Social Norm Paper

Topics: Sociology, Norm, Convention Pages: 6 (1110 words) Published: March 8, 2015

Social Norm Paper
Erin N. Musgrove
Andrews University

Social Norm Paper
I. Introduction
According to Baumeister and Bushman (2014), “Norms are standards established by society to tell its members what types of behaviors are typical or expected” (p. 308). One step further would be social norms, which are “the rules of behavior that are considered acceptable in a group or society … Norms change according to the environment or situation and may be modified over time (“Your Dictionary”, n.d.). Different social situations call for their own set of expectations about the conventional way to behave and social norms help us to understand social influence, particularly conformity. I think that social norms are necessary and useful to provide order in society, as it would be difficult to operate our day-to-day lives without them. Norms help us to make sense of other’s actions, which is the reason most people conform to them the majority of the time. Roundy (n.d.) explained that when we do not conform to acceptable social norms, we are displaying deviance of which there are varying degrees. However, we risk being rejected by the “group” if our defiance to norms is too outrageous to be tolerated. The social norm I have chosen to violate is quietly entering a room of people in a public setting (e.g. classroom, office or restaurant). I will give a detailed description of the norm, why I chose it, what I expected to happen when I broke it, whether my norm is a norm in other cultures or groups, as well as a report of my execution of breaking this norm. II. Social Norm

As previously stated, the social norm I chose is quietly entering a room of people in a public setting. A reason it is considered a norm is that in this part of America, it is considered appropriate behavior and is deemed socially acceptable. I broke this norm by entering a room full of people I did not know, and acknowledging the whole room in a greeting loudly enough for everyone to hear me. I anticipated a variety of reactions; people looking at one another in confusion, giving me strange looks, as well as completely ignoring me. I chose this norm because in The Bahamas, my home, it is considered rude and highly disrespectful to walk into almost any public setting and not verbally acknowledge the people within a decent hearing range. Growing up, I had heard that in America, people are less in tune with their surroundings, less personable to strangers and more focused on themselves, in public especially, so this assignment gave me an opportunity to test this theory. I believe that in other cultures, especially Caribbean culture, as that is what I am familiar with, this American acceptable norm would not be socially appropriate behavior. I would attribute it to the fact that Caribbean parents are very strict and intentional about the simplest things when raising their children. Good manners are instilled at a very young age and children are severely punished when they violate any of these rules, making them more likely to continue these learnt practices through to adulthood. III. Breaking The Social Norm

I chose a couple of settings in which to break the social norm. The first was a classroom full of students I did not know and the second was a clothing store in the mall filled with shoppers. I worked alone, not intentionally, but because I spontaneously decided where and when I would break this norm and I knew that I would have been able to quickly scan the rooms to make a note of the reactions I would receive. When I broke the norm in the classroom setting, I decided to do it with one of my fuller lectures so that there were more people, making the setting less personal and the effect of my action more impactful. I walked into my classroom a few minutes late to make sure that most of the class was present, but not too late that the lecturer had already begun. When I entered, I said, “Good afternoon, all”, loudly...

References: Baumeister, R. F., & Bushman B. J. (2014). Social Psychology and Human
Nature (3rd Edition). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
Roundy, L. (n.d.). What Are Social Norms? Definition & Examples in Infants, Children &
Adults (PowerPoint slides). Retrieved February 18th, 2015, from
Your Dictionary (n.d.). Social Norm Examples. Retrieved February 18th, 2015, from
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