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(Redirected from People watching)

People-watching or crowd watching is the act of observing people and their interactions as a subconscious doing.[1][2] It involves picking up on idiosyncrasies to try to interpret or guess at another person's story, interactions, and relationships with the limited details they have.[3] This includes speech in action, relationship interactions, body language, expressions, clothing and activities. Eavesdropping may accompany the activity,[4] though is not required.[5]

For some people, it is considered a hobby, but for many others, it is a subconscious activity they partake in every day without even realizing it. People-watching is not to be confused with naturalistic observation. Naturalistic observation is used for scientific purposes, whereas people-watching is a casual activity, used for relaxation or inspiration for characters or characters' mannerisms in their own creative works.[6] It should also not be confused with street photography; while the street photographer necessarily does people-watching, they do so for the purpose of taking photographs of the people for art and documentary purposes.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Davis, Candace (September 6, 2014). "People Watching: Harmless or Perverted?". Huffington Post. Retrieved December 14, 2015.
  2. ^ Burton, Tara Isabella (October 2015). "People-Watching in Paris". National Geographic. Retrieved December 14, 2015.
  3. ^ Quadflieg, Susanne; Koldewyn, Kami (2017-04-12). "The neuroscience of people watching: how the human brain makes sense of other people's encounters". Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1396 (1): 166–182. doi:10.1111/nyas.13331. hdl:1983/1e73b5d8-848d-40e0-a5c1-80392dcfae20. ISSN 0077-8923. PMID 28405964. S2CID 24422967.
  4. ^ Overheard in New York
  5. ^ "People-Watching: Here’s Looking at You" New York Times 15 October 2006
  6. ^ "How to Begin People Watching". eHow. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  7. ^ Coomes, Phil (4 October 2010). "Street photography now". BBC News. Retrieved 6 April 2016.