I’ve always loved people watching. I obviously missed my vocation of studying anthropology, although did have a few years doing shopper research in my job which was interesting. Simply people watching can be interesting for a lot of people, in particular while you’re spending time relaxing, outside, just passing the time away. It’s not just a time waster; there are benefits to people watching.
Whether it’s simply spotting people as they’re walking along in front of you. Or noticing how people interact as they’re sitting in a restaurant near you. Or just at home watching your family moving around you doing everyday activities. There’s a lot to see and learn from.
We are obviously talking about the general people watching while you’re out and about, living your life too. Not the creeping stalking kind. That’s definitely not acceptable. There’s interesting psychology papers about people watching to, there is a real science behind it and why we enjoy it.
The benefits of people watching
1. It can build empathy. If you notice the little things about people, how things might be different in certain situations, you can understand when people are under stress or struggling, and look at how to help them.
2. Be more present. If you’re noticing more about people around you, you’re taking part in the situation, and are more present than just on your phone or in your own bubble.
3. Understand people better. The more you see how people act, speak or react, the more you’ll get to understand different people, and their behaviours and feelings.
4. Remove yourself from your day to day life. A chance to take time out and forget your problems and day to day life.
5. Enjoyment. Let’s face it, humans are inherently nosy, hence why reality tv shows do so well. It’s interesting to watch what other people are doing
6. Get inspired. People are diverse in themselves, their culture, their movement, their hair and clothes. If you’re a writer it’s perfect inspiration for new characters, and authors often use traits of people they know in their books. But you can also get style ideas.
7. Social interaction. People watching allows you to observe and learn about different social interactions and dynamics.
8. Cultural exposure. By observing people from different backgrounds and cultures, you can gain a greater understanding and appreciation of diversity.
9. Emotion recognition. People watching can help you to improve your ability to read and understand emotions in others.
10. Creativity stimulation. Observing people can inspire creative ideas and projects.
11. Stress relief. Taking a break from your own thoughts and focusing on the actions and interactions of others can provide a sense of calm and relaxation.
12. It’s relaxing, because you can give it as much or as little effort as you want.
13. You may find you actively use your imagination which gives your brain a good workout.
14. It can also pass time and get you out and about. Usually you notice people while going about your daily routine or events.
You can just find a spot, sit, watch and listen, and see what you observe.
15. Education about human nature. Set yourself a hypothesis about people’s behaviour and see if you’re right. For example in Britain there are a lot of unspoken rules about buying rounds of drinks when people go out as a group. Or you could read something about how people behave, then go see if that is true by what you observe.
16. Spot differences between cultures. Whether at home or on holiday, there’s always lots to learn from other cultures and how people interact.
17. Put yourself in other people’s shoes. How could you react better by learning from others.
18. Appreciate the uniqueness in others. In how they dress, or act, what they believe in.
19. Find some version of yourselves in others. By noticing the action of others, you might understand yourself more.
Do you enjoy people watching?