Elevator Norms

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11 March 2013

Elevator Norm Violation

I recently performed an experiment on a norm violation which had to do with elevators, and proper behavior while inside of them. The over all plan of this experiment was to stand facing the corner of the elevator so that no one could see my face as I went up or down. People today usually stand facing the door while riding in an elevator, so it was interesting to see peoples reactions as I violated this everyday norm. My hypothesis was that I would not get very many reactions – unless it was a close friend of mine who was entering the elevator. It turned out that I was completely wrong because I got various reactions. The population of people in the elevator that I experimented with were mostly freshman female's. The most abundant reaction that I received was people asking me if I was okay. I found this comical because they could not see my facial expression when I stood against the wall. With no reply to their questions, they just went about their business and exited the elevator quietly. Another reaction that I repeatedly saw was laughter and whispering amongst those who were standing in the elevator. People most likely laughed because this was not something that they see everyday. It shocked me how people wanted to converse more when I was facing the opposite direction of them. I compared the amount of times I rode the elevator facing forward (normally), with the amount of times I rode facing the corner, and concluded that people wanted to hold conversation more when I was facing the wall. This norm violation made me realize that it did not just affect those around me, but it affected how I was seen to the world. It is unbelievable how much daily norms shape the way society acts around each other. It can be the smallest break of a norm, and all of a sudden weird looks are exchanged, and people automatically view you differently. Social norms play such a large role in our society today. Even a small behavior change...
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