People watching

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People watching or crowd watching is the act of observing people and their interactions, usually without their knowledge.[1][2] It involves picking up on idiosyncrasies to try to guess at another person's story. This includes speech in action, relationship interactions, body language, expressions, clothing and activities. Eavesdropping may accompany the activity,[3] though is not required.[4] 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. 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.[5] It should also not be confused with street photography; while the street photographer necessarily does people watching, he or she does so for the purpose of taking photographs of the people for art and documentary purposes.[6]

Proper people watching should follow society's expectation of privacy[7] and be ethical, without degrading the subjects. The legislation concerning non-consensual photography of people varies between countries, and should also be observed, such as with Wikipedia's own Commons page.[8]

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. ^ Overheard in New York
  4. ^ "People-Watching: Here’s Looking at You" New York Times 15 October 2006
  5. ^ ""How to Begin People Watching"". eHow. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  6. ^ Coomes, Phil (4 October 2010). "Street photography now". BBC News. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
  7. ^ Is it Illegal to Take Pictures of People Without Their Permission?
  8. ^