Fall 2022 San Diego Community College Student Anthropology Journal

Edited by William Leonard

Published by Arnie Schoenberg

Cover Photo by William Leonard


Volume 6,Issue 2

Fall, 2022

latest update: 10/1/23

Creative Commons License CC BY-NC

Unless otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)

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Table of Contents

Preface by William Leonard

The Human Effects of Racism” by Kimberly Khounborin and Sandy Khounborin

Environmental Effects on Human Evolution: Sickle Cell Anemia” by José Guitierrez?

Previously Unrecorded Tool Use Behavior in Tufted Capuchins (Cebus apella)” by Patrick Burke

Using Indigenous Relationships with Animals as a Guide for Primate Conservation” by Luis Anaya

Ethnographic Study of Pop Culture” by Beverly Escoto

Modern Love: The Upsides and Downsides of Dating Apps” by Tamires Beadling

Comparison of Traditional Ethnomedical Traditions between Various Communities in the United States” by Iris Thompson

Preface by William Leonard

The Fall 2022 San Diego Community College Student Anthropology Journal features an overarching theme of evolution, both cultural and biological. The holistic nature of anthropology is represented through the various topics written about in these articles, including: the effects of racism, previously undocumented Tufted Capuchin behavior, and dating apps are a few of the subjects that are explored in this journal. Evolution can be used as a means to define human existence. Each featured article examines a unique aspect of the human experience, which can be used to examine the present and future.

“The Human Effects of Racism” by Kimberly Khounborin and Sandy Khounborin investigates the mental, emotional, physical, and biological effects of racism. The authors reference their own experiences and the events following the COVID-19 global pandemic. They explore the idea of a “new normal” based on the past few years. The mental and emotional effects of racism lead to consequences in the human body.

“Environmental Effects on Human Evolution: Sickle Cell Anemia” by Jose Guitierrez dives deeper into sickle cell and malaria. Its environmental effects on society are defined and its health effects, geological origins, and social impacts are explained.

“Previously Unrecorded Tool Use Behavior in Tufted Capuchins (Cebus apella)” by Patrick Burke observed the behavior of tufted capuchins at the San Diego Zoo to better understand early hominin tool use, and found an unknown primate behavior where these monkeys insert twigs in their ears.

In the “Ethnography Study of Pop Culture” by Beverly Escoto, they focus on youth, phones, and popular culture through fieldwork done at the Comic-Con Museum in Balboa Park, San Diego. A four day event was held that encapsulated pop culture typically presented at Comic-Con. This environment served as an excellent place to study people’s receptive behavior. This served as a means to comprehend how pop culture shapes individuals, and as a result how these individuals shape it. This fieldwork included people of different backgrounds, ages, and ethnicities; experiencing a shared culture and happiness.

In “Modern Love: The Upsides and Downsides of Dating Apps” by Tamires Beadling, the dynamic between romance, relationships, and the internet is examined. The role of social media in re-shaping social interaction is explored. The internet has transformed the approach to romantic relationships in an effective way for finding partners. It has also had an impact on the psychology of the human mind with the ego boost and instant gratification.

The “Comparison of Traditional Ethnomedical Traditions between Various Communities in the United States” by Iris Thompson analyzes the ethnomedicinal practices between various unique cultural communities. Data were collected from various studies using methods such as participant interviews, archaeological surveys, recorded oral narratives, and free-lists. Ethnomedical perspectives included representatives of a contemporary migrant Mexican community in Atlanta, Georgia, African American women living on a plantation in Louisiana from 1840-1949, and Delfina Cuero, a Kumeyaay woman who lived throughout San Diego, in the 1900s. Such findings and comparisons enable better interactions between more marginalized communities and local healthcare systems. By understanding how people understand health and relate to medicine, relationships between health care providers and patients can adapt and reach more people as they feel more comfortable and understood. It is important as this could enable better interactions between marginalized communities and healthcare systems.

“The Human Effects of Racism” by Kimberly Khounborin and Sandy Khounborin

We chose to investigate and research how racism can not only affect mental health, but also how racism can affect a person physically, emotionally, and biologically. Why did we choose this topic? While we are nearing the end of the pandemic and settling into what our new normal will look like, we both reflected on the past two and a half years and how racism has become more prevalent in certain communities, mainly the Asian community due to COVID-19 and also in the African American community in early 2020. As Sandy is of Asian descent and Kimberly is half Hispanic and half Caucasian, we’ve each experienced racism at some point in our life, but seeing it come to light as we’re now older makes it hit home more than ever. We have reflected in many ways how experiences with racism have shaped and created who we are today. It brought about feelings of shame, discouragement, and the effect it had on our self-esteem, and how that has influenced us growing up and living our lives. Throughout this project, we’ve had a mix of emotions about what we’ve researched and learned about how racism really affects us as people and as a whole human being, not just how it affects our mental health or perspective of others so let’s dive into what we’ve found.

In recent years, mental health concerns have been a priority with many people in regards to work, life, and family as well as speaking more openly and candidly about struggles one may have with mental health. But how does racism, which has seen a major increase due to multiple circumstances, affect a person overall? Believe it or not, racism affects almost every part of a person: physically, mentally, emotionally, and in some cases biologically. Racism is associated with poor mental health and in some cases, poor physical health (Lewsley, 2020). What is going on inside your head can affect your life in a negative or positive way. When someone experiences racism, they have an added stress to their possibly already crowded mind, and as we all know, stress can be the factor for many physical conditions that can have a lasting effect. High blood pressure, weight gain, and anxiety are just a few. A 2019 study found that racist experiences appear to increase inflammation in African American people, raising their risk of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease and kidney disease (Lewsley, 2020). We know these can possibly be lifelong conditions that can cause many other issues throughout the body, so it's sad to know that racism, something so preventable, can be the cause of so many other issues than can break down a person’s body.

But what about the genetic part of racism? The way race is generally accepted now by scientists is not as a biological reality, but merely a justification for slavery based on cultural and social beliefs (Baker, 2021). Scientists don’t even refer to it as “race”, but rather genetic ancestry and thanks to genetics and research, scientists have found that roughly 94% of human gene variation is found within populations, and the remaining 6% is between populations, which means 94% of humans are from one race and only 6% have multiple racial ancestry. Regardless of the scientific facts, racist groups such as white supremacists try to use genetics, or the misinterpretation of genetics, to support their views by ranking populations to promote racial supremacy. Because of this, the major cause of health disparities is racism, poverty, stress, and other factors that are associated with race and even low-income communities (Baker, 2021). In a sense, our genetics and how others interpret those genetics causes them to misinterpret the information and use it for their own agenda, which could then result in racism. Since both racism and stress are major causes of health disparities, this shows that even with scientific facts and evidence, anyone who believes one thing and makes racist comments can make the person receiving those comments suffer internally, and externally, because of the other effects of stress, such as high blood pressure and heart disease. Pseudoscientific methods that influence society, even still today, “prove” white biological superiority and are used to show racial characteristics and many tactics used to justify white supremacy have been based on science (Harvard Library 2022).

A group of scientists which include medical doctors wondered how the effects and trauma of racism can get literally “under your skin” and how it affects your biology. When you’re stressed or embarrassed due to someone making a racist comment or gesture towards you, your heart starts to pound and your adrenaline and cortisol shoot up. But what exactly do these hormones going up do? Well, they prepare you for when you need to run or do something immediately in a stressful situation. If you experience the stress of racism too often, your body can react badly to these stress hormones and can begin to affect your cardiovascular system and cause inflammation which can lead to further complications (Bichell, 2017).

Another way that race affects biology is through the use of medicine and how racial differences need to be looked at differently in regards to medicine. African Americans have a completely different experience when it comes to healthcare than most other races, and experience healthcare disparities far more frequently, simply based on the color of their skin. This can lead to mistreatment in conditions or even worse, completely being ignored by doctors, which happens far too often. Take into account the infant mortality rate of the Non-Hispanic Black community: the rate of infant deaths is more than twice that of than Non-Hispanic Whites (CDC, 2019). The reason for this higher rate is due to disparities around healthcare, such as lack of access to prenatal care and greater exposure to risk factors around the time of pregnancy (Novoa and Taylor, 2018).

In conclusion, racism and the effects on humans and science behind racism causes harm to individuals by causing stress and mental health issues, which can spiral into other problems within the human body such as high blood pressure, heart problems, and even weight gain. Being able to make sure you’re given all the facts and using those facts towards good, and not to fuel your own agenda or ideas, is crucial to ensuring racism isn’t continued throughout the next generation – we can break those walls and barriers and make sure those in other high-risk communities, such as low-income communities, are treated fairly and equally like everyone else in communities outside of these. Ensuring they have access to help and questions, can go a long way in making sure racism stops with our generation and stops causing underlying issues to those who experience it.

Works Cited

Baker, Beth. “Race and Biology.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 15 Jan. 2021, https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/71/2/119/6101069.

Bichell, Rae Ellen. “Scientists Start to Tease out the Subtler Ways Racism Hurts Health.” NPR, NPR, 11 Nov. 2017, https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/11/11/562623815/scientists-start-to-tease-out-the-subtler-ways-racism-hurts-health.

“Infant Mortality.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22 June 2022, https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternalinfanthealth/infantmortality.htm.

Lewsley, Joanne. What are the effects of racism on health and mental health? Medical News Today, Viewed October 2022. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/effects-of-racism#socioeconomic-status

Manager, Sarah Nadeau Senior Media, et al. “Exploring African Americans' High Maternal and Infant Death Rates.” Center for American Progress, 2 Nov. 2022, https://www.americanprogress.org/article/exploring-african-americans-high-maternal-infant-death-rates/#:~:text=Most%20research%20on%20health%20disparities,poor%20physical%20and%20mental%20health.

Mental Health America. Racism and Mental Health. Mental Health America, viewed October 2022. https://www.mhanational.org/racism-and-mental-health

Schoenberg, Arnie. "Racism– Section 7.4.1". Introduction to Physical Anthropology. viewed October 2022. https://arnieschoenberg.com/anth/bio/intro/section7.html#race

Harvard Library. “ScientificRacism.” Viewed October 2022. https://library.harvard.edu/confronting-anti-black-racism/scientific-racism.

Author’s Bio

My name is Kimberly Khounborin. I am originally from North Carolina, but have been in San Diego since 2017 off and on. While Mesa College is very close to my house, I prefer taking courses online for convenience purposes and it works best around my work schedule. I am currently on track to graduate with my Associates for Transfer in Business Administration at the end of the 2022-2023 school year, where I plan on transferring to SDSU to continue for my Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. I am currently working in the human resources field and I'm very happy with my current position.

Hello. My name is Sandy and I'm a native of San Diego, but also lived in North Carolina for a year before and during COVID. I've been in school for a while because I was unsure of which path I wanted to take, but finally decided to follow my passion. I really enjoy learning about psychology and child development, so moving forward I'll be focusing on those two options for a career. I'm currently not working, but do create some online products here and there for both enjoyment and income.

“Environmental Effects on Human Evolution: Sickle Cell Anemia” by José Guitierrez?

The environment has had an impact on human evolution since even before the start of modern humans, and continues today. For example, humans evolved the ability to create vitamin D, changing the size of internal organs, and the natural immunities to viruses and diseases. I examine sickle cell anemia and its health effects, the geography of its origins, including Africa and Asia, and the migration throughout the world, and environmental effects that it had on society.


The method used for this project is reviewing articles that have been peer reviewed, and personal observations of symptoms that are expressed by populations possessing sickle cell. This focuses on symptoms, theories of origin, transportation throughout the world, and civil effects.

Sickle Cell Anemia and Associated Health Effects

Sickle cell anemia is an inherited red blood cell disorder. An individual with sickle cell anemia must have two S alleles, one from each of their parents (Schoenberg 2020). Healthy red blood cells are round and they carry oxygen around the body. Sickle cells are red blood cells that form the shape of a “C” or sickle. These cells die early causing a constant shortage of red blood cells carrying oxygen through the body (CDC 2022).

The change of shape in the red blood cell is harmful to the human body during different life stages. From birth to 12 months, the disease has been detected by doctors, and symptoms include: blood infections, splenic sequestration, and dactylitis. From ages 1 to 10 years of age, symptoms include: acute chest syndromes (infection, infarction, fat embolism, and pulmonary sequestration), stroke, and hypersplenism (splenic enlargement, significant red cell sequestration, marked bone marrow expansion). From ages 10 to 18, symptoms include: nocturnal enuresis, bone pain crisis, avascular necrosis of the femoral head, leg ulceration, delayed growth and puberty, pregnancy. In adulthood, all of the above symptoms may continue and vary in severity (Serjeant, 2013).

Since sickle cells cause so many health problems for those affected, why does this mutation persist? Many factors point to malaria epidemics. “Sickle cell anemia is an example of biocultural evolution because human cultural activity was the cause of people's genetic change. People in West Africa developed a new subsistence practice that produced more food by clearing land and planting crops. It also created open spaces for mosquitoes to breed, and higher population densities that made it easier for malaria to spread. As malaria became endemic it became more advantageous to have” the S allele that causes Sickle Cell Anemia (Schoenberg 2022). Why was it so necessary to human survival to have S alleles where malaria was common?

“Malaria is a life-threatening disease. It’s typically transmitted through the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito. Infected mosquitoes carry the Plasmodium parasite. When this mosquito bites you, the parasite is released into your bloodstream. Once the parasites are inside your body, they travel to the liver, where they mature. After several days, the mature parasites enter the bloodstream and begin to infect red blood cells. Within 48 to 72 hours, the parasites inside the red blood cells multiply, causing the infected cells to burst open. The parasites continue to infect red blood cells, resulting in symptoms that occur in cycles that last two to three days at a time” (Burke, 2019).

With malaria causing red blood cells to burst causing more red blood cells to be infected by the disease. Burke says that “If this is not treated immediately the infected person can suffer from chills, sweating, fever, vomiting, nausea, coma, and death” (Burke, 2019). Since malaria is found in tropical and sub-tropical locations many of these symptoms would lead to death whether it is from dehydration or from lack of nutrition due to the vomiting. It is beneficial to have immunity to malaria. Sickle cells provided that immunity. Where mosquitos thrive, there is a threat of malaria since they are a common courier of the virus. With sickle cell, “when the parasite infects a sickle-shaped cell, there is less room to reproduce, and it doesn't pop the cell, so it's not spread. Sickle cell anemia is bad, but it gives you immunity to malaria” (Schoenberg, 2022). This became a vital mutation in areas with high rates of malaria carrying mosquitos. Without that mutation entire populations of people could have been wiped out by the disease. Though it is not a healthy mutation there are good reasons behind it becoming vital to their survival. With fewer people succumbing to the health hazards of sickle cell compared to those succumbing to the effects of malaria, the sickle cell trait was a good evolutionary tradeoff.

Geography of Sickle Cell Disease

African Populations

Seeing how sickle cells are most frequently seen in tropical and sub-tropical areas because the environment is perfectly suited for mosquitos, there is an overwhelming amount of sickle cell carriers in West Africa. Did this cause sickle cells? There is approximately a 2% chance of having sickle cell if you are from Africa. Certain populations within Western Africa have approximately a 20% chance of having sickle cell which is 10 times more than other groups on the continent. (Serjeant, 2013). This is due to the history of malaria outbreaks in their area. In Ghana in 2020 over 5 million people were diagnosed with malaria (Sasu, 2022). Modern medicine has been able to keep the cases that low (still more than it should be), so we can assume that the number of affected people 50 years ago, 100 years ago, or even further back the numbers could have been that two, three, four times as many people infected by malaria. All these numbers could have been much higher if the sickle cell mutation wasn’t as frequent as it is. Out of those 5 million people who were recently diagnosed in Ghana with malaria, approximately 21 thousand died of it. The same applies here. How many more could have died if they didn’t have sickle cell in the area?

Arabian Gulf and Indian Populations

Though it is widely thought that sickle cell originated in Western Africa, there is also evidence that people in other parts of the world also had sickle cell mutations. The Arabian Gulf is one of those areas that are believed to have evolved this mutation separately from the mutation in Western Africa (Hazmi, Hazmi, and Warsy, 2011). Though one might believe that the sickle cell mutation appeared in the area because of the migrating populations from Africa going to Asia, this is not the origin of the sickle cell gene in this region. They have established that the Arabian Gulf and India have their own haplotype which is called the fourth haplotype or the Saudi-Asian haplotype. This is still much less common than its African counterpart (Hazmi, Hazmi, and Warsy, 2011).

North and South American Populations

With there being different origins of sickle cell, we can see how that has affected populations outside of Africa, the Arabian Gulf, and India. People of African descent in the United States and in the Caribbean who were brought over through forced migration during the slave trade have a higher chance of having one or both of the S alleles (Gabriel and Przybylski, 2010). Being so close to the coast, and having outbreaks of malaria which cause the adaptation of sickle cell, it is not a surprise that many people would have the mutation. This has led to around 7% - 8% sickle cell rate within African American populations in the United States, though it is less life threatening with modern medicine (Nephrol, 2010). People of any descent from regions that have high frequencies of sickle cell, will have a greater chance of getting it even when they have been far removed from the place of origin. It is not always linked to Western Africa, the Arabian Gulf, And India. There is a 3% chance for those of European descent, also a 7% chance if you are of Hispanic descent (Biggers, 2021; Green, et al. 2015). In 2011 it was estimated that Brazil had 30,000 people with sickle cell. Through migration and forced migration there will always be a chance of having sickle cell in any part of the world.

Effects Sickle Cell had on Urban Environments

Sickle Cell anemia has social consequences beyond genetics. “There has been discrimination for those that have sickle cell in the United States. Most of it was towards African Americans because sickle cell was associated with Black people. They were not awarded the opportunity to become pilots in the United States Military. This is because there was a fear of them suffering from sickling events while they were in high altitudes” (Schoenberg, 2022). There were no laws in place in the mid to late 1900’s protecting people with sickle cell. Employers could refuse to hire or terminate an employee that was found to have sickle cell. Wages could also be reduced if an employee was found to possess this kind of anemia. They could face segregation from the rest of the work force and be placed into an area alone or with others that also had sickle cell. Employers could also mandate that all of their employees had to be screened for sickle cell before being offered an opportunity to work for the company (LWC 2010).

In conclusion, though sickle cell evolved due to malaria outbreaks as a natural immunity, it has also been labeled as a disease by some, and led to discrimination. The sickle cell trait causes red blood cells to change their shape and prevents the malaria virus from penetrating and multiplying within the cell. This change in the shape of the red blood cells doesn’t come without consequences though, because the shape prevents oxygen from being carried around the body causing more harm with symptoms related to it. Sickle cell being a natural defense against malaria in the human body, it makes sense that people from areas that are prone to malaria epidemic would evolve this way for their survival. Migration and forced migration from and to other regions where malaria is also an epidemic has brought sickle cell into the Americas. The highest rates of people with sickle cell are descendants of those from areas with high frequencies of the gene. All those locations are not centralized but can be derived from starting points with similar environmental conditions, but the evolution of the trait happened in different areas at different times. Through forced migration came discrimination and that discrimination has still been carried out in recent times. With sickle cell being associated with African Americans there was going to be preset discrimination and this added more fuel to the fire.


Biggers, A. (2021, February 1). Sickle cell anemia in African Americans: Symptoms, causes, and more. Medical News Today. Retrieved November 3, 2022, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/african-american-anemia#causes

Burke, D. (2019, March 8). Malaria: Causes, symptoms, and diagnosis. Healthline. Retrieved November 3, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/health/malaria

Derebail, V. K., Nachman, P. H., Key, N. S., Ansede, H., Falk, R. J., and Kshirsagar, A. V. (2010, March). High prevalence of sickle cell trait in African Americans with ESRD. Journal of the American Society of Nephrology : JASN. Retrieved November 3, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2831865/

El-Hazmi, M. A. F., Al-Hazmi, A. M., and Warsy, A. S. (2011, November). Sickle cell disease in Middle East arab countries. The Indian journal of medical research. Retrieved November 3, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249957/

Gabriel, A., and Przybylski, J. (2010). Sickle-Cell Anemia: A Look at Global Haplotype Distribution. Nature news. Retrieved November 3, 2022, from https://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/sickle-cell-anemia-a-look-at-global-8756219/

Huttle, A., Maestre, G., Lantigua, R., and Green, N. S. (2015, March). Sickle cell in sickle cell disease in Latin America and the United States. ResearchGate. Retrieved November 3, 2022, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/273123730_Sickle_Cell_in_Sickle_Cell_Disease_in_Latin_America_and_the_United_States

Louisiana Workforce Commission. “Prohibition of sickle cell trait discrimination; exceptions.” (2010, April). Retrieved November 3, 2022, from https://www.laworks.net/Downloads/Posters/PRPosters/sickle_cell_ltr_color.pdf

Schoenberg, A. (2021, October 10). Introduction to physical anthropology. Arnie Schoenberg. Retrieved November 3, 2022, from https://arnieschoenberg.com/anth/bio/intro/section2.html#malaria

Serjeant, G. R. (2013, October 1). The natural history of sickle cell disease. Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in medicine. Retrieved November 3, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3784812/

Author’s Bio

I am from Washington state. I grew up near the border in the town of Lynden. Shortly after graduating I joined the USMC where I spent 8 years enlisted. I went on deployments to the Middle East and Japan. While deployed during the pandemic I took 3 college classes and shortly after I ended my active service. I enrolled in the San Diego Community College District, and I am planning on getting all my prerequisites done to transfer to San Diego State University where I will pursue a bachelor’s in finance. My hobbies are playing video games, going to the dog park, traveling, and going to the gym.

“Previously Unrecorded Tool Use Behavior in Tufted Capuchins (Cebus apella)” by Patrick Burke


Capuchin tool use has been an area of increasing interest in understanding the evolution of early hominin tool use. My subject group was a captive population of tufted capuchins (Cebus apella) at the San Diego Zoo in California. During the observation, I found a behavior for which I could find no prior documentation, where a monkey inserted a twig in his ear. Furthermore, I found that the majority of tool use instances were from wooden tools as well as a possible peak time for tool usage.


Anthropology is the holistic study of humanity (Schoenberg 2022) so it may be confusing that Primatology, a field of study which concerns itself with non-human (not Homo sapiens) primates. However, primate studies are frequently used by anthropologists to better understand human behavior, evolution, and health. This is because physical anthropology is concerned with understanding humans as a biological creature.

Capuchin monkeys may be one of the better analogues for studying the development of early hominin tool usage, due to their anatomical similarities to hominins and their possession of one of the most diverse tool kits of any monkey (Proffitt et al. 2016). They are the only known group of monkeys to intentionally make and use flaked tools without being taught (Bandini et al. 2022).

I predicted that tufted capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) would use tools during the study in a manner similar to how other researchers documented other capuchin monkeys. The expected tool usage included activities such as digging, hammering, probing, raking, sponging, striking, sweeping, throwing, waving, wedging, and wiping as identified by Steinberg (2021). The behaviors I expected to see the least were digging, wiping, sponging, throwing, and waving. I suspected that the capuchins would mostly use hammers and anvils for the purpose of food processing nuts. Tool modification has also been observed in primates. I suspected that such behavior was infrequent and only done when needed.

I also wanted to see if there was a particular time in which tool usage was best observed; I predicted that 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM, or the Zoo’s opening hour, would see the most tool use instances because of the prevalence of food.


The study focused on a group of ten capuchin monkeys at the San Diego Zoo for eight total hours of observation over two days between the hours of 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM. I looked at the number of instances of tool use in ten-minute increments. Each instance began when tool use started and ended when the monkey stopped using the tool. Individuals were not tracked during the course of the observation.


Over the course of the observation the monkeys performed probing, raking, sweeping behaviors, as well as the previously unrecorded behavior. All tools were sticks, and most were modified, primarily with the subjects’ teeth, removing bark, excess branches, and forming a point. Probing, raking, and sweeping appeared to be done for the purpose of food acquisition.

The study discovered a new tool use, wherein a monkey would stick a twig in its own ear or the ear of another capuchin and hold it there. I have decided to call this behavior twig in ear (TiE) behavior until this behavior is better understood. I encountered this behavior a total of four times on a single day. The behavior always occurred whilst the monkey with the stick in their ear was lying on their side, and frequently occurred during grooming. The behavior was observed in two monkeys, one of whom was identified as Wiley by a zookeeper who regularly works with the monkeys.

As shown on the tables below, I observed no tool usage from 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM on both days of observation. On October 11th (see table 1), a total of 8 tool use instances were observed most of which were probing for food. On November 9th (see table 2) a total of 7 tool use instances were observed with over half of them being from probing. TiE was only observed on October 11th. See the appendix, Tables 3 and 4, for a breakdown of data.

Table 1: observation summary, October 11, 2022
Total Probing Raking Sweeping TiE
9:00 AM 0 0 0 0 0
10:00 AM - - - - -
11:00 AM - - - - -
12:00 PM 5 2 1 0 2
1:00 PM 3 1 0 0 2

key: - = observation did not occur; 0 = not observed

Table 2: observation summary, November 9, 2022
Total Probing Raking Sweeping TiE
9:00 AM 0 0 0 0 0
10:00 AM 4 2 1 1 0
11:00 AM 2 2 0 0 0
12:00 PM 1 1 0 0 0
1:00 PM 0 0 0 0 0


Eight hours of observation is not a statistically significant amount of time compared to many other observations that have been carried out on the Cebus genus like the observation carried out by Spagnoletti et alia (2011) who had more than 1,000 hours of observation. Despite this shortcoming it can still provide a general idea of the kinds of tool use behaviors they are engaging in.

Most of my hypotheses were not supported. During the observation there were no instances of nut cracking with either hammerstones or sticks as I had predicted. Instead, probing, raking, and sweeping were the only behaviors I observed from my list of predicted tool use behaviors. The lack of hammering and striking was likely due to peanuts being soft enough to crack without the use of percussion tools. The only hypothesis that were supported was that waving, sponging, wiping, and digging were not observed. Waving, as recorded in Steinberg’s (2021) observations, was used for communication and not observed in the San Diego group. The absence of sponging, wiping, and digging was likely due to a lack of appropriate enrichment material to allow for those behaviors.

The only other behavior in published literature that I could find that seems similar to TiE behavior is grass in ear behavior (van Leeuwen et al. 2014), though this connection may just be superficial. Not only does this behavior appear to have no association with grooming unlike TiE behavior but grass in ear behavior persists over longer periods of time including while moving about. The two most likely explanations for the TiE behavior observed are that it is an attempt to relieve irritation from an ear infection or to clear a cerumen buildup.

I believe the reason I observed no tool use from 9:00 AM until 10:20 AM was due to access to more easily acquired food that did not require tools to obtain. The capuchins started grooming at approximately 12:30 PM on both days of observation, which could suggest that TiE behavior could occur around that time if it is a part of grooming for some capuchins at the zoo as I believe. During this time, tool use instances dropped considerably due to the shift in behavior.


These findings suggest that the capuchins at the San Diego Zoo use tools primarily for food acquisition and not food processing as was originally hypothesized. The only tool use behavior that I observed which differs from that trend was TiE. The optimal time to observe tool usage may be between the time of 10:20 AM and 12:30 PM though a larger dataset across multiple groups would be needed to strongly assert this information.


I want to express my appreciation to the San Diego Zoo with a special acknowledgement to the keepers and volunteers for their patience and dedication. I would like to thank Maximilian Locke, Hamze Yousef, and Mandie Hankinson for their initial contributions to this article.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests: the author declares none. There was no attempt to interact with the subjects and the author wore a mask and was vaccinated against COVID 19 in order to minimize the risk of disease spreading to the subjects.

References Cited

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Schoenberg, Arnie
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Spagnoletti, Noemi, Elisabetta Visalberghi, Eduardo Ottoni, Patricia Izar, and Dorothy Fragaszy
2011 "Stone tool use by adult wild bearded capuchin monkeys (Cebus libidinosus). frequency, efficiency and tool selectivity". Journal of Human Evolution 61(1): 97–107. DOI:10.1038/nature20112

Steinberg, Danielle Leigh
2021 "A robust tool kit: First report of tool use in Crested Capuchin monkeys (Sapajus robustus)". eScholarship, University of California. UCLA, May 26. https://escholarship.org/uc/item/0q25v73p

van Leeuwen, Edwin J., Katherine A. Cronin, and Daniel B. Haun
2014 "A group-specific arbitrary tradition in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)". Animal Cognition 17(6): 1421–1425. DOI:10.1007/s10071-014-0766-8


Table 3: extension of Table 1, October 11, 2022
Total Probing Raking Sweeping TiE
9:00 - 9:10 AM 0 0 0 0 0
9:11 - 9:20 AM 0 0 0 0 0
9:21 - 9:30 AM 0 0 0 0 0
9:31 - 9:40 AM 0 0 0 0 0
9:41 - 9:50 AM 0 0 0 0 0
9:51 - 10:00 AM 0 0 0 0 0
10:01 - 10:10 AM - - - - -
10:11 - 10:20 AM - - - - -
10:21 - 10:30 AM - - - - -
10:31 - 10:40 AM - - - - -
10:41 - 10:50 AM - - - - -
10:51 - 11:00 AM - - - - -
11:01 - 11:10 AM - - - - -
11:11 - 11:20 AM - - - - -
11:21 - 11:30 AM - - - - -
11:31 - 11:40 AM - - - - -
11:41 - 11:50 AM - - - - -
11:51 - 12:00 PM - - - - -
12:01 - 12:10 PM - - - - -
12:11 - 12:20 PM 0 0 0 0 0
12:21 - 12:30 PM 1 1 0 0 0
12:31 - 12:40 PM 1 0 1 0 0
12:40 - 12:50 PM 1 1 0 0 0
12:51 - 1:00 PM 2 0 0 0 2
1:01 - 1:10 PM 0 0 0 0 0
1:11 - 1:20 PM 0 0 0 0 0
1:21 - 1:30 PM 0 0 0 0 0
1:31 - 1:40 PM 1 0 0 0 1
1:41 - 1:50 PM 2 1 0 0 1
1:51 - 2:00 PM 0 0 0 0 0

- = observation did not occur; 0 = not observed

Table 4: extension of Table 2, October 11, 2022
Total Probing Raking Sweeping TiE
9:00 - 9:10 AM 0 0 0 0 0
9:11 - 9:20 AM 0 0 0 0 0
9:21 - 9:30 AM 0 0 0 0 0
9:31 - 9:40 AM 0 0 0 0 0
9:41 - 9:50 AM 0 0 0 0 0
9:51 - 10:00 AM 0 0 0 0 0
10:01 - 10:10 AM 0 0 0 0 0
10:11 - 10:20 AM 0 0 0 0 0
10:21 - 10:30 AM 2 0 1 1 0
10:31 - 10:40 AM 2 2 0 0 0
10:41 - 10:50 AM 0 0 0 0 0
10:51 - 11:00 AM 0 0 0 0 0
11:01 - 11:10 AM 0 0 0 0 0
11:11 - 11:20 AM 0 0 0 0 0
11:21 - 11:30 AM 0 0 0 0 0
11:31 - 11:40 AM 0 0 0 0 0
11:41 - 11:50 AM 2 2 0 0 0
11:51 - 12:00 PM 0 0 0 0 0
12:01 - 12:10 PM 0 0 0 0 0
12:11 - 12:20 PM 0 0 0 0 0
12:21 - 12:30 PM 0 0 0 0 0
12:31 - 12:40 PM 0 0 0 0 0
12:40 - 12:50 PM 0 0 0 0 0
12:51 - 1:00 PM 1 1 0 0 0
1:01 - 1:10 PM 0 0 0 0 0
1:11 - 1:20 PM 0 0 0 0 0
1:21 - 1:30 PM 0 0 0 0 0
1:31 - 1:40 PM 0 0 0 0 0
1:41 - 1:50 PM 0 0 0 0 0
1:51 - 2:00 PM 0 0 0 0 0

Author’s Bio

I'm an anthropology major and am currently considering majoring in psychology and philosophy as well. I have taken Introduction to Archaeology and Introduction to Archaeological Field Work where I was able to get hands-on experience doing field research. I am also an active member of the anthropology club at City College. The only long term goals that I have consistently had for a while is finding a job in research and earning a PhD.

“Using Indigenous Relationships with Animals as a Guide for Primate Conservation” by Luis Anaya

The recent decrease in the number of animal species is due to a wide variety of causes. Anthropological methods and approaches can aid in finding solutions to rampant extinction. The cultural perspectives and cultural ideology of indigenous communities around the world can help with the conservation of primates. Finding solutions requires understanding the role primates play in these communities, such as symbols, emotional connections, and even spirituality.

The conservation of primates has always been an issue without a resolution. Anthropologists have been trying to find a solution by looking at the matter from different perspectives. Anthropology "is the study of humanity across time and space" (Hasty, Lewis, and Snipes 2022,1.1), meaning that anthropologists study everything involved in making the human experience. Anthropology includes everything that has to do with being human, and is generally divided into four subfields. However, the conservation of primates is relevant to both cultural anthropology and biological anthropology. Cultural anthropology is about understanding different cultures' thought processes, feelings, and actions (Hasty, Lewis, and Snipes 2022,1.2), which is how anthropologists try to better conservation efforts by understanding the cultures involved. Biological anthropology is the "study of the origin, evolution, and diversity of our species" (Hasty, Lewis, and Snipes 2022,1.2). This relates to primates because humans and other primates share common ancestors that can help us understand what it means to be human (Hasty, Lewis, and Snipes 2022,4.1). This knowledge is framed by understanding the methods of taking care of primates in their different areas and other cultures that affect the primates. Primates, as the closest living relatives to humans, need to be protected.

The anthropologists from the sources I compared took an ethnographic approach to collecting their data. An Ethnographic approach involves living with a community of a single culture, observing and learning about that specific culture. While spending time with the people, the anthropologists conducted interviews with those involved and had some connection to the primates. They were often pet owners, hunters, or just spent time, in one way or another, with the primates. Juan Silva and Marianna Marroquin ( 2015) talked about how the Poplucans have a huge emotional connection to primates and what they mean to them. Erin Riley (2019) learned how primates in the Kaili community are used to teach lessons and values. Lastly, Ciara Stafford and Christopher Shaffer (2016) understand different communities that hunt primates and their significance to the communities. Untimely, they all focus on how all these groups can help the conservation of primates by understanding all these indigenous communities.

In indigenous cultures, many things can be considered to have more of a special meaning than what is at the forefront. The community of people may be also precarious as "smaller populations in more isolated areas, such as rural areas, face encroachments on their lands and their lives, including their right to exist as diverse cultures" (Hasty, Lewis, and Snipes 2022,20.1). Indigenous people may view primates as animals with symbolic meaning. For some communities, the primates represent a connection to a higher supernatural force. For instance, an indigenous group in Guyana, South America, sees the primates as gifts from a supernatural force. If the primates are not accepted as they are intended, they will move away from them (Shaffer 2018, 17). This correlates to how "animals as messengers and forms of sacred communication is seen across cultures (Hasty, Lewis, and Snipes 2022,18.3). Other examples include where the primates are used as symbols in oral traditions. Indigenous communities often discuss primates in stories to teach about a culture's values and beliefs. The stories about primates make them seem closely related to humans, teaching them that monkeys should not be harmed. It symbolizes them as people or kin to regulate human behavior (Riley 2019,4). The symbolic connection indigenous communities make to the primates helps with their conservation.

Primates in indigenous communities were often seen as more than just animals. They were taken in as pets in many communities, and an emotional connection was developed. For instance, "the principal reasons for preferring squirrel monkeys and tamarins were that they were easy to domesticate, will follow their owners to and from the jungle, adjust well to living in houses and will come and sit on their owner's shoulder" (Stafford et al., 2016). Human-animal relationships in indigenous groups often lead to the pet's treated as family members (Hasty, Lewis, and Snipes 2022,18.4). Even those who did not have a pet primate still felt an emotional connection with just being able to observe the primates. Many felt it was a "privilege" to watch them in their environment (Pinto-Marroquin and Serio-Silva, 2015). These connections between humans and primates can provide some perspective showing a possible solution to help conservation.

Through many observations in the indigenous community, there have been some gereral solutions proposed to help conservation efforts. Some, such as the symbolic connections, promoted not harming primates. This helps by making "a belief that continues to guide people's behavior as they relate to monkeys, even if they are unaware of the origin of the belief" (Riley 20199,4). This is a solution for local areas but can also help in other areas. Another perspective that was offered was on the emotional connection to the primates. That local communities share an emotional connection with the primates. A connection that should be valued and their perspectives should also be acknowledged. These are ideas that several sources have often relayed.

Across cultures and across time, humans have looked toward animals as fellow participants in their lives. They actively participate in the ways we define ourselves. They feed us and accompany us. They work for us and protect us. They also serve as symbols and messengers that help us better understand our world. Our lives are intertwined in multiple ways. [Hasty, Lewis, and Snipes 2022,18.5].

Primates are important animals not just to the indigenous community but to all. Since there are few solutions to help their conservation, it is important to consider new efforts. The perspective and ideology of indigenous communities have been very helpful in finding more solutions to protect primates. Ideally, influences from local areas help to see the primates as more than just being animals. Forging connections to the primates can have an overall huge impact on being able to see more primates in the future.

Work Cited

Hasty, Jennifer, et al. “Introduction to Anthropology .” OpenStax, 23 Feb. 2022, https://openstax.org/details/books/introduction-anthropology.

Marroquin, Marianna P, and Juan C Serio-Silva. “Chapter 1 Perception and Uses of Primates among Popoluca Indigenous ...” Research Gate, 22 Mar. 2022, https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Marianna-Pinto-Marroquin-2/publication/340107114_Perception_and_Uses_of_Primates_Among_Popoluca_Indigenous_People_in_Los_Tuxtlas_Mexico/links/611f9309169a1a010312d663/Perception-and-Uses-of-Primates-Among-Popoluca-Indigenous-People-in-Los-Tuxtlas-Mexico.pdf.

Riley, Erin P. “The Importance of Human–Macaque Folklore for Conservation in Lore Lindu National Park, Sulawesi, Indonesia.” Web Archive , 2 May 2019, https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/6481608E341AB027817DBB81F3EF91D0/S0030605309990925a.pdf/div-class-title-the-importance-of-human-macaque-folklore-for-conservation-in-lore-lindu-national-park-sulawesi-indonesia-div.pdf .

Shaffer, Christopher A, et al. “Integrating Ethnography and Hunting Sustainability Modeling for Primate ...” Research Gate, 6 Nov. 2018, https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Christopher-Shaffer-2/publication/328763791_Integrating_Ethnography_and_Hunting_Sustainability_Modeling_for_Primate_Conservation_in_an_Indigenous_Reserve_in_Guyana/links/5be1ded44585150b2ba300fb/Integrating-Ethnography-and-Hunting-Sustainability-Modeling-for-Primate-Conservation-in-an-Indigenous-Reserve-in-Guyana.pdf?_sg%5B0%5D=started_experiment_milestone&_sg%5B1%5D=started_experiment_milestone&origin=journalDetail.

Stafford, Ciara A, et al. “Know Your Monkey: Identifying Primate Conservation Challenges in an Indigenous Kichwa Community Using an Ethnoprimatological Approach .” Karger Courses, 20 Apr. 2016, https://www.karger.com/Article/Pdf/444414.

Author’s Bio

Luis Anaya is a hard-working individual who has been working in the restaurant industry for five years, from bussing and waiting on tables since age 15. Luis is currently a full-time San Diego City College student in his second year. In the future, he hopes to transfer to a four-year college and get his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. Luis sees a bright future pursuing a long career in mechanical engineering.

“Ethnographic Study of Pop Culture” by Beverly Escoto

In October 2022, the Comic-Con Museum held a four-day event surrounding the pop culture and comic book convention of its namesake, the San Diego Comic Convention. The Comic-Con Museum is the newest attraction in Balboa Park. It opened in November of 2021, and has since expanded to exhibit popular films, video games, props, collectibles, events featuring comics, and popular art from the broad Comic-Con universe.

Four days of panels, movies, and other events make up my observation of museum culture. According to Ishita Bhambri (2017), "field work" involves spending time in the natural environment of the group or person being studied so that their habits can be written down. I spent my time walking through the 7,500-square-foot living structure of comic books, observing the surroundings and participants while we all learned a lot about our favorite superheroes, their enemies, movies, and behind the scenes of how films and sculptures are made. Annie E. Combes (1996) says that ethnographers should focus on museums to get credible information about their research topic. "The earliest form of ethnographic research, naturalism, is an approach in which the researcher watches the variables of the study in their natural surroundings in order to detect and document behavioural patterns. It may entail spending time in the native habitat of the group or persons being studied in order to document their behaviours" (Coombes 1996). Coombes focused on the Benin Culture in the British Museum, using ethnography to explore popular culture and institutional power. The Comic-Con Museum provides an excellent place to study people’s receptive behavior. Ethnography is a method of viewing and comprehending the world from the viewpoint of its inhabitants, to better understand how people think, feel, and act in various circumstances and cultures. It is a technique for viewing the world from the perspective of others. By observing the daily routines of the people who create and consume pop culture, ethnography allows us to better understand their behaviors. It is a means of comprehending how those who experience pop culture shape it and are shaped by it.

On Friday, October 28, 2022, I took the opportunity to learn how these museum goers behaved. As a hypothesis, I predicted that when it comes to famous movies, video games, and characters, people wouldn't be on their phones in the museum often. If they're not interested, they'll switch on their device. One of the most well-attended panels at Comic-Con focused on the comic book series Spider-Man. The panel discussed the upcoming season of the show, which will premiere in the fall of 2022. The audience in the hall was keen to watch the editing process of the costumes and the films of the Spiderman movies, while everyone lauded and cheered, looking at the dais. I glanced around the room to observe people’s behaviors at the moment. Most enjoyed themselves through witnessing what they usually see on their televisions in real life. Interestingly enough, I did not see anyone on their phones doing the usual chatting, scrolling, or other activities: only taking videos and photos of the session. Indeed, the audience was not bored.

The children were restless throughout the panel discussion. Some parents took their kids to arcades or makerspaces where they could use their imaginations. The information on the panels about how movies and sculptures are made didn't interest the kids as much. Many children desired to explore; they were intrigued by the superhero sculptures, replicating their positions and actions. Most of the Asian fans in the museum were very excited to play the free Pac-Man arcade games. I observed that many visitors here were from Los Angeles, Asian Pac-Man enthusiasts, and twenty percent of attendees were dressed as their favorite superhero. Since the majority of the exhibits were based on Spider-Man books, souvenirs, movie props, and sculptures, it was hardly surprising that many visitors dressed as the webslinger himself. Because of Spider-Man, a lot of kids came to see the display. Children, adults, and parents all looked excited when they saw the sculptures, movie thrillers, and behind-the-scenes photos on the big screen at the museum's entrance. One example is when five people from the same family came together. They spoke with a strong, possibly Russian accent. The ages of the children ranged from five to three. They seemed to be taller, but they were quite dependent on their mother. The sculptures frightened them. One father enjoyed himself as if his family wasn't there as he looked at Spider-Man collectibles and walked through the museum. On the other hand, his wife was busy calming and photographing the children while they cried. She seemed to find it amusing. In the Pac-Man arcade section, a small Hispanic boy cried. His mother told him he couldn't play at the arcade any longer. His father attempted to console his son by offering him an iPad and snacks. It worked for a short while, but he refused to comply. The child's temper tantrums were too much for the parents to handle, so they left the building early. On my last trip, as I was leaving the museum, there were three young boys, about 8 or 9 years old, dressed in full-body Marvel superhero costumes. I saw their faces light up with excitement as they explored and analyzed the galleries. It came as a bit of a surprise to me when they all pulled out their phones. They took pictures of themselves in front of the sculptures. I stayed longer so I could watch them and the parent who was with them more closely. I assumed they weren't related, because one of the guys had dark hair and a dark complexion while the other two were blonde. The process of developing a communicative relationship with a media character through its material begins with the gaze (Silvio 2008).These kids went to the museum to take pictures. One of them performed a TikTok dance near the Marvel statues. One boy looked at the sculptures while the other read the brochure and the descriptions of the sculptures.

My overall impression of these events was positive, as people in the museum were generally pleased to see their favorite characters. I did not see people settling much on their phones aside from taking pictures of their favorite events and superheroes. Although I was surprised to learn that kids so young already have phones and social media accounts; from my observations, I noticed that parents used devices to soothe and distract kids from throwing tantrums. I also learned that people were indeed receptive to the event based on their behaviors: whenever a new thriller movie or video game was played on the big screen, there was no use of phones, which normally indicates that people are focusing on the screen and not paying attention to what is happening around them. Rather, their actions communicated that they felt as though they were participants in the event by reading through the descriptions, cheering, playing, and focusing on the unfamiliar process of making movies and comics.

Comic-Con is the live space where people of different backgrounds, ages, and ethnicities experience popular culture and express their happiness. Popular culture affects how people feel about certain things, which has both socializing and isolating effects on the lives of young people and their ability to make decisions. One benefit of sharing common tastes is the increased likelihood of meaningful relationships between individuals. These included participants dressing up as their preferred movie, television, or comic book characters. It also gives young people a safe place to talk about their thoughts and feelings with others their own age. Youth can broaden their horizons and develop their individuality through exposure to popular culture. Comic-Con is the perfect live space where people with different backgrounds, ages, and ethnicities experience such culture and express their happiness.

Work Cited

Bhambri, Ishita. "Ethnography: Methods, Types, Importance, Limitations, Examples." Sociology Group: Sociology and Other Social Sciences Blog, 24 Dec. 2017. www.sociologygroup.com/ethnography-meaning

Coombes, Annie E. “Ethnography, Popular Culture, and Institutional Power: Narratives of Benin Culture in the British Museum, 1897–1992.” Studies in the History of Art 47 (1996): 142–2. http://www.jstor.org/stable/42622122.

Silvio, T. (2008). "Pop culture icons: Religious inflections of the character toy in Taiwan". Mechademia, 3(1), 200-220. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41510911

Author’s Bio

Beverly Escoto is a Quality Assurance Specialist with six years of experience working with the executive team of Medical Diagnostic Company in Carlsbad. Beverly is responsible for overseeing the documentation and ensuring that the final product meets the company's standards. Beverly is also responsible for developing and implementing strategies to improve the company's operations. Beverly is a powerful force in the office and uses her energy and positive attitude to encourage others to work hard. Her professional goal is to earn her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Her daily motivation is her husband and three kids. Beverly and her family enjoy hiking, camping and fishing. In her free time, she is fond of baking and reading.

“Modern Love: The Upsides and Downsides of Dating Apps” by Tamires Beadling

Over the past 20 years, the internet has grown exponentially, and it’s become a huge part of our everyday lives. Social media is now a significant share of the internet, and as the name suggests, it's how we socialize and stay connected with our friends and family. We’re able to connect to people that are on the other side of the world through video calls and texting applications. The internet is also our place of entertainment where we’re able to watch movies, TV shows, and listen to music, podcasts, audio books, etc. It’s a growing part of our work culture as more people are working from home, using video calls for meetings, and rarely going into their office. It’s how we get our information through news, research, and magazine articles. Our money is managed with online banking, and we even have digital money, also known as "cryptocurrency," like Bitcoin. With all of this, it’s no surprise that the internet and social media have become a significant part of our romantic life as well.

Dating websites became part of our reality back in 1995 when "Match.com" was created (Bartsch, 2020). For the first time, people had a new way to date. They were able to create a profile with their pictures, write down a brief description of themselves and their personality, and share their interests and what they’re looking for in a romantic partner. With this website, people were able to connect and meet potential partners through matching interests and lifestyles. While the popularity of using a website for dating grew steadily over time, it wasn’t until almost 20 years later, in 2012, that things really took off when a smartphone application revolutionized the online dating scene.

Tinder, a new dating app, would show you people who were geographically near you for potential matching (Bartsch, 2020). In this dating app, you would simply create a profile with pictures, write down a short bio, and then all the potential nearby love interests would be “just a swipe away." Tinder was faster and maybe more efficient than other dating websites as you would be able to see dozens of people very quickly. To browse potential matches, you swipe right if you’re interested in someone, and left if you don’t want to meet them. If the person you swiped right on also swipes right on you, then it’s a match. You are then sent on to another part of the app where you can chat with your match. After Tinder’s success (there are currently 10.7 million subscribers who make up to 1.6 billion swipes per day (Iqbal, 2022)), several other dating apps have been created. Some of the favorites amongst users in the heterosexual community are Bumble, Hinge, OkCupid and Plenty of Fish (Fleenor, 2021).

Today in 2022, dating apps are now “the way to meet” your person. According to a Statista Market Forecast study, 196 million people use online dating apps all around the world (“Online Dating,” 2020, as cited in Bartsch, 2020). It’s not rare at all to hear from a couple that that’s how their love story started. A few of my friends met their spouse on a dating app, my bosses met each other on a dating app, and I have even had a few relationships that started on a dating app. I’ve been on and off the apps for almost 9 years now, and most of my dating experiences have been there. I have had some successful outcomes and others not so great, but it seems like it doesn’t matter how bad the experience is, something always makes me want to go back on the apps to try and find true love.

The dating app world has always intrigued me, so I wanted to understand a bit more about it and hear of other people’s experience. I was curious to see what themes were brought up as well as how other people’s experiences related to mine. For this article, I used autoethnography and interviewed women in my own social network as well as other dating apps users. I randomly selected women from a Facebook group I'm part of. I will highlight the interviews of 3 women in this paper, including information on what keeps them using dating apps, and what exactly their goal is when being on them.

Tia is a 25 year old woman. I have known her for what seems to be my whole life. She’s smart, funny, absolutely beautiful, and yet she claims that she’s more confident when talking to someone online. She told me, “I can pose for pictures, I can edit them however I like, and I can think thoroughly about every message I want to send. While when I’m staring at someone face-to-face I can’t manipulate the way they see me.” Tia has had two long term relationships that started on Bumble, and although she believes it is very possible to find love on the internet, it still seems she finds herself struggling to actually go out on a date with someone. I was very shocked when she mentioned that she has had 900 matches in one day, and no dates came out of those matches. But then thinking a bit more about her response, I realized I have done that myself. Many times I have blindly swiped just waiting for a match to happen. When it did, I would cheerfully say “It’s a match!”, but then go on about my day and never really talk to the person. Kathrin Bartsch cited a study that revealed that “one-third of American online daters never went on a date with somebody they ‘matched’ on a dating portal. Subsequently, if users do not want to meet their potential future partners face-to-face, the motivation basis for using online dating applications must be driven by different motives except the social motivation to find love” (Bartsch 2020). When I questioned Tia about what her true intentions on the apps were, she bluntly told me: “I'm looking for male validation, and whatever comes with it. Whether that’s just likes, sex, or a relationship.”

Julie is Tia’s older sister. They’re 4 years apart from one another, and we all have been friends forever. I was very much looking forward to interviewing her because she has the craziest stories about her dating app experiences, so much so that she has a whole Instagram account dedicated to telling people her horror dating stories. Julie has always struggled with dating and meeting people out in the “real world.” She feels as though men will give her a better chance when chatting online, and she believes that that doesn’t happen in person. Like Tia, Julie carefully chooses her pictures, she makes sure to show her sense of humor off, and she will also invest in good pickup lines trying to impress the opposite sex. Even though she has had some awful and heartbreaking experiences on the apps, she still keeps going back. “I'm just hopeful, I know I will eventually find someone,” Julie said with teary eyes. Because of her dating history, Julie feels lonely and sad a lot of the time. She confided in me that “Bumble has become an escape” for her. Whenever a date goes badly, she goes on Bumble. Whenever she’s feeling bad about herself and her love life, she goes on Bumble. Whenever she needs the attention, and validation, she goes on Bumble. I can relate to this. I used to play a game: whenever I’d see a very attractive guy on the app I would bet with myself that we were going to match. When the match would happen I would instantly feel good about myself; I would feel confident and beautiful. There was an instant ego-boost.

Maggie is one of the women who responded to my Facebook group post. She showed interest in my paper, and she wanted to be a part of it. Differently from Tia and Julie, Maggie is not looking for love. She wants the affection, the conversations, the connection, the sex, but she doesn’t expect exclusivity, nor does she expect forever. When I asked her why she goes on Tinder specifically to find this kind of relationship, she told me that “the applications are a shortcut, a faster way to meet people, and it’s also a place for you to hide yourself. People will see whatever you want them to see.” Because of Tia and Julie’s responses on their interview, I couldn’t help but ask Maggie if she would also use the apps for validation, to which she promptly answered: “Absolutely! Everybody does. That’s why people are there.” Maggie believes the feeling you get after a like, a match, or a conversation gives you a sense of belonging and approval. “There’s a level of validation you get whenever you get a match. It feels good! It helps me feel good about myself,” she explained.

Dating apps are becoming more and more popular and influential in people’s dating and personal lives, and although they can be good for meeting and establishing relationships, it is clear that a downside is emerging too. I noticed in the interviews with Tia, Julie, and Maggie, that many people find themselves being drawn to dating apps even when they’re not necessarily looking for a relationship. There is something else that each of these women touched on: validation, feeling accepted, and getting an ego-boost. These instantaneous, positive feelings can lead to a vicious cycle that begins to look a lot like addiction.

Researchers suggest that between five to 10 percent of Americans could meet the criteria for being at risk for social media addiction (Ricci, 2018). Addiction can occur when a neurotransmitter called dopamine is triggered in our brain. Dopamine is part of our brain’s reward system and it causes pleasure feelings whenever triggered. When we use social media, we may get caught in a “dopamine loop.” Whenever we get a like, a comment, or an emoji reaction, our brain gets flooded with the neurotransmitter, and that reinforces the fact that we need to get that feeling again and again (Lee Health, 2023). Similar to social media, dating apps can be a source of instant gratification. When we get a match our phone screen will light up, a big “it's a match” sign will show up, and depending on the app, you may get stars flying around your screen. With this, dating apps can also get us stuck in the same "dopamine loop" as social media does. The more matches, likes, and chats you get, the more you want them. All of my interviewees found themselves going back on the apps, even though they weren't exactly getting what they needed. Or were they?

Bartsch defined "ego-boost" as a self-worth validation, and she suggested "users conduct online dating to feel better about themselves" (2020). About 20% of Bartsch's research participants said their motives for using a dating application is to get that "ego-boost." When I asked my friends if maybe that was also their motive for using the apps, most of them answered that yes, it was, while others would answer with a "now thinking more about it, I can see how I've used Tinder to better my self-esteem." Our self-esteem impacts our overall mental health, our mental health impacts our relationships, so it's easy to understand why people are resorting to dating apps to feel validated. It's a big cycle of getting a like or a match, having your brain be flooded with dopamine, feeling good about yourself (aka getting that ego-boost), and maybe getting a chance at whatever it is you are looking for within the apps. If things work out, great. If things don't work out, you may feel down and hopeless just like Julie does. But also like her, you can get right back on the apps and easily start the cycle all over again (Rochat et al., 2019).

When I started my interviews, I would be the first one to say I believed people can be addicted to dating apps, but now I understand that people aren't addicted to the apps, per se. They are addicted to the feeling the apps can bring them. Tia, Julie, and Maggie are 3 totally different people, with different goals, and dating experiences. But still, all 3 of them have something very similar: dating apps have been a source of instant gratification to them, consequently making them go back to them over and over again.

The internet has transformed our modern life in so many ways, and romance is no exception. Dating apps have proven to be effective in the search for love, or even a casual fling. The apps revolunatized the dating experience in our culture, however it also led to unintended outcomes. After all, it's up to each person how they decide to use the app. I'm curious to see what the dating scene of society will look like in the coming decades, where so much ego and instant gratification is present when trying to make a meaningful connection.


Bartsch, K. (2020). The influence of non-social motivations for using online dating applications on mental well-being, mediated by self-esteem. [Bachelor's thesis, University of Twente].

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Author’s Bio

My name is Tamires Beadling. I'm 29 years old and I'm from Brazil. I've been living in the US for the past 8 years, and going back to school has been a dream of mine. This past semester was my first semester back in school, after 10 years of not being inside a classroom. I'm a psychology major. I want to study trauma and what it does to the brain. I hope to be a trauma therapist for children one day, as I've been in the childcare provider field for almost 14 years now.

“Comparison of Traditional Ethnomedical Traditions between Various Communities in the United States” by Iris Thompson


The purpose of this study is to comparatively analyze the ethnomedicinal practices between various unique cultural communities in the United States. Data were collected from various studies that used methods such as participant interviews, archaeological surveys, recorded oral narratives, and free-lists. Ethnomedical perspectives were gathered from representatives of a contemporary migrant Mexican community in Atlanta, Georgia, African American women living on a plantation in Louisiana from 1840-1949, and Delfina Cuero, a Kumeyaay woman who lived throughout San Diego, in the 1900s. Such findings and comparisons enable better interactions between more marginalized communities and local healthcare systems. By understanding how people understand health and relate to medicine, relationships between health care providers and patients can adapt and reach more people as they feel more comfortable and understood. From these collected observations, it is notable that women predominantly act as caregivers regardless of cultural background and are thus more likely to carry knowledge of traditional medicines and their applications in their households. It is also interesting to see a common attempt at blending traditional and “modern” western medicine, with a bias towards traditional as it is more trustworthy, as well as use of similar plants across the country.


Ethnomedicine, which can also be referred to as traditional medicine, is a study of medicine practiced by various ethnic groups, especially those with little access to western medicines, such as indigenous peoples of North America. The field of ethnomedical research itself spans different areas of study, including ethnobotany and medical anthropology. Often, this form of cultural tradition is passed on orally from person to person and is thus vulnerable to being lost or unstudied. Research in ethnomedicine is important to modern medicine as it aids in finding starting points for drug discovery as well as understanding cultural perceptions and the context of traditional medicine through anthropological studies.

Furthermore, the study of ethnomedicine involves the understanding of a particular concept known as Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). This phrase refers to Indigenous knowledge that has evolved over hundreds or thousands of years through interactions with a local environment. Because of this, TEK is specific to a region, its plants, animals, fungi, landscapes, timing, etc., and informs its users of beneficial resources worth continuing. As landscapes change, or as communities of people move, do people adapt their use of TEK, and if they do, how?

Comparing the medicinal application and knowledge of women from various backgrounds throughout this study, it is clear that these communities are changing the way they approach medicine, while holding on to their traditional ethnomedicinal values. Women are merging what they know to work, as was told to them from past generations, with what is accessible in their new locations (different local botanicals, new social-economic limitations, even changes in branding of products). Often, migrant communities will come to use similar or the same plants as each other, which even match those used by the indigenous peoples living in the country.


In the effort to explore ethnopharmacological knowledge of migrant Mexicans in the southern United States, Anna Walstein (2006) interviewed women in Athens, Georgia, USA . Her goal was to understand the pharmacology of the medicines consumed by this particular community and if they were able to accurately judge many of the biological effects of both medicinal plants and pharmaceuticals. Ethnopharmacology’s main weakness continues to be poor integration of ethnography and pharmacology which limits knowledge of indigenous medicines beyond typical uses, preparation methods and administration techniques (Waldstein 2006, 300). Data were collected using free-list, pile-sort and semi-structured interviews. Waldstein compiled a list of 42 plants used for medicine as well as a list of non-herbal medicines. The women who were interviewed discussed when and how they used each medicine, and whether or not they knew how it worked they were generally in agreement with pharmacological suggestions found in common literature. These women of the “Los Duplex” in Atlanta brought limited physical medicinal resources with them from their original homes (mainly central Mexico). However, some plants like chamomile, yerba buena, and basil can be grown in their current yards. Some plants they only buy packaged at Mexican markets. They have their own understanding of why some practices work, often citing humoral (hot/cold) qualities, and are more inclined to use plants than pills because they find that they are more natural and therefore safe (less related to illegal and dangerous ‘drogas’) (Waldstein 2006).

In a second study, which looked at an archaeological study of African American women from antebellum to modern era plantation life, consumer choices were ascertained from recovered articles and transcribed personal narratives (Wilkie 1996, 119). Looking at the trends in discovered items over the years, such as commercially produced medicines in marked glass containers, Wilkie was able to determine the behaviors of women who were the primary health care givers among their own families. With the entry into the twentieth century, women were overwhelmingly determined to be purchasing medicines rather than foraging and brewing their own remedies at home. Using ex-slave narratives to understand the traditional medicine practices and theories which originated in West African countries, comparisons were made with the purchased medicines and contextualized. Purchasing of these goods were contextualized within traditional medicine in order to understand their choices as new consumers within a distinct cultural niche of southern plantation life. Specifically, data were gathered from African American households at Oakley Plantation in West Feliciana, Louisiana including information from written records, written and oral narratives, as well as physical items that were sorted by assemblages. The change in ethnomedical traditions reflected a change in lifestyle demands. With less time allotted for making home remedies women chose to buy produced medicines. However, their similarities to the properties of traditional medicines illustrate that they continued to use medicine with the same traditional ethnomedical understanding of sickness and treatment.

Part of what the women demonstrate here in their collective knowledge of plants as medicines is a concept of traditional ecological knowledge. Many cultures have taken their observations of the natural world and have created complex, effective ethnomedical systems that integrate resources of all kinds (Hasty 2022, 17.2). Many modern cultures, even as big as China, rely on both biomedicine to treat specific health problems and traditional Chinese medicines (Hasty 2022, 17.2). When Waldstein conducted these interviews, the women often remarked on a plant’s ability to heal being due to their humoral qualities, calling them hot or cold. While this harkens to a more TEK mindset, their additional comments indicating specific tissues and organs in the body reveal an integration of biomedicine. “Like manzanilla, most women believe that té de yerbabuena is healing due to its humoral quality. Most women described yerbabuena as frescal… but two classified it as a hot medicine. Research participants explained that yerbabuena works with the intestines to help the digestion process. The only reported side effect of yerbabuena was excessive belching” (Waldstein 2006, 306). In some ways similar to urban Chinese, this migrant community utilizes both traditional and “modern” medicine. Like China’s traditional medicine system, we see a community that relies on biomedicine for cough, infections, diabetes, pains, high blood pressure, among others, but will “keep themselves in balance” using herbal remedies as there is an overall wariness of the addictive nature of pills.

African Americans on Oakley Plantation, while particularly inclined to adhere to an African ethnomedical system, were able to integrate European-American medications as well as find substitute plants for those they used in their original home countries. Drugs that were eventually bought by African American women, such as “Dr. Tichenor’s Antiseptic,” Moroline” and “Vaseline” were functional compromises for African American remedies. For example, peppermint extract and alcohol are the predominant ingredients of “Dr. Tichenor’s Antiseptic” and mint, whether brewed as a tea or soaked in a bath were recognised culturally as cures for fevers, diarrhea, and fevers (Wilkie 1996, 125). This similarity of product and application between ethnomedical systems gives credit to the traditional ecological knowledge of African Americans.

Both of these studies, despite looking at two different cultures that have moved from central Mexico or West Africa, show a similar attempt of adapting TEK with new local plants and products. Delfina Cuero, whose autobiographical account has been important in preserving the ethnomedical practices of the Kumeyaay people of California and Baja California, illustrates the extensive TEK of her people. Her ability to point out plants in the wild, name them, and describe their medicinal uses far exceeds the abilities of the women in the other studies. This knowledge of the environment requires hundreds of years of development, and consistent reteaching. Communities who move from other countries, who have formed traditions based on similarly nurtured observations as the Kumeyaay, use plants in a similar way to how Delfina Cuero described using the plants found in the south-west United States, but still need to make up for the fact that they are in a brand new environment. Eventually, neither group of transplanted women foraged for medicinal plants, they either raised one or two plants at home or bought products in the store. Both show wariness of products, such as pills, because they do not align with their ethnomedical values. Cuero, with a similar wariness for modern medicine continued to treat her children using only plants despite more frequent interaction with non-indigenous cultures. “When my children were older, if they got sick, I used herbs. That is all I used and my children got well again. There are herbs for stomach pains, colds, tooth aches, and everything that the Indians knew” (Cuero 1991, 61). Cuero eventually died in a hospital, unable to communicate in her language, unaware of how she was being treated, and ultimately extremely unnerved. Cuero did not change to accept modern medicine, and was often put in a situation where change was forced upon her.

Through Cuero it also becomes clear that TEK can be disrupted by the migration of other peoples. In her case, she relates the toll of the European impacts on the transmission of knowledge within her own generation. She tells of how practical medical knowledge relating to sex and motherhood was erased from a generation of women when European influence restricted what they considered to be religious ceremonies, but what were crucial parts of the Kumeyaay educational, moral, and ethical systems. “We were taught about food and herbs and how to make things by our mothers and grandmothers all the time. But only at the ceremony for girls was the proper time to teach the special things women had to know. Nobody just talked about those things, it was all in the songs” (Cuero 1991, 43). In fact, migration in this case interrupted the clearly vulnerable passage of ethnomedical knowledge causing a generation of women to lose their first babies, among other disasters.

Looking at these case studies and comparing the interactions various cultures here in the United States have with medicine, both traditional and modern, is important to better enable interactions between marginalized communities and local healthcare systems. By understanding how people understand health and relate to medicine, relationships between health care providers and patients can adapt and reach more people as they feel more comfortable and understood. Research on botanicals selected by ethnomedical systems can also promote the creation of new pharmaceuticals that will help an even wider array of people. From these collected observations, it is notable that women predominantly act as caregivers regardless of cultural background and are thus more likely to carry knowledge of traditional medicines and their applications in their households. It is also interesting to see a common attempt at blending traditional and “modern” western medicine, with a bias towards traditional as it is more trustworthy.


Hasty, J., Lewis, D. G., Snipes, M. M.. Introduction to Anthropology. XanEdu Publishing, 2022. OpenStax, openstax.org/details/books/introduction-anthropology.

Shipek, Florence Connolly. "Delfina Cuero: Her Autobiography." Native American Voices (2016): 268.

Waldstein, Anna. "Mexican migrant ethnopharmacology: pharmacopoeia, classification of medicines and explanations of efficacy." Journal of ethnopharmacology 108.2 (2006): 299-310.

Wilkie, Laurie A. "Medicinal teas and patent medicines: African-American women's consumer choices and ethnomedical traditions at a Louisiana plantation." Southeastern Archaeology (1996): 119-131.

Author Biography

Iris Thompson is an educator who has worked in schools, museums, and zoos across San Diego. She currently also works for the San Diego Public Library. For her it is important that people are able to fairly receive the resources that they need. She is taking classes in order to apply for a Masters in Occupational Therapy program.