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The objective of this assignment is to apply the scientific method to primate observation. As you have learned in your textbook readings and online learning activities, a primate is a lemur, loris, tarsier, monkey, or ape. Examples of primates can be found in your textbook. To meet the assignment objective, you will be writing a report (an essay) about the scientific observation of non-human primates and their behaviors.

Which primate interests you? What primate behaviors interest you? These are questions to ask yourself before getting started.

Plan which non-human primates you want to observe by formulating questions and hypotheses with predictions (more description in this article by Crocket & Ha and in this lab from Kenyon University). Questions frame what you want to know. Hypotheses are the answers to the questions. Predictions are what you expect to see to support or refute the hypotheses. Write this plan down.


Your plan will determine which method you will use to determine if the predictions are true or not. So, how do you observe primates? Primate behaviors can be observed using animal behavioral sampling methods. You can observe behaviors as expressed by individuals or groups, individual behaviors over long or within short bursts of time, or a combination all of the above. There are several methods you can employ to observe primates and they are outlined here and here. Write down what you see, hear, feel, and notice. Taking down data requires organization. Here are some sample datasheets you can use to organize your data: data sheet 1 and data sheet 2 (go to page 29).

Where do you observe primates? There are several live cams of primates living in zoos and sanctuaries, and options for narrated primate videos. Here are a few options:

You could also go to your local zoo. It is not required to go to the zoo for this assignment because it might not be open or feasible to go. If you go to the zoo, find the non-human primates. Observe the non-human primates quietly. Be respectful of their living space and other humans observing with you.

Once you’ve spent time observing primates, take the observations and data collections and write a report about your findings. Be sure to include the following information points:

  • Introduce the problem. Explain the background of what is known and include your question. Cite any information that you found.
  • Answer your question with a hypothesis and predictions.
  • Describe your methods and materials. Cite your methods, including the zoo and any videos you watched.
  • List the results and cite the results found – did your observations and data collection support or refute your hypothesis? If you use multiple sources for your data, you have to cite the sources in the text and at the end. So, if you use a combination of several videos and zoo visits, you must tell me which videos and zoo visits go with which pieces of data.
  • Explain why your data support or refute your hypothesis. Use the data and information from your textbooks to explain why your data support or refute your hypothesis. List any limitations or drawbacks in your methods that may have contributed to your results. 
  • Conclude by explaining what you found and with possible experiments for the future.

Notice that this assignment requires you to observe non-human primates (lemurs, lorises, tarsiers, monkeys, or apes). You may do so through videos or at the zoo. This is more than just analyzing what you read in a book or website about primates. Observations of humans or animals that are not primates for this assignment will not count for credit.

Here is the most common question for Essay 2.


All work must be addressed in essay format. It is recommended to format the paper with the following as headings to make sure they are addressed in the paper: introduction/hypothesis, materials & methods, results, discussion/limitations/future projects. Tables, figures, and descriptive ways of explaining data are encouraged. 

This assignment must be written using a word processing program and saved either as .doc or .docx. ASA format is required. All information must be cited in ASA in the text and at the end of the paper. It is expected that at least one reference from the course is used, such as the textbook or lab book.

  1. Essays must have at least 3 pages, double spaced, 1-inch margins, and 12 point font in Microsoft Word. Recommendations:
    1. put page numbers on your assignment to make it easier to read. 
    2. remember to put your name and the name of the assignment on your paper. 
    3. refer to the Social Science Style Sheet for any other questions.
  2. Examples are necessary. You must use an example to illustrate your point otherwise I have no idea that you understand what you are explaining.
  3. References are necessary. Cite your references in the text of your document and at the end as a list on a page titled Works Cited in American Sociological Association Format (a general list of websites is not acceptable). References must include one of the class resources – the textbook or one of the scientific articles or videos from the class. Absolutely no dictionaries or encyclopedias, non-scientific websites or sources – you will lose points if these are present in your paper.
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