/2 page): state your hypothesis, why you think it is an interesting question, and describe the methods you used to collect data to evaluate your hypothesis (where you decided to collect data, why you chose the location and time for observations, etc.)
· Results (1/2 – 1 page): conclusions based upon your observations. Did your results support your hypothesis? What benefits/ difficulties did you experience utilizing the scan sampling technique.
· Discussion and Conclusions (1-2 pages): evaluate your hypothesis in light of your research findings and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your study design
· Appendix: your data collection sheets (paper sheets, handwritten, raw data based upon observations at 5- minute intervals)
Note: Design your study carefully. Try to report your results in a scientific manner. Most important, have fun.


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