Archive for category Social Norm Violation
So there is a social norm in movie theaters. If it is not a sold out movie theater where there is plenty of available seating you NEVER sit next to a stranger. There is a social norm to sit at least one seat away from the stranger next to you. I broke this social norm on accident last weekend. My husband and I went to a movie and were excited to see it not full and a good seat was available next to some teenagers in the middle. I sat down a seat away and things started feeling uncomfortable when the other girls started looking and talking about me. Then, a boy came and took his seat again right next to me! He had just stepped out for a moment. I felt SO uncomfortable as I sat right next to a complete stranger. I felt uncomfortable because there were so many other open seats. This guy probably thought I was a weirdo. I told my husband about the situation and how I would be paranoid the entire movie if I stayed braking this social norm. Finally we ended up pretending to get popcorn and moving to another seat. This seams like a small social norm to break, but I am a shy person so that was enough to make me feel the social repercussions from violating that norm.
Most people have a bubble or a personal space that they do not like violated. I would definately include myself in this category. I was really hoping to make a video of my encounters, but like a typical college student my roomates and I never could find the time to get together and do it, so I did it on my own with out a camera.
Typically when you meet a person you shake hands. Jerry Seinfeld explains this social norm perfectly so take a look at the video.
So with these handshake norms, I put some to the test to see how I felt and how the others reacted. I experimented with people who I already knew and random people that I met for the first time. Typically I would introduce myself and offer to shake their hands, or just say hi and stick my hand out. I would try my best not to let them go until our conversation was done. At first it was hard trying to act completely confortable and come up with things to ask them while trying to note my behavior as well as their behavior, but it got a little easier after doing it a few times.
If there were other people around, most would look around them to see if anyone else though it a little strange that I had not let go of their hand. This is a perfect example of some of the things we have talked about in class. Oftem times people will look to those around them for information (conformity, social learning, helping and perceived emergency, etc.) It was very hard for them to focus on the conversation I was trying to have with them, and in some cases some people forcefully pulled away.
It was kind of fun to violate a social norm, but I can imagine that it wouldnt be as fun if I was the one receiving the experiment.
Social Norm Violation by Tatiana Herman
I go to the gym about two to five times a week and have been doing so for the last two years. It’s an unwritten rule that you exercise only in attire made specifically for exercise. This includes sneakers, sweatpants, basketball shorts, yoga pants, baggy shirts, tank tops, and sports bras.
I decided to violate this norm by wearing my sunday clothes to the gym. I wore a nice blouse, a skirt, and yes- heels. I also had my hair curled and unrestrained. I proceeded to walk and then jog (lightly for safety reasons) on the treadmill. After a few minutes of that, I walked over to the machines and used the ones that I could manage while remaining modestly covered by my skirt. I finally left fifteen minutes later as I couldn’t take the embarrassment any longer (and I was worried about injuring myself due to restricted range of motion).
As I went through this ordeal, I was hard-pressed to make eye contact with anyone. I couldn’t bring myself to look at anyone directly at first and just relied on my peripheral vision. Some people were either so absorbed in what they were doing or trying to be polite that they didn’t stare at me. However, there were also plenty of strange looks that came my way from other people. In fact, for a moment as I was stepping off the treadmill, one of the trainers looked like he was about to come over and say something but then changed his mind when I got off. I eventually looked at someone and they just gave me a bewildered look and looked around to see if anyone else was seeing the same thing.
I normally pride myself on not embarrassing easily and on not engaging in behavior that would elicit that emotion in the first place. However, this experience made me realize that as open-minded as I try to be, I have certain norms imbedded firmly in myself. By the time I left I was really glad I’d chosen a location that I don’t visit normally. While I am grateful for this eye-opening experience, I don’t plan on ever doing anything like that again.
My social norm violation was actually something I did on accident. I had just gotten done with a photoshoot and I needed to pick something up from the store…so instead of going home and showering, I went with the same hair and make-up I had on for the shoot.
No joke, it looked something like this…. except with WAY more lipstick and HUGE fake eyelashes. Yikes.
So I stroll into the store not really thinking anything of it, until I get stared at. A whole lot. Then I realized that people probably legitimately thought I did my hair and makeup like that since my outfit was completely normal. My favorite kinds of stares are the ones you get from two people mid-conversation who stop what they’re saying just to look at you, but try to do it in a very discreet manner. This one guy did a quadruple-take. Man, did that make me feel good!
Breaking this norm violation at Smith’s in Provo was an awesome experience. It made me realize that we can be caught off guard by someone who doesn’t look a certain way SO easily. Something as small as hair and make-up caused a scene! I am so aware of how I look at others, now. Allow others to embrace their individuality.
Not going to lie, it was pretty entertaining to see the reactions, though. I’m so glad I accidentally stepped into this situation.
When searching for an idea of things that could be done to break a social norm my thoughts went to something that is the “least risky”. I had heard stories of things people had done and although many were funny. I didn’t have the desire to ruffle as many feathers as they did. So when seeking a normal situation I came across the wilk and the terrace where everyone eats lunch and decided this would be a great spot to do it. Seeing that most people sit in groups of friends I thought it would be breaking a social norm to go sit at a table with a few people on it and talk to myself out loud so they could hear.
After sitting down at the table after each bite of food I would give a recap of the bite. Things like “wow, the cucumber really showed in that bite” and many other sayings revolved around my food and how it tasted. The looks I received were not very kind as many looked and pretty much scowled at me. I was clearly breaking a social norm of keeping to myself in a group I didnt know anyone in and it was not going over well. I did this for my meal and the people left at about the same time I was finishing my meal. They didn’t say anything to me directly but the awkwardness they felt was obvious in their expressions and how they would talk to each other after I got there compared with before I got there.
It felt very weird to break a social norm. I would say the weird feelings were more in general as to what was happening rather than the specific act that I was doing. I didn’t really enjoy my time breaking the norm but it did help me realize that it is not that big of a deal to do something different. I did something I would never do by choice and if I saw someone doing I would think was very weird and no one even said a word to me. They did harmless rude things like glances and such but nothing that actually mattered. Overall it was a good experience, planning it made me nervous and anxious to see how it would play out but now that its done I realized it was no big deal. While I don’t plan on being a regular social norm breaker I now realize if I need to do it occasionally its no bigs.
Sidewalks are fairly useful things. They lay out a path for which we can walk safely. Sometimes, we choose not to use the path laid out for us, but when we do, a strange thing happens. There is a universal and unspoken agreement that you stay on your side of the sidewalk, and I’ll stay on mine. And, whether you have noticed it or not, people tend to walk on the right side of the sidewalk. When someone breaks that agreement, confusion ensues.
For two weeks I walked on the left side of the sidewalk and tried to see how people reacted. Most of the time I had someone else with me to observe the passerby’s reaction, and the responses I got were interesting. Most of the people would be walking towards me, look confused, and then just move for me. Some people would walk past, then look back with a baffled look on their faces as if to say “how dare she do that”. Once my roommate even gave me a weird look and asked me why I was being so weird. And then there were the few people who I had to have a battle of the wills with (I only lost twice).
At the end of the two weeks, I concluded that people get terribly confused and sometimes even angry if you walk on the wrong side of the sidewalk. There is definitely a mindset of “my side, your side” with a line in the middle that you shouldn’t try to cross.
One of the interesting norms of our society is how people should dress in given situations. Factors such as modesty, weather, flamboyancy, gender, and many others, all contribute towards what is ‘appropriate’ attire. So, for my social norm violation, I decided to disobey the rules of dress.
When me and my friends went out for dinner, I donned a Greek toga instead of ‘normal clothes’. I wore an over the shoulder greek toga with gladiator sandals. I also had a leaf crown, though I did not wear it the entire time (it was uncomfortable). This outfit was slightly immodest, too breezy for how cold it was, and incredibly flamboyant/out of place in the restaurant. In other words, it was a clear violation of the norms of dress.
A lot of people stared. Okay, everyone stared. Everyone who saw me shot me a questioning glance. This sometimes was followed by a chuckle, sometimes a high-five or congratulations on my clothing, or a look of disgust. Some people seemed so perplexed that they just couldn’t stop staring, with no visible reaction at all. Most of all, I was surprised by the amount of complements I got. Many people said they liked my outfit. It was not exactly the ‘violation’ I expected–I expected it to be a little more controversial.
Despite the majority of positive feedback I received, I still felt a bit uncomfortable. I have never been a big fan of many eyes on me at once. So I felt a bit hot and out of sorts throughout the evening. Every so often I would let out a nervous laugh when given a compliment. However, I eventually enjoyed it. I may not be an attention seeker, but I definitely enjoy going against the norm. It was hard to think up what to do for this project because I so often go out of my way to be ‘different’ (in a good way, I hope). I am a low social monitor, so I probably violate norms quite often. But this was such a big, intentional, and odd display, that it helped me feel that discomfort I used to feel when I was younger. When violating norms meant more to me. It got me thinking that we all have our comfort zones, and unless we push past them, violating a norm won’t bother you much. But this did push past my comfort zone, and I could not help but feel a little embarrassed.
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