Behavioral Research Blog

Observe police interrogations – research on adolescence

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Feb 12, 2014

Interrogation research crosses multiple disciplines. For example, researchers will look into demographics but also investigate the techniques of interrogation. Recently, Hayley Cleary and Sarah Vidal investigated interrogations in order to describe interrogation settings and its participants in a basic way. They explain that such information about the participants and the setting is still missing and that they are particularly interested in how adolescents act in interrogation settings.

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Topics: The Observer XT, on-site research, video observation, coding schemes, adolescent behavior

Why social pigs do better

Posted by G. Smit on Jan 28, 2014

And how to study their behavior in great detail

If you want to get on in life, is it better to make friends, or should you trample down the competition? Maybe we can learn something from animals… Take hens for example, we probably all know what a ‘pecking order’ is. As a hen, if you don’t peck back, you will definitely loose out. On the other hand, if you are a pig, being social will get you somewhere. In fact, studies show that social pigs are healthier and grow better, and having social pen mates also has these positive effects.

Reimert et al. wanted to look at the behavior of social pigs more closely. In their recent study (published Applied Animal Behaviour Science), they used both video tracking and scoring of behavior to assess behavior in a combined novel location and novel object test.

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Topics: EthoVision XT, The Observer XT, animal behavior research, social behavior research, video observation, coding schemes, animal welfare, tracking, anxiety research, pigs, ethogram, Pocket Observer

Doctor-patient communication training program evaluated

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Jan 22, 2014

Colleagues from many different universities study communication in healthcare to empower themselves in this process. Every day, new training programs find their way to hospitals and clinics in order to help professionals. From medical encounters between patient and radiation oncologists to nurse-patient interaction between direct-care staff and Korean Americans in nursing or senior living homes, all of these professionals need to be able to convey their message efficiently and effectively in order to practice their profession.

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Topics: The Observer XT, doctor patient interaction, medical encounter, coding schemes

Classroom observations - behavior of children with and without ADHD

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Aug 15, 2013

The relationship between reaction time variability and observed attention in children with and without ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has become a fairly common subject of research in today’s society. The disorder affects working memory, attention span, and inhibitory control. There are two types, Combined and Predominantly Inattentive. In this study, 146 participants between the ages of 7 and 11 were split into three groups: ADHD-Combined (ADHD-C), ADHD-Predominantly Inattentive (ADHD-I), and a control. Tanya Antonini and colleagues looked for an association between reaction time (RT) variability and observed behavioral indicators of attention.

Building on results
Antonini et al.’s study (2013) built on the results that were presented in Epstein et al.’s study (2011). This study examined differences in RT variability between children with and without ADHD across five computerized tasks. The results of this study showed that the RTs of children with ADHD were more variable than those of the control group, and were also less accurate than the control on the majority of the tasks. This study did not have an analog math task.

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Topics: The Observer XT, classroom observation software, coding schemes, neuropsychology

Behavioral observations in autism research – mothers of high-risk children use more gestures

Posted by Olga Krips on Aug 6, 2013

Autism, language and gestures
Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often have delayed development in communication and language. This impaired development can be present even in the first year of their lives. The use of gestures, like pointing and nodding, is very important in communication. Impairments in the use of those gestures goes hand-in-hand with impairments in language development. This is seen in young children with ASD. But such deficits are also more common in infants and toddlers that have a higher risk on autism (HRA), because they have an older brother or sister that was diagnosed with ASD.

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Topics: The Observer XT, video observation, infant behavior, coding schemes, autism research, parent-child interaction, parent-infant dyads

Observing communication skills in newly wed couples

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Jun 19, 2013

Communication is the key to all relationships. Communicating effectively can determine the success or the failure of a relationship. Whether it be a couple that has been married for years or newlyweds, communication is extremely important in a marriage. There are some topics that are fairly easy to discuss, and others which are difficult. A husband and a wife may have different views on what topics are most important to discuss, just as a husband and a wife may feel that each has different subjects that they struggle to communicate about well.  

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Topics: The Observer XT, coding schemes

Robot-child interactions – helping children with autism learn skills

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on May 24, 2013

Human-Computer Interaction research may go a lot further than just evaluating an office worker interacting with a stationary computer or laptop. For example, researchers worldwide develop and evaluate robots in order to learn more about human-robot interaction, robot-robot interaction, and the roles robots can play in numerous processes taking place in our daily lives. Many years ago it all seemed too futuristic: who doesn’t know R2-D2 or C-3PO from the Star Wars movies? Now we know that the future has started.


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Topics: The Observer XT, coding schemes, autism research, robotics

Observing monkey behavior – cracking the nut

Posted by G. Smit on Apr 16, 2013

We already know some monkeys display above average intelligence. One way by which we can tell is their use of tools. Behavioral studies have shown that capuchin monkeys use boulders and logs as anvils upon which they can crush nuts. Furthermore, these monkeys have demonstrated that they are able to identify hammer stones best for cracking, and nuts that are easy to crack.

Photo courtesy of Barth Wright.

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Topics: The Observer XT, video observation, coding schemes, ethogram, monkey, stationary research

Parent-child interaction in autism: play behavior

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Mar 26, 2013

According to a recent study conducted by Freeman and Kasari of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, the importance of play and engagement in young children with autism is rooted in parental strategies. Due to the fact that parent-child interactions involving episodes of sustained play and engagement is critical in the development of autistic children, it is important to provide these parents with the necessary tools to properly stimulate engagement. 

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Topics: The Observer XT, coding schemes, autism research, parent-child interaction, Observation lab

How to observe adolescents in a classroom

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Jan 23, 2013

In puberty, both boys and girls have to make choices about what to do, what to wear, how to act, who to date, etcetera, etcetera. The really important stuff, you know. In those years (12-18) things are changing, nobody can deny that. A big thing in adolescence is school. In many countries around the world, adolescents go to school at least until they are 16 years of age. Therefore, many researchers focus on classroom interaction. A lot goes on in and around the school and many decisions are made in groups. Group pressure is something that is all around us, but during puberty teenagers find it difficult to ignore the influence of their peers when making decisions. To study these group interactions in schools, researchers place cameras in classrooms to record interactions on video. They code behaviors on handheld devices, interview teachers, and conduct student surveys. Observing a general school population allows psychologists to gain insight into specific group dynamics and the effectiveness of age-based intervention programs.   

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Topics: The Observer XT, on-site research, video observation, Educational research, classroom observation software, coding schemes

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