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Running Head: Measurements of Two Behavioral Observations: Hand Gestures

Measurements of Two Behavioral Observations: Hand Gestures

David J. Szumlanski
University of Kansas, Spring A 2016
Professor: Eric Common

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Measurements of Two Behavioral Observations: Hand Gestures

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This paper serves as an opportunity to practice and improve techniques utilized
while collecting, measuring, and reporting data related to observable human behavior.
Interval recording and duration recording methods were the focus of this exercise. Data
was collected with interobserver agreement in mind, which produced notable results.
By defining, explaining, and selecting the data measurement methods and target
behavior to and with a person unfamiliar with each, students have an opportunity to
grow as they work to share this information in concrete, academic terms in a
conversational style. This increased the student’s understanding, appreciation, and
fluency in both the data collection process and the discussion of it. Two behavioral
observations are reported in this paper; each is broken down into the following
unlabeled sections: design and recording methods, results, and reliability.
Observers first watched behaviors of individuals present in order to determine
those that may be interesting to measure. The first measurement system to be utilized
was Duration Recording. The target behavior selected was defined as raising any part
of either hand above shoulder level while speaking. Examples include the observed
person touching his or her ear, waving hands in front of face, putting one finger in front
of lips, and scratching head. Non-examples include gesturing below the shoulders,
clapping hands below shoulder level, tapping on table with both hands, one hand
resting on lap while the other scratches the elbow, and sipping a drink while not actively
speaking. Observers were most interested in the total time spent engaging in this
behavior for the length of each observation period, and the behavior occurred quite
frequently at times, which would have made average duration recording impractical.
Thus, the cumulative duration recording method was selected. Data was collected over

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three five-minute observation sessions, totaling fifteen minutes in duration. Observers
set a shared countdown timer for five minutes, and each used a separate stopwatch to
record the behavior independently. Data was recorded onto template created by the Iris
Center at Vanderbilt University (The IRIS Center for Training Enhancements, 2005).
Figure 1.1

Percentage of Observation Engaged In Target Behavior No.1

Starbucks Patron#1's Cumulative Duration
40.00%
35.00%
30.00%
25.00%
20.00%
15.00%
10.00%
5.00%
0.00%
Session 1

Session 2

Session 3

The individual engaged in the target behavior for 13.6% of the first session,
37.7% of the second session, and 7.8% of the third session (see figure 1.1). Average
cumulative duration for the three observation sessions was calculated at 19.7%, though
the second session could potentially be anomalously long. Thus, these finding should
not be taken as indication that the individual is likely to maintain such a high average
during future observations.
Reliability was ensured through interobserver agreement. The data collected
was analyzed with the Reed and Azulay IOA system for calculating Total Duration
(Reed, D.D., & Azulay, R.L., 2011), resulting in 97.64% for combined data points,

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ranging from 87.27% to 97.34%. This indicates that the IOA for the total of three
sessions is greater than that of any individual session. When calculated with mean
duration per occurrence, the resulting IOA was 93.06%
The second measurement system to be utilized was Interval Recording. The
target behavior selected was defined as any time the observed person touched his or
her face with any part of either hand for any length of time. Examples include resting
face on hand, touching ear, touching lips with one finger, and scratching nose. Nonexamples include coiling hair around fingers, touching face with writing utensil, resting
hands upon table, and taking a sip of a drink through a straw. The behavior occurred
relatively infrequently, leading observers to select partial interval recording as an
appropriate measuring tool. Data was collected over three sessions, each consisting of
six thirty-second intervals, totaling three minutes per session for a combined nineminute period of observation.
The individual engaged in the behavior during one of the observation intervals
during the first session, another one during the second session, and one time the third
session (see Figure 1.2). Markings of 100% indicate that the target behavior was
observed at any point during that interval, and markings of 0% indicate that it was not
observed at any point during the interval. Analysis of each the session’s 6 intervals
indicates that the behavior was present during 16.66% of intervals recorded during each
of the three sessions (also represented on Figure 1.2). Thus, the average for the three
sessions combined also yields observations of target behavior at 16.66%. While these
findings seem consistent and uniform, these should not be taken as indication that the
individual is likely to maintain this rate of behavior for future trials, though he or she may

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come close. The intervals chosen were thirty second intervals that, when translated into
times of occurrence per minute, yielded one instance of target behavior per three
minutes, or .33 per minute. This does not necessarily indicate this frequency will be
maintained in future observation sessions. Data was recorded onto a template created
by David Szumlanski.
Figure 1.2

Percent of Intervals During Which Target Behavior No.2 Occurred

Session 1

Recorded During Interval

Session 2

Session 3

Percentage Recorded Per Session

Reliability was ensured through interobserver agreement. The data collected
was analyzed with the Reed and Azulay IOA system for calculating Trial by Trial,
resulting in 100% for each data points; no range data should be necessary. The
interobserver agreement for the total of three sessions combined is also 100%.

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References
IRIS Center for Training Enhancements, The. (2005). Measuring Behavior: Case Study
Unit. Retrieved on February 15, 2016 from http://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/wpcontent/uploads/pdf_case_studies/ics_measbeh.pdf.
Reed, D.D., & Azulay, R.L. (2011). A Microsoft Excel® 2010 Based Tool For Calculating
Interobserver Agreement. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 4(2), 45-52.