1). An hypothesis.
2). A paragraph explanation as to why you have created this hypothesis. Provide a
brief background statement and develop it with a few explanatory statements.
3). List of behaviors (minimally 10) that relate to the hypothesis.
4). List of operational definitions for each behavior, with citations of references where
5). Design for sampling observations (see Martin & Bateson and also the lecture on
6). Excel spreadsheet or table format with checksheet ethogram of time and behaviors.
7). List of the references used (in APA format).
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Steps to create a Hypothesis, develop the Operational Definitions and an Ethogram of at
least 10 behaviors:
1. Find and read at least
peer-reviewed journal articles relevant to your
species. Review articles are not acceptable.
2. Develop a hypothesis based on your readings about your species. State the
hypothesis in your Introduction or Methods section.
3. Martin & Bateson,
, is your “bible” for observational
research. Make sure to read before beginning your zoo observations, and include
it in your references.
4. Create an ethogram with which to collect data, making sure to select behaviors
relevant to your hypothesis. Operationally define each of these behaviors, citing
5. A minimum of
behavioral categories should be included in your ethogram.
You may need more behavioral categories; use as many as needed (10+) to
addresses your hypothesis.
6. Choose your sampling methods (e.g., focal, dyad, group) and method of data
collection (e.g., 1-0 time sampling on a 2 minute interval). This is your research
What is an hypothesis? How to develop one for your zoo observation project and
Step 1: An hypothesis is a concrete statement or question that can be supported or
answered with either a yes or no answer or with a trend in the data.
“Do captive adult male chimpanzees exhibit greater levels of aggression than
“Male captive adult chimpanzees exhibit greater levels of aggression than females.”
“Infant ringtail lemurs spend more time in proximate and direct physical contact with
their mothers than do their juvenile siblings.”
“Do captive female polar bears exhibit fewer stereotypies than the males in the same
“What percentage of time per day do captive King Penguins spend engaged in social
interactions, swimming and feeding compared to the Macaroni Penguins in the same
Step 2: Develop a testable hypothesis for an observational project. It should include
comparisons of categories of behavior
. For example, within a behavioral category
(e.g., social interactions), you can compare males and females within a species, or
infants to juveniles, or infants and juveniles to adults, etc. Or you could compare
behaviors exhibited with high numbers of zoo visitors present to when there are few
zoo visitors present. Be creative with your ideas.
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