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Abigail Wierenga

Professor Walcott
IDIS 205-B
October, 19, 2012
For my social science research exploration I went to Woodland mall and
observed people. I decided to observe how many bags people were carrying. I decided
to first split the groups up by age. Then in the different age groups I split the people up
by gender. I wanted to see what age group was most likely to have the most bags, and
what gender was most likely to have the most bags.
This experiment was carried out at Woodland Mall in the Starbucks. I sat at a
table near the Starbucks and started observing. First I made three groups, Teen/Young
Adult, Middle Age, and Elderly. I sorted the people who walked past me by what their
age appeared to be. I define Teen/Young Adult to be people anywhere from 13-35,
Middle Age to be anywhere from 36-55, and Elderly anywhere from 56 up. As I sorted
the people into their groups I marked down what their gender was and how many bags
they were holding. I made sure that my sample of people was random by only counting
the people who walked by me on my left. By doing this I made sure that I wasnt picking
and choosing people who would make my sample more diversified. I sat at Starbucks
for an hour and thirty five minutes. During that time I observed 110 people. I tried to
make sure that I didnt get the same person but it was hard to keep track.
First, I will talk about my observation of the Teen/Young Adults. Out of all of the
people that I observed, 50 of them were Teen/Young Adults. 23 were men, 27 were
women. Obviously there were a greater number of women than men. The number of


men carrying one shopping bag were nineteen , and the number of women were twenty
one. The number of men carrying two shopping bags were four, and women three. The
women carrying two bags numbered two and there was one woman who was carrying
four bags.
I observed thirty three Middle Aged people. Of those people nine were men and
twenty four were women. Again, the number of men was much less than the number of
women. Twenty women were carrying one bag and nine men were carrying one bag.
Two women were carrying two bags and two women were carrying three bags.
There were twenty seven Elderly people that I observed. Out of the twenty
seven, five were men leaving twenty two to be women. All five men were holding one
bag and fourteen women were holding one bag. The three remaining women were
holding two bags each.
When I was observing I found a couple things difficult. While observing I
observed a lot of couples and it was difficult to tell which person the bag belonged to. It
could have been the girlfriends and the boyfriend was holding it or conversely it could
have been the boyfriends and the girlfriend was holding it. An example of this was a
young man walking around by himself carrying a Victorias Secret bag. That bag could
have been his girlfriends and he was carrying it walking to meet her, or he could have
bought it for his girlfriend and was carrying it around. Different variables like this made
it difficult to tell if the sample that I was getting was accurate or not. It was also difficult
to tell if the people had different bags stuffed inside of the bags they were carrying.
They could have consolidated and I wouldnt have know, throwing off my results. I
could have also gotten results that were not accurate because I was at the mall on a


Monday. Also, the time that I was there could have made my results not accurate.
Most people dont come to the mall between 2:00 and 3:35 in the afternoon. Although
my data could not be accurate to the true average of age and gender, this was the
closest sample that I could get.
From this study I learned many different things. I learned that the average age of
people to go to the mall is Teen/Young Adult. After that come Middle Age and Elderly. I
also learned that women are more likely to go to the mall. Also, women are more likely
to buy something when they go shopping. Men are less likely to buy something. Even
if men do buy something they usually only buy something from one store, whereas
women are more likely to buy more things from more stores. One thing that I observed
was that as the time passed the amount of older and younger people increased and the
number of middle aged people decreased. I also learned that there are a fair amount of
people who dont buy anything. I only took
note of the people who walked by me with bags. There were at least as many people
who walked by and didnt have bags as the ones who did.
From these things that I observed I can infer that more women go shopping than
men. I can also infer that younger and middle aged people are more likely to go
shopping than elderly people are. As I said earlier, this isnt a proven fact, but for my
sample of people it is.
In this class we talked a lot about gender representation. We talked about how
difficult it is to break the barriers of gender. We watched a movie called Tough Guise
which discussed masculinity in society. I found this movie really interesting. I am very
interested in the different societal structures between boys and girls, so I found this


lesson to be very interesting. We talked about how if men doing anything that seems to
be girly or doing something that is not considered manly they are looked down upon
and are mocked by their peers. Although this isnt fair, that is the way society works.
We also watched a short clip about how Disney gave unrealistic expectations to girls
about their looks and how they should act. Girls at a very young age learn from Disney
and from other sources that they are supposed to be skinny, look pretty, and act silly
around boys. Again, this isnt fair, but it is how society works. Girls and boys learn how
they should act and what is acceptable for their gender at a young age. All boys think
that they have to be tough and emotionless while all girls think that they must be pretty
and mindless.
Children are being taught gender norms or ways that they should act based on
their gender. From their gender norms they are told how they should act, dress,
behave, and how they should interact socially. I wanted to test this, but not with just
children, with adults of different ages. That is why I did my social experiment. I wanted
to see what the gender socialization was like in the mall. While I was there I thought it
would be interesting also to see how many bags people were holding. So I recorded
that and split the people up into groups according to age. It was interesting to see all of
the differences within the categories and between the categories. After I collected my
data I made graphs to show the differences in a convenient way.


This first graph is of all the people that I surveyed the percentages of ages. 45% were
Teen/Young Adult, 30% were Middle Aged, and 25% were Elderly.
This graph is the percentage of males and females in the Teen/Young Adult group.
45%
30%
25%
Percentage of People Observed
Teen/ Young Adult Middle Age Elderly
54%
46%
Percentage of Young Adults
Teen/Young Adult Women Teen/ Young Adult Men


This graph shows the percentage of Men and Women in the Middle Age category.
This graph is the percentage of Men and Women in the Elderly category.
This next graph compares the ages and the number of men and women of the people I
observed.
73%
27%
Middle Age Women Middle Age Men
81%
19%
Elderly Women Elderly Men
0
7.5
15
22.5
30
Young Adults
Middle Age
Elderly
Men and Women
Girls Boys


This graph is of the young adults and is comparing the number of bags that the men
and women are holding.
This graph is of the Middle Aged people and is comparing the number of bags that the
men and women are holding.

This graph is of the Elderly and is comparing the number of bags that the men and
women are holding.
All of these graphs showed the difference between the genders and ages. I
0
7.5
15
22.5
Women
Men
Young Adults
1 Bag 2 Bags 3 Bags 4 Bags
0
5
10
15
20
Women
Men
Middle Aged
1 Bag 2 Bags 3 Bags
0
3.5
7
10.5
14
Women
Men
Elderly
1 Bag 2 Bags


thought this was very helpful in displaying my data. There are some significant and not
so significant differences between the different ages and genders. I enjoyed this
experiment because it gave me a different view of what the differences between
genders are.