Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Following people with cameras

I am a sucker for big studies trying to answer big questions while using straight forward methods. I ran into a particularly good one recently in the New York Times. Some social scientists spent about $9 million dollars following around 32 families with cameras trying to video tape almost everything they did for a week.

They then spent years recording every little detail from all of this video footage. This allows them to make statements like:

Outside the homes, the yards were open and green — but “no one was out there,” said Jeanne E. Arnold, a U.C.L.A. archaeologist who worked on the study. One family had a 17,000-square-foot yard, with a pool and a trampoline, and not even the children ventured out there during the study.


The couples who reported the least stress tended to have rigid divisions of labor, whether equal or not. “She does the inside work, and I do all the outside, and we don’t interfere” with each other, said one husband.
As I think about it, yards really don't seem all that important if you don't plan on throwing a lot of big parties or do a lot of gardening. I probably have spent as much time in neighborhood fields, and parks as I have in the yard.

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