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Observation Activity – Social Interactions

Observation Activity – Social Interactions

Observation Activity 1

The first observation activity took place in a park. I chose this location because there are all kinds of individuals in parks, from people walking their pets, parents with their children playing nearby, and people taking walks. I sat on a bench and looked around, and after a few minutes, two people, a man, and a woman, came and sat across my bench on the other side of the road. I decided to use them for my assignment. Looking at them closely, I could tell that they were getting to know each other. However, I also overheard them saying how good it was to run into each other at a party after so many years. After a while of talking, I learned that they were in the same high school and were in the same circle of friends back then, but after graduation, they both never saw each other again.

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I could tell that they were not just friends and that they liked each other. For one, there was a lot of flirting between the two. For example, they would have prolonged eye contact and were both stealing glances while the other was not looking. In addition, there was the accidental arm graze from the guy to see if the lady liked him if she leaned into the touch or leaned away. Amazingly, the lady did respond positively to the guy. Listening to them talk, they started off by reminiscing their years in high school, a crazy party that they went to, a teacher they thought was hilarious, their cringe moments, and other things that were core memories from that time. They also started telling each other about their college years and what they had been doing since graduating college.

Listening to them talk and remember things about each other, I could tell that they must have liked each other back in high school but never got the chance. This is still the case even now, telling from an observation of their verbal cues and nonverbal cues; for instance, there were a lot of compliments between them and the body language such as high pitch for the lady, low pitch for the man, and the flirtatious touches.

Observation Activity 2

My second observation activity was in a coffee shop where one woman and two guys sat next to my table. They all seemed to be very close friends based on their interactions with each other. There were inside jokes and banter among each other, making their table a little noisy. Further, their conversations shifted back and forth between serious topics like their work or something one of them was concerned about, as well as fun topics like a funny video or something else fun one of them did. For the duration of time I was there, one interaction that I observed most was when one of the men, James, randomly mentioned that someone named Jessica had texted him. The reaction from the other two was similar, with the woman groaning in frustration and softy yelling “No” dramatically and the other guy saying, “Not this again,” and even throwing his hands up while shaking his head in disapproval.

James then reassured them that he did not text back and they had nothing to worry about, finishing off with I moved on. However, his friends did not believe him at all, and they began talking one after the other again, saying, “That is what you said the last three times”, “Why do you always do this to yourself?”, “You said you blocked her number after last time”, among other things. Based on this conversation, I learned that James had a toxic on-and-off relationship with a woman named Jessica, and his friends did not like her at all. Based on their verbal and non-verbal reactions, James’ friends seemed to have had enough drama that he would get himself in whenever he started seeing Jessica. They were also concerned because it appeared James would always get hurt, and it seemed he was about to do it again. They seemed genuinely concerned for each other, meaning that their relationship with each other was close and sincere, almost like a real family.

Observation Activity 3

The third observation activity was on a reality TV show I watched. The show was about Korean celebrities who opened a restaurant in Mexico and tried to operate it for a week. In addition, apart from the daily activities of the celebrities, the reality TV program also shows the interactions of the customers who visit the restaurant. As such, I observed one interaction between two customers who came into the restaurant: a mother and her son-in-law.

Looking at them, it seemed like they did not know each other well, and visiting a new restaurant to try new things was their way of trying to fix that. The woman seemed confident, sure of herself, calm, and relaxed, while the son-in-law was somehow tense and fidgety, like he was out of place. It was clear that he was intimidated by her. One would mostly expect this when a man is newly dating the daughter and meets her mother, but this is not the case when he has already married the woman’s daughter. Nevertheless, this was the situation throughout their scenes. The woman was always the first to initiate a conversation, while the guy barely said anything, as if he was afraid of saying the wrong things. Their conversation was only small talk about the restaurant and the food there. Notably, his replies were very short, making it even more awkward for both of them. Further, the man tried to impress his mother-in-law by trying to eat spicy Korean noodles, which did not go as well as he had hoped. He began sweating profusely and could barely finish his food but pushed himself to eat all of it despite his pain.

Based on my observation, I could tell that their relationship was new, and they were only now trying to find a way to bond. The woman seemed calm and open to getting to know her son-in-law. She tried initiating conversations multiple times. She also leaned towards him and not away, which said that she liked him and was trying to make him comfortable. The son-in-law was nervous, and based on his actions and mannerisms, he had high regard for the woman and wanted her to see him in a good light. However, his nervousness was clearly visible, and it also prevented him from interacting well.

Observation Activity 4

The fourth observation activity involved two of my friends, Jenny and Marcus. Both of them happen to book smart and never seem to agree on anything. They are always arguing about something, no matter how trivial it might be, all in an effort to outsmart each other. In the particular interaction I observed, they were arguing about religion, with Jenny being a Pagan and Marcus a Christian. They all had their usual back-and-forth debates, trying to prove to each other that they were right and the other one was wrong.

Their discussions are always civil, hence a controlled voice pitch, though once in a while, it can get heated, leading to raised voice tones. These discussions are always like in a debate team. They are both incredibly smart and most of their arguments, like this one on religion, usually end with a “Let’s agree to disagree”. They both practice active listening to each other so that they can find weaknesses in the other person’s argument. As such, their body language includes eye contact, facing toward each other, and a lot of hand movements while explaining their points. Based on the interactions, one can tell that they know each other very well because they will constantly bring up personal things like the values and beliefs of each other in their arguments to try and win the argument.

Observation Activity 5

My final observation activity involves a couple I came across while walking. The couple was arguing while walking behind me. They did not seem to mind that I was right in front of them, and they even overtook me as they continued to argue and walked in front of me for a while. The argument was about some supplies they were supposed to buy, but the husband had forgotten to buy them. The husband, however, was arguing that he bought everything the wife had told him to buy, and she was the one who forgot to list the supplies. I could hear the wife telling him that she told him, but he always never listens to her. The husband replied by repeating that she was the one who forgot to tell him because he had written down everything she had said but later threw the list away after shopping. They continued with this whole argument until they were out of my earshot. Based on what I observed during this brief argument was that even though they were arguing, they still walked close to each other, and the husband would pull her towards him when they came towards a wall or someone passing by. In addition, there was no yelling, just a controlled back-and-forth interaction, even though it was filled with frustration. Further, even though they were blaming each other, they both decided to get the supplies together because they could not determine whose fault it was. To me, this was an indication of a healthy relationship.


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Find a good spot to observe people. You can choose a coffee shop, a restaurant, a park … it’s up to you. Focus on a couple, two friends, or a small group (no more than 3 people). Hint: This exercise works best (and is less complicated for you) when you’re focusing on two people. Here are your questions:

Observation Activity - Social Interactions

Observation Activity – Social Interactions

1. What dynamics do you see between the people you’re observing? Set up the scene by telling me where the observation took place and what the relationship is between the people you are observing. parent/child, siblings, friends, a married couple, etc.
2. What transpires in the interaction? This is more of a nonverbal account of what is going on in the observation.
3. What do you hear? This is strictly what is being said in the conversation.
4. What can you tell about the relationship from what is said? And, what can you tell about the relationship by what IS NOT said? And lest you think this is eavesdropping, you’re functioning as a social science researcher!

You are to conduct this observation on five different occasions. You can write about all five observations in the same document; just remember you are observing five different situations.
Please Note: When you write about your observations, be sure that you identify them in some way – i.e., Observation No. 1, Observation No. 2 – so that I’ll know about which event you’re discussing. Use a critical eye and think about what’s going on as you dissect what you see/hear. Use at least one page to describe each observation.

If you are uncomfortable with doing the assignment the way it is intended, the alternative is to watch a TV series or movie and do the observations off of them.

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