Behavioral Research Blog

Let children design their own playground

Posted by Jacqueline Martinali on Jan 28, 2016, 11:54 AM

Getting outside, playing, and exercising is essential for healthy child development. It goes without saying that playing outside must be encouraged in children, especially when we realize that an estimated 80 percent of young children don’t exercise enough. The impact of playing outside on the social, motor and emotional development of children and their learning ability is immense. Therefore, it is of interest to researchers to answer the question: what makes the best playground, according to children?

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Topics: The Observer XT, video observation, behavioral research, motor development, child, child development, playing behavior

Observational research: improving the shopping experience at airports

Posted by Natasja Bogers on Jan 4, 2016, 1:00 PM

We’ve all been there: arriving at an airport hours before your flight leaves, wandering around to pass time before you can board. Luckily, most airports offer stores where you can buy food, books, and tax-free items, but how often is it that you’re not truly interested in shopping and just keep strolling without actually buying? 

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Topics: The Observer XT, consumer behavior, retail, shopping behavior, market insights

What, Why and How to learn in a museum

Posted by Jacqueline Martinali on Dec 29, 2015, 2:00 PM

In the Netherlands we have a so called “museum card” which allows you to visit museums for free. In the last few years I visited quite a few of them together with my children. In Amsterdam we saw the ‘Nachtwacht’ in the Rijksmuseum, did science experiments at Nemo, and learned about how the sea has shaped our Dutch culture at The National Maritime Museum. We have also visited the ‘Openluchtmuseum’ (Netherlands Open Air Museum) in Arnhem several times, because this one is the closest to us. At this museum you can learn a lot about how people lived in the past, and the objects they used for cooking their meals, brewing beer, doing the laundry, and so on. Each and every time we visit this museum, my children and I discover new facts. It’s a great learning environment, but what do my children actually recall of these many museum visits?

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Topics: The Observer XT, parent-child interaction, video recording, developmental psychology, Wh-questions, coding behavior, transfer of information

Mealtime difficulties can lead to bad nutrition in nursing homes

Posted by Jacqueline Martinali on Dec 8, 2015, 1:21 PM

I can hear you thinking already: ‘Another blog about food… it seems all they think and talk about at Noldus IT is having dinner!”.

And yes, indeed, research about the interactions that take place during mealtime has attracted my attention again. Not only because dinner is a daily reoccurring event, but also because food is important to our health; you are what you eat. This time, the research I am highlighting currently was carried out in adults with dementia, focusing on caregiver person-centeredness, and behavioral symptoms during mealtime interactions.

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Topics: The Observer XT, video observation, coding schemes, dementia, caregiver-resident interaction, person-centeredness

Positive Behavior Support: Good behavior can be learned

Posted by Jacqueline Martinali on Nov 4, 2015, 10:14 AM

‘Mom, what's for dinner tonight?’ It’s a daily recurring question from my children. Having dinner is an important part of the day and also a way for parents or caregivers to influence a child's diet. With the observed increase in pediatric obesity in recent years, a child’s family, particularly his parents, may influence eating behavior, diet, and physical activity through their parenting and food choices. Some factors that affect eating behavior can be: what and how much food do parents serve their children? To what extent do they encourage their children to eat healthy food instead of unhealthy food? It’s important to raise awareness amongst parents of young children of the consequences of unhealthy eating habits, and teach them to create a healthy nutritional environment for their children.

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Topics: The Observer XT, parent-child interaction, Eating behavior, Observation, Positive Behavior Support

Information gap makes children guess

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Aug 3, 2015, 10:00 AM

When children lack information, they make up stories by adding up their own guesses. Their imagination can run wild: all elephants are pink, right? This kind of reasoning is undesirable when trying to explain a rare disorder of a sister or brother. Guesswork may result in incorrect illness explanations and might cause related miscommunication or behavioral problems. When we learn more about how siblings describe illnesses, we might be able to appropriately assist family counselors and parents.

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Topics: The Observer XT, video observation, parent-child interaction, developmental psychology, conversation analysis

Revealing the secret social role of the CA2 hippocampus

Posted by Abbe H. Macbeth, PhD on Jul 23, 2015, 12:43 PM

Aggressive behavior is typically adaptive for most species in the animal kingdom. Examples of this can be seen in maternal aggression to protect one’s young, and defense of a home territory; both of these contribute to the survival of an individual, and the species as a whole. But how is aggressive behavior mediated in the brain? Recent work indicates that the hippocampus in general, and the CA2 region in particular, is a crucial neural component in mediating social recognition and aggression. What CA2-specific mechanisms allow for such regulation?

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Topics: EthoVision XT, mice, Video tracking, The Observer XT, social behavior research, open field test, anxiety research, aggression, resident-intruder test, zero maze

Movement analysis in volleyball

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Jul 7, 2015, 4:33 PM

When analyzing movement in sports, there is more that matters than the way players handle their rackets or hockey sticks. Observation of the way players move and their response time, overall fitness, body strength, and, of course, the overall team performance all help create a more complete picture. Sports scientists look into effective interplay of team members and actions including on-the-ball behaviors. In team sports, complex tactics and routines can be revealed by detailed behavior analysis.

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Topics: The Observer XT, sport

Alcohol makes men smile

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Jul 1, 2015, 8:46 AM

“Smokers Wanted.”  That’s exactly the statement I read in the Pitt News, the daily student newspaper of the University of Pittsburgh. U Pitt’s Alcohol and Smoking Research Lab was looking for study participants, and at this specific laboratory, “Smokers Wanted” is not an unusual request. Some time ago the lab recruited around 700 (!) participants for a drinking behavior study.

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Topics: The Observer XT, video observation, Observation lab

Why not let calves choose? The dietary preferences of calves

Posted by Guest blogger on Jun 29, 2015, 3:05 PM

Today, we are proud to have another guest blogger! Laura Webb has done some interesting research at Wageningen University (The Netherlands) on the dietary preferences of calves and honored us with a blog post! Also, there is a free case study available at the end of this post!

Calves, whether raised for milk or meat production, are typically fed diets that differ from diets of feral cattle herds. For example, veal calves receive large quantities of milk replacer and solid feed with little structure to chew on, while dairy calves are weaned off milk early on and receive mostly solid feed. Diets typically fed to calves can cause a number of welfare problems, including poor stomach health as well as stress due to the inability to perform highly-motivated natural behaviours such as rumination or sucking on a teat. Furthermore, there is much research indicating that animals, and in particular ruminants, are able to select a balanced diet and maximise their comfort. So why not let calves choose?

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Topics: The Observer XT, video observation, Cows, Pocket Observer, feeding behavior,, stereotypies

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