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Vigilance Patterns in Humans

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The scanning behaviour of humans eating was studied in a student's refectory. At group sizes two and three the group members did not alternate scanning behaviour. For group sizes 1-5 the average duration of the interscan intervals was correlated with group size. The frequency distributions of interscan intervals did not follow a negative exponential distribution. At all group sizes studied people did not scan randomly. Non-talking persons in dyads increased duration, but not frequency of looking up compared to talking persons at the same group size. Both frequency and duration of looking up of these non-talking people were lower than that of the singletons. Thus, interaction between group members cannot be the cause of the decrease in vigilance with increasing group size. The fact that the results of this study correspond with the results of studies on animal scanning behaviour suggests that looking for predators may once have been a reason for scanning in humans, too.

Affiliations: 1: (Forschungsstelle für Humanethologie in der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, D 8138 Andechs, B.R.D

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