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Open Collection of Student Writing (OCSW)

Ethnographic Experience

Ethnographic Experience Assignment       


-Acne occurs in more than 80% of adolescents. Based upon a group I observed, many of them had acne or red marking on their skin as a result of previous acne. Adolescents with higher stress tend to have more severe acne (Science Daily, 2007). I observed this to be true while conversing with an adolescent female; her worries and obsessions about college, though years away, appeared to be a cause of stress for her. This stress may be a possible indicator why she experiences more severe acne as opposed to the rest of the group I observed.

-Adolescents eat high amounts of calories, physically active males require a higher caloric intake. During my observation of a group of adolescent males, the males who participated in a game of volleyball ate nearly twice the number of calories than the males who did not participate.

-The textbook reads adolescents need about 9.25 hours of sleep every night to be in good physical and mental condition. I overhead a teenager around the age of fourteen exclaim he was exhausted because he woke up at eight o’clock in the morning and went to bed at around one o’clock in the morning. During my observation, it was recognizable that the adolescent male’s behavior was negatively affected as he appeared to lack energy and became verbally aggressive as the rest of the group overwhelmed him.

-Adolescents entering puberty develop body odor. Most adolescents I observed did have mild body odor: the use of body spray to mask body odor was also rampant.

-Adolescent males entering puberty begin to grow facial hair. In my observation, I noticed nearly half the adolescent males had patches of facial hair or had skin showing signs of shaving.


-Adolescents often concern themselves with future life plans. This was apparent when an adolescent female told me of her worries of one day going to college; at age sixteen she is filled with anxiety about attending college as an English major to one day become a teacher.

-Egocentrism, adolescents become concerned of their appearance because they believe everyone around them is directing attention towards them. At an event I attended, I overheard one adolescent female exclaimed in disgust when she discovered barbeque sauce on her face. She quickly wiped the sauce from her face and asked a peer how long the sauce had been there. Her reaction of disgust and questioning a peer about how long the sauce had been there are indicators of egocentrism.

-Use of creative sarcastic labels become an interest in adolescence. In one instance, I observed an adolescent male refer to another adolescent male as “Fartface” the adolescent replied with sarcastic ridicule comparing him to a bald monkey.

-During Early adolescence (11-14 years of age), the prevalence of self-esteem and positive body image tends to be the lowest. During my observations, I recognized most females in early adolescence dressed in oversized clothing. This could be an indicator of low self-esteem; as they enter puberty both their physical appearance and biology begins to change.

-Adolescent males engage in competitive conversation regarding knowledge and experience whereas adolescent females engage in conversation about themselves, feelings and relationships. While doing my observations I overheard adolescent males discussing the topic of video games, they compared scores as well as how many hours spent playing the game. The females on the other hand were discussing the recent loss of a family member and openly sharing their feelings of grief and demonstrating mutual support.


-Dating begins in adolescence. From my observations, adolescent males appeared to be more eager to start dating than the females observed.

– Peer pressure, conformity and peer relationships begin to be valued and of importance.  In my observation, I saw an instance when one adolescent male did not want to play volleyball. One other adolescent male tried to convince him to play, the first male resisted and then two more males joined in the persuasion. The first male joined in playing the volleyball game due to peer pressure, though it was clear he did not want to.

– The use of “slang” becomes prevalent amongst adolescents in group social settings. In an instance, I overheard an adolescent use a slang term in reaction to an adult’s tattoo as “sick” implying he enjoyed the tattoo and saw it as insightful.

-Youth strive to behave in ways that will boost their popularity: two common characteristics of popularity are attractiveness or athletic ability. During my observation, I noted adolescent females wearing make-up attracted more peers than adolescent females not wearing makeup. An adolescent male wearing clothing reflecting his role as an athlete for his school and attracted more peers than other adolescent males.

-Male friendships tend to reflect more shared interest and are often competitive towards each other and female friendships exhibit more emotional and supportive characteristics of friendship. In my observation, female adolescents had the tendency to prefer talking, and, at times, sing along expressively with music that was playing in the back ground. The adolescent males passed a football, making minimal conversation, and as the activity continued, moved further back to show off their throwing abilities.

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