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Naturalistic Observation Essay

My observation locations are Starbucks and restaurant. I chose them as my observation location because those are the places where people normally talk, study, socialize and interact in a casual manner.

Woman & Woman

The first pair I observed is woman and woman. It was in the Starbucks, two Korean women around 19 years old are standing on the line to buy coffee. Neither of them were talking on the cell phone and the one in the front (woman A) turned around to face the other one (woman B). Women A were arm crossed in a relax manner, woman B held her keys with her right hand and her wallet on the other hand. I guess woman A were talking about something really funny because they were both laughing after she said something. Between the moments where right after woman A finished her talking and before they started laughing, woman A always lightly and quickly touched woman B’s arm. They were standing very close to each other and after they bought the coffee, they sat at one table.

They faced to each other and both of them held their coffee and slightly leaned forward to each other while they were talking. They both looked confident and enjoyed about the discussion and did listen to each other with concentration and attention. No matter they were standing up or sitting down, their body posture were random, relax and totally open to each other. They looked at each other in a direct gaze almost all the time, I think the only time they did not looked at each other directly was when they were trying to recall something while they were talking. Although I didn’t know what they were talking, based on their nonverbal movements, I think self- disclosure exists in their discussion; for example, when woman B were talking something that she weren’t so happy about, she would first use her right hand to touch her breast and then reach out the hand.

Man & Man

I observed this pair in a Chinese restaurant. Actually there were three people, two men and one woman, they were about 20 years old and they were both Chinese. The first thing I observed as they walked in is the woman walked in the front and the two men walked side-by-side. Then after the waitress leaded them to their table, man A and man B automatically chose to sit together side by side; from this behavior, I guessed three of them were just friend, none of those two men were the woman’s boyfriend or something.

During the talking, two men never faced or directly gaze to each other; they just turned their head a little. Two men obviously put more attention on eating, they didn’t look interested in the discussion the woman brought up and were just busy eating their food. Moreover, I observed a very interesting thing; when the women ate the dishes in front of her a lot, but not fast; and when she wanted to take food from the dishes that were far away from her and in front of the guys, she would bring up some discussion, try to get their attention on her face; then she would get the food while still talking to the guys.

Woman & Man

The last pair I observed was back to Starbucks. There were three people sitting together with their computers on the table. One woman and two men, they were both Americans and around 25 years old. I guess they were doing a project together, because the woman kept talking to the man who sat next to her (man A) with her gaze changing from the computer to the man and then back to computer. Maybe it was the position and those big computers on the table, the woman barely talked to man B who sat across the table. When the woman was sending her ideas, man A always interrupted and repeated what he thought she was talking about; For example, he would say: “you mean…put this …right?” Sometimes man A acted like he wasn’t interested at her idea at all, he just bends his brows and says that he doesn’t agree with it. Then the woman would turn her head back to face computer and did not looked so happy about that, her facial expression appears less happy than before.

From my observation, I found out that the patterns I noticed such as women liked to share more personal information and they would like to talk to each other without a giant space between, and would like to talk face to face; Men don’t like sit with face-to-face position, they prefer side-by-side; In the business discussion, man make the major decision. From this observation experience, I observed lots of little details that we usually missed in our daily life. Because they are too little and seem too normal, we don’t usually think they are a big deal and just let them pass by. However, no matter they were facial, verbal or nonverbal; just those little details can tell us many things about what’s going on, what’s the mood between people and all kinds of stuff.


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