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I recently visited the Northridge Mall for the purpose of observing the behavior of a variety of people from separate age groups. These specific age groups included young children, preteens, teens, young adults, middle-aged adults, and seniors. Moreover, the subjects observed were of various ethnicities and could be seen engaging in various activities. Furthermore, some of the subjects were visiting the mall alone, while others could be seen interacting as part of a group. After careful observation and analysis, I identified a number of factors- including age, gender, purpose for visit, group size- that shaped and influenced the behavior of the subjects. The first group of subjects I observed was the elderly, which covered the age range of approximately 65 and above. Clearly, their age influenced their conduct, as most acted in a docile manner and spoke sparingly. For example, during my observation, one elderly subject didn’t even say a word, but simply sat, sipping a cup of coffee. Such passive behavior did not seem to be influenced by gender, for this man’s wife also sat silently and calmly. There also seemed to be a connection among the behavior of elders, their ethnicity, and their group size. For example, Asian seniors tended to be in larger groups, which seemed to consist of their extended families. A possible explanation for this is the common Asian tradition of always making sure an elderly relative is accompanied by another family member. These seniors also seemed interactive with their younger group members, and they conversed openly, and at times were even animated. By contrast, seniors from other cultures such as Hispanics or Caucasians were mostly found in couples and were quite inactive and spoke little. The majority of the elderly subjects appeared to be at the mall for the purpose of accompanying others, and shopping, so most were found in stores, or just walking with their companions. The second major group of subjects I observed was the middle-aged adults, ranging from age 40-65. Most of the middle-aged adults could be found as part of a family, which very often included small children. The fact that the middle-aged subjects were responsible for their children seemed to influence their behavior. For example, they behaved cautiously, never losing focus on their children for more than a few seconds at a time. Furthermore, their need to look
The next group I observed was the adolescents. and they spent most of their time shopping casually inside stores or “window shopping”. whose age ranged from 13-19. They moved quickly and eagerly. Their boisterous behavior was sometimes too rowdy. while an Asian subject reacted to her child’s rambunctious behavior with a quick slap to the child’s hand. No definitive conclusions could be drawn regarding ethnicity and adolescents. ethnicity did not seem to be a factor influencing young adults. Members of all ethnic groups conversed openly and warmly with their companions as they shopped. Women who shopped with others seemed to have covered the most ground.after their children required that they move slowly but alertly. ranging from 20-40 years old. which I conjectured was a result of their indifference to shopping. Groups of people from this age category consisted of three of four subjects at most. Men of this age group were usually either alone or with a female companion. and they spoke loudly. and members could be found in large groups from five to fifteen people. appeared much more relaxed in their behavior. with shopping being not as big of a concern. The middle-aged subjects without children. Again. The next group of subjects I examined was young adults. and with friends of the same gender. including husband-and-wife groups. Although there were sometimes smaller groups that seemed to be composed only of members . Ethnicity did not seem to be a factor influencing the behavior of middle-aged subjects. The only exception involved how members of different ethnic groups responded when their child acted up. They could sometimes be found at the food court. These subjects could usually be found in couples. Adolescents were rarely found alone. laughed uproariously. One Caucasian woman simply ignored her child’s outburst and continued shopping. These adolescents appeared to be at the mall to socialize with their friends. and meals were shared. engaging in animated conversations with expressive hand gesturing. which most likely reflected their enthusiasm for shopping. whether in couples or part of a larger group. They spent a considerable amount of time eating. eating and drinking. by contrast. and table manners were sometimes indecorous. and roughhoused and/or flirted excessively. The women of this age conversed freely. and they could be spotted frequently in a number of different shops. as there were no specific distinctions that could be made. Their behavior was reserved and somewhat lethargic.
this resulted in disciplining responses from parents. There was a larger number of preteen girls than boys. and subjects of this gender seemed to be more mature and poised in comparison to their boy counterparts. Ethnicity influenced the behavior of preteens who were with their parents. as though they were uncertain of how to behave in a public setting. but varied slightly by gender. Girls of this group tended to be more mature and composed as they accompanied their parents shopping more willingly than the boys. The ethnicity of children and parents shaped their interactions by how young children were treated and disciplined. and they seemed determined to explore as much of the mall as they can. ethnicity. and would be. consisting of subjects from about 10-12 years of age. with mostly peers. as in the case of the Asian child already mentioned. and it was soon discovered that he was lost. but still remain active. these were matched by a similar number of ethnically mixed groups. At times. As a person progressed through life. however. Most were found in the company of adults who brought them along for the purpose of shopping. there was one young child who was by himself. while preteens without parents would be in more ethnically diverse groups. my conclusions varied based upon the interplay of such factors such as age. This might of reflected the earlier development of girls than boys. have more varied behavior based on ethnicity. Those preteens that were not in the presence of adults acted boisterous and even rude.from the same ethnic group. The larger adolescent groups also tended to reflect ethnic diversity. with group members of the same ethnicity. These children tended to be very active and animated. He was crying and disoriented. they would be in bigger groups. ranging from age 4-9 All of these subjects were accompanied by adults. Their behavior was rather awkward and stiff. most of their . My observations allowed me to draw a number of conclusions regarding human behavior within a mall setting. Young children were first found in groups with their family. were very active. By their senior years. The final group observed was children. that were part of a group of older kids. Specifically. A much smaller group observed was preteens. obviously. as if they were trying to emulate the behavior of their adolescent friends. By their teenage years. Interestingly enough. gender. and they were never part of a large group. their behavior changed drastically as the factors that influenced their behavior shifted. The children were usually at the mall to shop and eat with their parents. There were a few. and group size.
or can be applied to other environments. with such factors like age and ethnicity being universal. Finally. the question arising is whether such observed behavior is specific to a mall setting.energy would be gone. They would be found in probably the calmest state of human life. and others specific to a shopping environment. .
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