Posts Tagged With: Quantitative Research

Book Notes- Measuring Behaviour: An Introductory Guide – Martin and Bateson

Martin, P. and Bateson, P. (1991). Measuring behaviour: An introductory guide (2nd ed.) New York, NY: Cambridge University Press

Measuring Behaviour, was a book I picked up because I was interested in investigating methods for measuring behavior via survey. The book serves that purpose poorly, but does provide a solid introduction to measuring the behavior of animals. Which really has nothing to do with my own research interests.

One of the most useful sections will be the beginning, particularly the books opening salvo. Why measure behavior?

“In addition to ints intrinsic interest, the study of behaviour is both intellectually challenging and practically important. Animas use their freedom to move and interact, both with their environments and with one another, as one  of the most important ways in which they adapt themselves to the conditions in which they live.” 1991, p 1.

The above is particularly useful when we add in, The Science of the Artificial’s perspective.[ I don’t have that book on my person at this moment and so will elaborate further in a moment].

The other factor that I found useful was the fact that each chapter had a suggested further reading section that served as a capstone. This provides contextual analysis linking, works cited to the content of the chapter directly. This introductory pointers to those conducting the sort of research described by Martin and Bateson, is probably invaluable, but not really my bag. However, these insights are buttressed by an annotated bibliography, which I found to be useful in and of itself.

The bulk of the book describes measurement, and qualification of behavior, as well as statistical methods for understanding it, many of which were not supremely relevant to my interest in the book, however I kept with it because where there was insight it was very useful. Particularly, there was an interesting discussion on describing behavior at the start of chapter 4. Here Martin and Bateson distinguish between describing the structure, or physical characteristics of a behavior, and the consequences, or effect of the behavior. This distinction is probably important, and also illuminating is the lack of motivation in describing behavior. They also do a good job laying out how behavior can be measured using the following categories; latency, frequency, duration, and intensity. These measurements can occur over long durations and be a state, or can be short, and spaced forming events. Of course as this book is concerned with Ethology, or the study of behavior the authors always stress careful science.


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