Naturalistic Observations and Evaluation

Naturalistic observations are the gathering of information in the field of interest without alteration or modification of the environment. The objective of naturalistic observation in psychology is to evaluate the character of an organism (human being included) in a natural setting.

The research under analysis was conducted in Starbucks with the purpose to observe people and their behavior in society while evaluating their actions. The research has been carried out in the social environment to get the necessary skills for anthropological research and to understand the basic rules of the research process. I visited the first Starbucks shop opened on the territory of the USA in 1912. Particularly, I was in Starbucks located at 1912 Pike Place, Seattle, WA 98101 on the 3rd of March this year. I spent two hours (from 12 pm till 2 pm) at the coffee shop, contemplating people. I intentionally selected this time to be able to see more visitors. Having entered this place, I turned right, bought a cup of cappuccino and stood there in the corner of the shop looking at people. I chose a very convenient place for observation since I could see through the window people entering the coffee shop, as well as gain sight of the shop inside. It helped me see the behavior of people before they entered the shop and after it, indicating the changes in their behavior.

The exterior of the Starbucks is rather standard, without any fashionable elements. Being a part of the Pike Place Market, the small coffee shop is a part of the building. Large windows almost reach the floor; the glass has the standard Starbucks logotypes. The sides are green. The glass door is located in the middle of the wall. Overall, the place, which has a rectangular shape, is very small.. There is a long counter at the right side and at the front of the place as well. It is possible to see the menu with the list of the available items and prices at the right wall behind the counters. The shelves above the menu have some boxes with the products that complement the interior. There are three paintings on the front wall. The sellers wear similar black turtlenecks and green aprons as a uniform. Even though the counter is united, the back door is situated deeper in the building. The left side of the room is fully covered with shelves with different Starbucks products available for purchase. There are many boxes on the shelves under the ceiling. The pipes on the ceiling are the part of the interior as there is no any construction hiding them. The light fixtures are hanging from the ceiling on the long wire. The whole interior is painted in yellow and light brown colors that make people understand they are inside the coffee house. There are no any chairs or tables for sitting. It is possible to take a cup of coffee and stand behind. Such decision was dictated by a small place and the inability to install any chairs for customers’ convenience. However, the coffee shop has located several bars for people to stand there and have their coffee. Standing in the corner and using one of such bars for placing my coffee, I was watching people in the shop.

Being in Starbucks for two hours, I saw about 170-200 people of different age, ethnicity, gender, and social position. The youngest person in the shop was a boy about 3 years old who came there with his parents and older brother about 15. Overall, there were not many children in the coffee shop. However, I managed to see four children aged 3-5, two children aged between 6 and 10, a boy and a girl about 13, and a boy about 15. There were many young people aged 16-20. The most numerous age group could be related to adults aged from 25 till 35, which comprised about 100-110 personalities based on my notes. Young adults aged between 21 and24 belonged to the second group of frequent visitors. However, there were several people aged above 65 (four women, a man and a woman, and a group of three women).
I noticed that the youth came in groups of 3-5 people, while elder people were either single or in couples (there was only one group of elder women, consisting of three persons). During the whole observation, there were six families of three people (a wife, a husband, and a child), two families with two children and one family with three children. There were more women in the shop than men despite their age. If to consider the population in the context of age and gender, it is possible to notice that there were more older women than men, while among customers aged 18-25 men prevailed. The number of women under 25, but less than 65 was higher compared to men.

Speaking about the ethnicity, it was possible to see more Europeans. Asians were in the second place, and the less numerous ethnic group comprised of African-Americans. It was difficult to follow the age and gender of people among different ethnicities as there was no predomination. Observing people, I tried to guess their social position and income. Using the clothing and the presence of jewelry as the starting points for understanding the income of people, I managed to see that visitors of different income and social position came to Starbucks. The social position could be understood from the way people spoke. Paying attention to the fact that not only Americans came to the coffee shop, I could identify the social position of Americans only. Thus, about 2/3 of Americans used standard spoken English without jargons. However, about 1/3 of Americans either used jargons in their language, which can be met in lower social layers of the population, or disclosed themselves in their behavior, being ferine and rude.

Having touched the issue of nationality, Americans were predominant. Paying attention to the language people used and their appearance, I can say that there also were Japanese, Germans, the British, the French, and Russians. The style of behavior of people from various nationalities differed. The visitors of different age and nationality showed dissimilar behavior patterns. I noticed that French and Japanese always greeted the sellers before making an order, while people of other nationalities could start making orders without saying ‘hello’. Japanese people were more reserved while French ones were open to everything. I noticed that Russian people felt some pressure or were confused about something when they entered. In general, most people entered the shop, bought some products, and left. There were those who could not choose what to buy. Hence, they stood for some time studying the menu and the shelves with the products. A minority of people bought coffee and stood in the coffee shot drinking. Since there was not much space, people did not linger with their drinks and left in 15-20 minutes maximum.

There was nothing extraordinary in people’s clothing. Most people wore coats, jackets, and scarf due to chilly weather. Many people were with umbrellas because there were some signs of rain in the morning. Speaking about the style of clothing, nothing extraordinary could be defined. The male and female coats were of classical style, in which dark colors like brown and black predominated. Several women wore short white jackets with bright scarves. Youth wore casual clothing with some bright elements. Moreover, there was no specific difference between the wearing of people of different nationalities, age, and gender.

Trying to understand the occupation of the customers, I faced a number of problems. It was easy to identify the occupation of those who brought some devices or subjects, which could help recognize a particular profession. Thus, there was an accountant close to me as he was using a computer and was constantly talking over the phone about some budgeting rates. I noticed a group of students who were discussing their history teacher and some funny situations that happened at the lecture. I also noticed one IT administrator. As for me, such personalities represent a specific type of people, with a detached view and the impression of constant thinking.

Staff constantly interacted between themselves, asking about some help in finding some items, and sharing the products, etc. After appearing inside Starbucks, the interaction between the customers mainly did not differ from their conversation in the street., People continued communicating after they made an order. It is significant that Japanese tourists could be easily identified in a crowd as they made photos both before entering the coffee shop, after making an order, with the order, etc. Such behavior was strange for me, but as I could see, it was an ordinary behavior for tourists and no one paid much attention to them. The staff was friendly in relation to their customers. Considering the specifics of the used language, it is important to say that the staff was polite and used standard English without referring to a jargon. Customers also tried to change their style of communication when they referred to the sellers. It was interesting to see how people using jargons while talking to their friends changed their tone and words when they turned to the staff. The sellers tried to offer as many items from the menu as possible; however, they did not sound intrusive. Talking to people of another nationality or to those who had problems with speaking and understanding, they were patient trying to use gestures in communication.

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Due to this observation, as well as evaluation of the material and analysis of the situation, I have noticed that the environment in Starbucks was very similar to McDonald’s restaurants, where most people came, ordered some meals, ate them and left. Such type of places is not presupposed for carrying on long conversations, discussing some serious business, etc. In most cases, people come to have some coffee, drink it in the shop, and do not stay long. I observed the same situation and did not notice any business meetings there. The treatment of customers was very similar to the one people receive in McDonald’s: there was the same big number of sellers (between 4 and6 waiters), the same greeting smiles and favorable treatment of the customers. I also noticed that the number of people served and the time they spent inside the room were almost similar. The difference between Starbucks and McDonald’s can be noticed between the demographics of people. The main visitors of McDonald’s are friends or colleagues. I did not see many families in McDonald’s when I was there for the last time.

Having conducted the research, I was content with the outcomes. I noticed many aspects, which I did not see before in an ordinary place. It was a great experience for me owing to which I pay attention to details in any place I visit. The most difficult aspect in this research was to make notes as I saw a variety of things and observed many interesting points I wanted to note, but my writing skills were too slow. Therefore, I noticed more than I could note, and when I looked through my notes, I tried to recollect my observation and to add something important. The most interesting part of the research was trying to guess the occupation and the relations between people. For instance, sometimes, a woman, a man, and a child with them appeared to be cousins. It could be seen after attentive observation of their movements, gestures, and words they used.

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