Observational Methods

Observing Rules

Pick one of each to test a hypothesis. Different rules capture different information from the same behavioral sequence, as a result deciding on the correct observing rules depends on the research question.

  1. Sampling rules - Who to watch and when to watch.
  2. Recording rules - How the behavior is recorded.

Sampling Rules

  1. Ad libitum - This sampling method is used to record what you want, however this method is not very useful for quantitative data.
  2. Focal - In this sampling method only the behavior of one animal or group of animals is recorded.
  3. Scan - This method scans a group of animals and the behavior of each is noted.

Recording Rules

  1. Continuous - This recording method keeps track of  the frequencies, durations, budgets, sequences, and latencies of behavior. It is writing down the occurrence and duration of every behavior. However, this type of recording cannot be done with scan sampling.
  2. Interval - In this method of recording set an interval and write down the behavior occurring at that moment. This type of recording can only be used to calculate budgets.
  3. One-Zero - This type of recording gives an amount score for each behavior that is related to budget, duration, and frequency. In each interval behavior is scored as zero (0) if it is not observed or if it began before the interval and ends in the interval or as one (1) if it begins in the interval or began before the interval and continuous throughout the entire interval.
  4. Sequence - This type of recording method only describes transitions. Timing is ignored while writing down sequences. This is rarely used except to record social interactions in which case most often record behaviors in pairs, an action, and a reaction for each animal involved.

(Martin & Bateson, 2007)