Why use observational methods?
- Questionnaires of limited applicability.
only one animal species with language, out of millions of animal species.
- Apparatus limits generalisability.
eg. if behavioural measuring equipment is noticeable, then results only apply to organisms that are habituated to that apparatus.
- Context-dependent behaviour where context might be difficult or infeasible to replicate in controlled environments. eg. behaviour of riotous mobs.
Steps in Observational Research: Our Path
- Observe informally: get to know your subject pool firsthand
- Ask questions
- Choose measures
- Choose recording method: when and how do you sample behaviour?
- Design experiment
- Run experiment
- Ask more questions
1. Define the measures with either:
- Operational definitions: specify the physical requirements for coding a behaviour (e.g. lever press by a rat)
- Ostensive definitions: provide examples through pictures or diagrams, along with written descriptions of the behaviour interest (e.g. coordinated play vs solitary play)
2. Classify your measures as either:
- Events (occurences, usually, but not necessarily of short duration - approximated in points in time)
- States (relatively long-duration events - such as sleep or play)
In past, ethogram was a list of the full behavioural repertoire of a species.
In recent years, ethogram used to refer to both complete behavioural repertoires and the coding schemes used in specialised studies of a subset of a species' or group's behaviour (i.e. term synonymous with coding scheme).
Sometimes used to denote a quantitative…