Monthly Archives: January 2014

Staring at Strangers

Prompt: Go to a coffee shop with a notebook, order some coffee and sit down. Find someone in the room to stare at for two minutes or until they look back. Write a one or more page response on how they reacted and how it made you feel to do this.

For this research activity, I went to a café close to my work during my lunch hour. About one-quarter full of people, I choose a small table in the back of the café. The first thing that I noticed as I began to observe people was that everyone seemed focused on something else. People were engrossed in their conversations with their table mates, were heavily involved in introspection, or were glued to their laptops or smartphones. This being the case it was difficult to find someone to stare at who would even look up from their activities. I actually ended up staring at two different people. I wanted to see if they would react differently or similarly.

For my first case, I chose a woman who faced me while she was standing in line to order. I stared at her for about 45 seconds and once she realized I was staring at her she smiled at me. This smile was a surprising but pleasant reaction. I’m not sure if she smiled because my face looked harmless and/or happy, if she was trying to stop my staring, or if she is just a genuinely happy person. My best guess is that she was trying to stop my staring. I smiled back at her but am not sure if she saw as she quickly looked away after smiling at me.

For my second case, I chose a young woman who sitting at a table across the room but directly in my line of eyesight. I had to stare at her for more than two minutes and was afraid that she wouldn’t look up from her phone but eventually she did. She stared straight back at me as I stared at her. At first, I wondered if she was trying to figure out if I was staring directly at her or out the window that was behind her. After she continued to stare at me, I realized that she was returning my stare. I kept expecting her to look away but she didn’t. I think we stared at each other for about a good minute before I broke the uncomfortable eye contact. I did notice that after I had looked away from her she continued to stare at me for a few more minutes and then, began writing notes on her device. I don’t know if she was texting about the “rude” person who was staring at her, or perhaps, she was participating in the same experiment as me, unlikely though.

This exercise made me extremely uncomfortable. I prefer to stay unnoticed in the background around strangers and with this exercise, I had to consciously leave my comfort zone. I feared that the people I was staring at would cause a scene once they realized what I was doing and that they would approach my table. I abhor confrontations with strangers; therefore, I deliberately chose people who were not in close proximity to my table to help counter those worries. I was surprised more so by the second person’s reaction than the first. Going into this exercise, I didn’t expect the person to not only return my stare but also stare me down! The activity was an unexpected way to measure in the moment perceptions and the resulting behaviors, but I think I’ll take a break from staring at strangers.

Categories: Cognitive Psychology | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Meet the pets

I’ve been remiss in posting. My last post was 2 years ago. My goal is to make weekly postings. For this week, I am going to share with you pictures and introductions of my pets.



Holly – 1999 to 2013. Holly was my best friend and companion for 14 years. I lost her in July 2013. She came to me through a long and convoluted story. If you want to know, just let me know and I will share. I got her in my Jr year of college and we moved from Arkansas to Texas together. Throughout the many ups and downs of  my life, she remained a constant source of affection, love and comfort. I will truly miss her presence in my life but know that she is once again healthy and happy in the afterlife. The picture below is one of my favorites of her. The photo, taken before she went blind, remains a favorite of mine and I think her character shines through the picture.





Monk – 2006 to present. Monk is a short-haired black and white domestic cat. I affectionately call him Kitty Cow because he resembles a  Holstein. He is a pretty big cat and mostly acts like a  dog. I think it’s because when he was a kitty, Holly was his role model. He doesn’t enjoy laser pointer play, and while fairly lazy, he does enjoy going out in  the back yard and stalking the squirrels and birds. It’s funny to watch this big, bright cat try to hide in the non-existent grass. He thinks he’s invisible but sadly, he is mistaken. Luckily, the   squirrels and birds are faster than him. He does give a good chase though.





Penny – 2013 to present. Penny is a rescue dog. We got her in March 2013. We met her at the North Texas Irish Festival and fell in love that day. She is a double dappled Dachshund. Very ornery and playful, she loves to snuggle and cuddle. She’s about 4 years old and acts like a puppy (chewing tendencies included). She and Monk had a rough time at first but now they’ve adapted and he tolerates her. Penny is a licker and won’t stop unless you make her. We are working on that behavior but haven’t seem to made much headway. If there is any kind of squeaky toy in the vicinity, watch out! She will find it and destroy it in a matter of hours or a few days depending on the strength of the material.

Categories: Introduction | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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