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Satisfactory Essays
Topics: Sociology
Norm Violation

Much of our social behavior is shaped by situational norms. These norms are often unwritten and implicit, but their influence can be very strong, as can be seen by people’s reactions when someone violates them. This exercise is designed to help you gain an increased awareness of the power of social norms, deviance, and conformity. You are going to engage in some norm-violating behavior and then analyze both your own and other people’s reactions.

First, identify a norm about common, everyday behavior. Then choose a behavioral action that somehow breaks, violates, or deviates from that norm. This action can often be simple and even subtle, rather than outrageous. Some possible options are listed below.

Appearance: Dress in a way that is not typical for you, such as wearing a dress or a suit if you normally wear jeans.

Interpersonal Behavior: When talking to someone, stand either too close (within one foot) or too far away (about three feet or more). Try to maintain this distance, even if the other person moves to change it.

When talking to someone, avoid making direct eye contact. Instead, look at a particular other place while you are talking, such as over the person’s head, at the person’s ear, down at the ground, etc.

Social Etiquette: Whenever someone says, “How are you?” or “How’s it going?” respond with a detailed answer describing your state of health and current physical symptoms, your emotional feelings, recent activities, etc.

Sing out loud when you are in an elevator or on a bus with other people.

NOTE: People can react very strongly to norm violations. Do not engage in any illegal or dangerous behavior or do anything that might cause you or others harm or acute embarrassment. DO NOT do this assignment in any of your classes.

Ideally, you should perform the norm violation several times or over the course of an entire day. Be prepared to answer the following questions in class:

1. Identify the

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