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06. Behavioral Mapping - Pg. 18

RESEARCH METHOD 06 Behavioral Mapping Behavioral mapping is used to systematically document location-based observations of human activity, using annotated maps, plans, video, or time-lapse photography. Behavioral maps are used to document readily observable characteristics, movements, and activi- ties, including approximate ages and genders, whether people are alone or with others, what they are doing, time spent at fixed locations or in transit, and the details of environmental context. Place-centered mapping is based on observations of people at a site-specific location. Architectural plans may be used as the underlay for documenting observations, but more commonly researchers will construct their own measured diagram, including the basic space layout and architectural features, signage, and any furniture, fixed or portable items that may affect behaviors or interactions. Behaviors may be precoded for ease of recording, for example, with symbols, numbers, or abbreviations assigned to anticipate actions such as standing, sitting, walking, and talking. Alternately, flexible observations may begin with descriptive note taking and annotations of actions as they are witnessed. Maps created from several observations at different times are typically aggregated to indicate summary concentra- tions of people, place, and feature usage and activities. Common uses of place-centered maps are the analysis of retail stores and service centers, parks, and other public spaces, revealing traffic patterns and key points of interaction to determine or improve space design or service flow. 1 1. Sommer, Robert, and Barbara Sommer. A Practical Guide to Behavioral Research: Tools and Techniques. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. 2. See note 1 above. Further Reading Technology can afford new innovations in methods of behavioral mapping. For example, in an elaborate study of grocery-shopping behavior, Larson, Bradlow, and Fader traced common travel paths using radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags attached to shopping carts. See: Larson, J. S., E. Bradlow, and P. Fader. "An Exploratory Look at Supermarket Shopping