Vol. 60, No. 3 | August 2015

Blind Observations in Behavior Studies


Melissa Kardish and colleagues have recently published a paper in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution that reports that far fewer of us than should be are conducting experiments with observers that are blind to the hypothesis tested or of treatment condition of a particular sample.

“We surveyed 492 recent studies in the fields of ecology, evolution, and behavior (EEB) to evaluate potential for observer bias and the need for blind experimentation in each study. While 248 articles included experiments that could have been influenced by observer bias, only 13.3% of these articles indicated that experiments were blinded. The use of blind observation therefore was either grossly underreported in the surveyed articles, or many EEB studies were not blinded. We hope that a concerted effort of the field of EEB—including researchers, peer-reviewers, and journal editors—will help promote and institute routine, blind observation as an essential standard that should be practiced by all sciences.”


Click here to enlarge

Fig 1. Of 492 articles published in January and February in 13 prominent journals covering the fields of ecology, evolution and behavior, 248 articles reported on experiments that had the potential for observer bias.


Click here to enlarge

Fig. 2. Of 13 surveyed journals publishing in ecology, evolution and behavior, the percentage of articles reporting the use of blind observation does not differ between journals.


Melissa R. Kardish, Ulrich G. Mueller, Sabrina Amador-Vargas, Emma I. Dietrich1, Rong Ma1, Brian Barrett, and Chi-Chun Fang. 2015. Blind trust in unblinded observation in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior. Front. Ecol. Evol., 19 May 2015 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2015.00051

The whole article can be found at: http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fevo.2015.00051/full
All Frontiers articles are CC-BY, so anyone can use, reuse, share, and adapt the article or parts of it, as long as the authors & the journal are credited.


Michelle Pellissier Scott
(Ex)Executive Editor

ABS Newsletter

Send general correspondence concerning the Society to Sue Bertram, the Secretary of The Animal Behavior Society, E-mail: [email protected]. Deadlines for materials to be included in the Newsletter are the 15th of the month preceding each issue. The next deadline is 15 October, 2015. Articles submitted by members of the Society and judged by the Secretary to be appropriate are occasionally published in the ABS newsletter. The publication of such material does not imply ABS endorsement of the opinions expressed by contributors.

Animal Behavior Society Website: http://www.animalbehaviorsociety.org

Animal Behavior

Animal Behavior, manuscripts and editorial matters: Authors should submit manuscripts online to Elsevier’s Editorial System (http://ees.elsevier.com/anbeh/). For enquiries relating to submissions prior to acceptance, contact the Journal Manager ([email protected]). For enquiries relating to submissions after acceptance, visit Elsevier at http://www.elsevier.com/journals. For other general correspondence, contact Kris Bruner, Managing Editor, Animal Behaviour, Indiana University, 407 N. Park Avenue, Bloomington, IN 47408, USA. E-mail: [email protected]. Phone: 812-935-7188.

Change of address, missing or defective issues: ABS Central Office, 2111 Chestnut Avenue, Suite 145, Glenview, IL 60025, US. Phone: 312-893-6585. Fax: 312-896-5614. E-mail: [email protected].