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Anthropologists - Overview

Anthropologists use scientific research methods to study elements of human cultures and societies.

Anthropologists are scientists who study people. They study the customs, values, and social patterns of different cultures and how they change over time.

They may study artifacts such as tools, pottery, and baskets from ancient cultures. They also study issues of existing cultures such as overpopulation.

Anthropologists use several different research methods. Some perform interviews with people individually or with a group of people. They may live in a society in order to observe and collect information. This is called participant observation.

Anthropologists may do their studies in an office setting or they may be out in the field doing hands-on research. Anthropologists write books or reports about their findings. They may also give talks about their findings to other researchers.

Anthropologists often have field assistants to help gather data. They may train assistants in field research and data gathering.

There are several types of anthropologists:

Physical anthropologists

Physical anthropologists look at the makeup of the human body. They look at physical differences between people in different cultures. They study how culture and biology influence one another. They may study skeletal remains and human fossils from ancient cultures to understand population demographics.

Cultural anthropologists

Cultural anthropologists study how people create societies, customs, and cultures. This may be in small villages or large urban areas. They often live in the society in order to gather data.

Linguistic anthropologists

Linguistic anthropologists study how humans communicate. They study languages as well as non-verbal communications to find out what social and cultural factors influence language.

Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.