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Breaking Social Norms

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Breaking Social Norms
Breaking Social Norms
Emily Brittain
Psychology 101
19 September 2012

When people are given absolute freedom they feel the need to create rules and structure. This has been shown time and time again, and without rules and structure we, as a human race, might cease to exist because there would be no teamwork or leadership. Within those confines and rules each given community creates an unspoken set of social norms, which are expectations and regulations about how people should act and present themselves. All across our planet we see a wide array of social norms from who should shake hands first, or if you should shake hands at all. In America, especially, we have very distinct, yet unspoken, social norms. When broken, people get angry, annoyed, or uncomfortable. However, we as a human race have proved to be very selfish, and unless we are directly being wronged or inconvenienced, most people will ignore the wrong doing, try every way possible not to get involved, and avoid the same thing happening to them. Also, people are more likely to find something, like breaking social norms, amusing than annoying if it is not directed towards them.

In a store, or any public place, you are meant to keep to yourself and your given party, only handle things that belong to you, and (if shopping) find your own things and buy them yourself. To experiment with this idea of breaking the norms, I went into a store and decided to take other people’s things that they were going to buy and see what happened. I made sure to go down crowded isles to see what the other people, the ones not being inconvenienced, would do also. So, I went down the aisles and would pick a person and ask them what something very generic was in their basket (this alone got stares and aggravated tones). Then, I would take the item from them. Out of all the times I did this (I did this seven times) not one onlooker said anything to me or attempted to stop me. However, they would often laugh

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