Breaking Social Norms
In our society we have a number of norms that we abide by. For example, there is an unwritten rule of how one should behave in an elevator. It is “proper” to face front, stand away from strangers, and not to look at others. When a social norm is broken people may respond with alarm, humour, fear, irritation, or an array of other emotions. When you think of a norm, you are probably thinking about simply being normal. But in psychology terms, norm means a standard or representative value for a group. A social norm is some sort of an expectation that our society has that is deemed normal by that society; they tell us which behaviors, thoughts, or feelings are appropriate within a given group within a given context. Over the passed week I was required to conduct a social experiment where I had to perform social deviance, or break socially established norms, then observe my society to see how they reacted to my “misconduct.” The experiment that I conducted was an example of informal deviance, where no one punished me and there was no risk of any punishment. It involved me riding a walled elevator (not one of those elevators that have all-glass walls) at The Oaks Mall in Thousand Oaks multiple times, but riding it backwards, or, backwards as our current society would have it deemed. I had a friend with me that helped me monitor the reactions of eight different experiment groups and got various reactions where people confronted me about my lack of normality. This contradicted my hypothesis and proved it wrong, which was, “Even if I stand the wrong way in the elevator and go against the social norm, people will go about their business and not react outwardly.” The experiment proved a lot about social norms and breaking them. It showed the significance of social norms, how much social norms play a role in society, and how people, as individuals, act when these norms are broken. Me standing the wrong way changed the...
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