Behavioral Observation: People’S Behavior Depending On Their Location


The observation took place in Camden, focussing on the Market Town as well as two pubs (The Buck’s Head and the Oxford Arms). It was a covert piece of research, this means that consent of the participates is unnecessary, which prevented any demand characteristics from being exhibited. This observation will explore how people in Camden behave and if behaviour is dependant on location, this will be shown by comparing the behaviours we recorded from the two locations. It was chosen as our location because it is a diverse and well-known area in Central London, so there would be a wide variety of behaviours on display. We also chose Camden because of the awareness of crimes that occur there. One of the most common crimes to occur in Camden is anti-social behaviour (at 18.42%). According to Police UK 2018, this is a cause of harm to an individual, environment or their community. Examples of this can include; vandalism, street drinking, environmental damage, begging, fireworks misuse, inconsiderate neighbours as well as inappropriate use of vehicles (Police UK, 2018). Other statistics for crime in Camden include: possession theft (at 14.72%), theft from a person (at 13.71%), and violence and sexual offences (at 18.71%). Other crimes that are under 10% include vehicle crime, possession of weapons, drug offences, damage/ arson as well as public order (Police UK, 2018). We expected more people to be in the market because of the wide range of things on offer there compared to the pub. We chose to separate the locations between the market and the pub because the market is more vibrant and busy, whereas a pub is expected to be more relaxed in relation to the time of day where the observation took place.

Literature review:

Previous studies have shown a positive correlation in the way crowded areas with a high density of individuals can have a negative effect on people’s behaviour. This links to the idea of behaviour being dependant on the location because crowds are usually found in specific locations. This is shown in Freedman’s book, Crowding and Behaviour, (Anon, 2018). He found that as density increases, the intensity of our moods and behaviour increases, suggesting the way people act is more likely to be affected if they are surrounded by a large amount of individuals. A study carried out by Schmitt in 1966, (Anon, 2018) supports this; he found that as the density in Honolulu, Hawaii increased, so did the crime rate. Freedman, also suggested that we usually feel less crowded with friends than with strangers, therefore, in a busy environment which is considered a public area, a person is more likely to come across many unknown people, thus affecting their mood and behaviour. A second explanation for why crowded places affect behaviour is from noise which is caused by large crowds. A study carried out by Matthews and Canon in 1975 (Anon, 2018) found that people who were exposed to high levels of noise were less likely to help someone pick up dropped books. Also, people living in a noisy neighbourhood had fewer social interactions and were more aggressive. This suggests noise plays an important role in an individual’s reaction to a stressful situation, such as being in the same place with a large amount of people.


We divided the group into two smaller sub-groups, so we could conduct the observation in two places at once. 2/5 members of the group conducted their part of the observation in two different pubs (The Buck’s Head and the Oxford Arms). Choosing the pub as an observation was good because a pub is known to be a place where a wide range of behaviours can take place. Pubs are seen as “family friendly” locations, which is another reason why we chose this location, because it can be compared to the market, which shares these traits. 3/5 members conducted their part of the observation in three different locations in the market area. At each location, we conducted the observation for 15 minutes each. We chose the market as one of our locations is because we thought there would be a wide range of behaviours being exhibited, for example, people buying and selling goods, haggling over prices, tourists activity, people eating etc. We categorized our observation into five major parts; age, gender, ethnicity and who they were with (family, friends, kids etc). Their specific behaviours were recorded in our field notes (e.g. conflict, movement etc) and anything else that was deemed to be of interest. We made safety a priority by staying in groups and conducting the observation in public areas during the day.

For both pubs, the majority of the people in the pub were assumed to be aged between 19-50, 84% in the Buck’s Head and 74% in the Oxford Arms. The majority of the people in the Buck’s Head were male (58%) while the majority of Oxford Arms were female (63%). The starkest result that came from the observation of the ethnicities; the majority of the people were white, 79% in the Buck’s Head and 74% in the Oxford Arms. This is a higher percentage than average for Camden which lists it as 60% (Camden Demographics 2015). Interestingly, in both pubs few ethnic minorities were observed, there were no black ethnic minorities (BME) observed in either of the pubs. In the Buck’s Head, only 5% percent of the people observed were of an eastern Asian ethnicity and only 2% were of south Asian ethnicities. In the Oxford Arms, there were no ethnic minorities observed at all. This makes sense because the average percentage of BME in Camden is 7%, and 12% of the population are of an Asian ethnic group (Camden Demographics 2015).

In the Buck’s Head, many people were dressed in casual attire. The majority of the 19-50 year-olds were seen to be drinking some kind of alcoholic beverage. There was minor conflict in this pub; people were seen to be complaining to the pub staff about having wobbly tables. The conflict escalated when people in the pub became frustrated due to the slow service. Possible illegal activity was also witnessed as we observed that a young couple that we presumed to be under the legal drinking age, ordering alcoholic drinks and not being asked for any form of identification. The pub was also extremely noisy and quite crowded; this could have had an impact on behaviour. A man, who appeared to be severely inebriated, came into the pub to use the toilet, but he had to be forcibly removed by the staff as it is against the pubs policy to use the toilets without buying anything. In the Oxford Arms, the majority of the people were dressed in smart-casual attire. All of the 19-50 year-olds were seen to be drinking an alcoholic beverage of sorts. The pub smelt of paint and it seemed there was some kind of manual work going on outside. There were a few tourists in the pub, we could tell because they were using maps. Conflict occurred in this pub because people complained about the slow service and the kitchen being out of order. We observed a possible sexual harassment incident in which an older man kept staring and winking at a young girl and making lewd comments, which then caused her to feel uncomfortable and leave the pub.

In terms of the observation that took place in the market, overall in all three of the areas that we observed in, the majority of the people were aged between 19-50, 62% in the first area (the pizza restaurant), 65% in the second area (upper market hall) and finally 77% in the third area (outside the toilets, in a sheltered area). The majority in area 1 were male (54%) and for area 2 (52%) aswell, however the majority in area 3 were female (62%), this could be because area 3 was near a toilet and it’s assumed that women usually go to the bathroom together which could possibly explain why there was more women. In all three of the areas, the highest percentage of people were of a white ethnicity, 46% in area 1, 85% in area 2 and 80% in area 3. Again this could be because in the overall population of the Borough of Camden, people of a white ethnicity are a majority (60%) (Camden Demographics 2015). The Pizza Restaurant was where the first observation took place from 1:10 - 1:25 pm and it was raining. The majority of the people were wearing casual winter attire. We observed lots of tourists and lots of people speaking in different languages too. There were not many children around, except for young children belonging to tourist families, this could be because the children could have been at school. We also saw two community wardens walking around.

There were lots of people eating, as it was lunch-time. The majority of the people were aged between 19-50 also a lot of people had hats and hoods on so it was hard to see their faces. People were also walking slowly because they were looking at goods on the market stalls. The upper market hall was where the second observation took place from 1:45 - 2:00 pm and it was overcast and raining. The majority were wearing casual winter attire here too, they weren’t wearing hoods or hats due to it being indoors. There was a possible unlawful Coca-Cola sale, the can said “not to be sold separately” but it was sold separately. There was minor conflict where people were haggling over the goods being sold. It was difficult to keep track and count of people. There were not many children there. The third and final location for the observation took place outside some toilets under a sheltered area from 2:10 - 2:25 pm and it was raining. There were lots of people speaking german and lots of tourists here too and people used this as a smoking area.

When you compare the pub and the market, it is clear that behaviour can be dependant on the location. The pub had more conflict, this could be due to the fact that there is alcohol involved, but we predicted this in the introduction. The market also had a much larger number of people, this could be because more people move through the market so it seems like more people, also in the pub there was a specific seating area so the pub can only hold a certain amount of people whereas the market doesn’t have this.

Conclusion and Evaluation:

These results show that behaviour can be determined by the location, this is supported by the conflict that we observed in the pub, this conflict could have occured due to the fact that people were consuming alcohol. In terms of the market, the behaviours that were exhibited there were those typical of a market setting, e.g. haggling over goods. These results also support the prediction that there would be more people in the market rather than the pub, this could be as a result of the food available in the market as well as there being stalls and more space for visitors. The results also showed a change of behaviour on location due to rules of the location, for example not being able to smoke indoors which prevents certain actions and therefore changes behaviours. The results also support the idea of crowded areas having some sort of effect on the behaviour too and the noise levels as it was noisy and crowded in the pubs, and there was evidence of conflict and aggressive behaviour in these locations. The observation was effective in terms of measuring behaviour in different locations which was the aim of the study, this is demonstrated in the comparisons which showed that behaviour differed from the pubs to the market. It was expected that there would be more aggressive behaviour in the pub, perhaps due to alcohol consumption, than the market. Camden is a well-known area to tourists so it was busy, this meant that it was difficult to record everything we saw, which means that our results might not have truly reflected the behaviour. The observation took place during the day, which is a limitation because different behaviours could be exhibited at different times of the day, e.g. deviant behaviour might be more frequent at night. If we were to repeat the observation, part of it should be conducted later in the day, to better reflect the types of behaviour on display.

The Research Process:

The research process comprised of five stages, where the first stage consists of finding appropriate research question, the purpose of the research and hypotheses. The second stage is made of the literature review, where the previous study has to be found to base our own research question on and to compare the results. The third stage of the research process involved finding the suitable place to convey our research and sufficient design of the questions that we would have to answer whilst carrying out our observations. The fourth stage is made of results of the data analysis, whereas the last stage consists of discussion of results and conclusions. During the research process we had to point out the aims as well as the objectives, to know what we were looking for. Also, whilst being in the process of the research we had to ensure that the people weren't aware that they are being observed, because the whole point of this research was that, it will be conveyed without causing awareness of it to others. If we were to ask people for permission to observe them, not all actions would be natural, resulting in biased results and not everyone would agree.

Advantages and Disadvantages:

The advantages of this method is that, it is a quick way to observe and record a significant number of people in specific areas, as well as see the natural perspectives and actions of individuals, of how they behave in a chain of reactions, instead of what they say they do. People wouldn’t always be truthful if they were interviewed, covert observations prevent this. If we used a different method, we might not have seen any deviant behaviour because people would know that they are being watched. Another advantage of the observational research is that it is strong on validity and in-depth analysis, as all the observations are made in first person. Perceptions can be made, in actuality, circumstances, permitting the analyst access to the unique circumstances and significance encompassing what individuals say or do. There are various situations within the territory of criminology, where moving toward individuals for a survey or interview is probably not going to yield a positive reaction, however this isn’t the case for covert observations. Observational research is a method that usually police uses to watch out for any sort of deviant behaviour within the community.

Although, there are various critical issues related with observational research. An essential factor is the one that identifies with the job of the spectator and their impact on the general population and circumstances watched. There is likewise the extra issue of having the capacity to compose a record, as a researcher, when one is immersed in a circumstance or culture. This last circumstance can imply that the exploration is rejected as excessively abstract, as observations can be exceptionally tedious. In any case, it's progressively regular in a current research to diminish the perception time significantly. A vital potential disadvantage, in leading an observational research is the ethical issues inherent in watching genuine circumstance for research purposes. Moreover, another disadvantage is that it was difficult to keep track of people, as they moved throughout the location too quickly, resulting for us to have a hard time to judge the people’s age or ethnicity. Also, some of the people had hoods on, because it was raining making it difficult to actually make out a judgement on a person.

Ethical and Political Dilemmas of Research:

When researching crime and justice, one of the main ethical or political issue to consider is avoiding sensitive topics, especially while conducting research on groups of individuals who may be considered vulnerable or who are taking part in illegal activities. Due to how, as part of our observation, we were looking for any possible conflicts, it was important that we were wary of these and kept our safety the priority. One other ethical dilemma in research is obtaining informed consent from the research subjects. As our observation was covert, this meant that we did not inform the subjects of our observation that they were being observed, as we believed that this may have made caused them to act less ‘naturally’ due to the observer’s paradox, which suggests that ‘observers inherently disrupt the system that is being studied (Dale et al, 2013)’. This therefore would have impacted our results and made them less accurate. Another ethical dilemma which can arise in research is the issue of anonymity; as our observation was covert and did not speak to any of the research subjects and therefore did not ask for names, this is an issue we did not have to worry about. Confidentiality is another ethical issue of research and so it was also very important that we kept the data we collected private and used it solely for the purpose of research; we made sure to do this, to avoid our work becoming unethical. One other dilemma in our research was having to make assumptions when we were recording data such as the subjects’ age and gender. It was sometimes difficult to judge these aspects of the subjects accurately. As well as this, we also made some notes on individuals we assumed to be tourists as they were speaking in languages other than English; this may be an issue because it could be wrong to believe an individual is a tourist simply if they are talking in another language.

07 September 2020
Your Email

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and  Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.

close thanks-icon

Your essay sample has been sent.

Order now
Still can’t find what you need?

Order custom paper and save your time
for priority classes!

Order paper now