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Observing Behavioral Qualities
Animalmovements have distinctive qualities, and these qualities can vary even when the form of the movement remains relatively constant. Description of behavioral qualities by trained observers can be useful in basic behavioral research and in applications ranging from behavioral ecology to clinical medicine. A method called Laban movement analysis differentiates four separate bipolar effort factors that contribute to the quality of body movement. Using independent rankings of videotaped behavioral sequences,we verified that observers can distinguish behavioral qualities liably when using the Laban system. Observers generally agreed both on the kind(s) of effort factor(s) present and on the mode or degree of expression of each factor. We discuss the potential and limitations of the Laban system as applied to animal behavior and identify some philosophical issues that arise from attempts to link the study of behavioral quality to the study of form and space, and to a possible emerging "science of qualities".
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