Breaking Social Norms Essay

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Alex King SOC-10 10/13/12 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…show more content…
The gesture was small and confined to a very small space, yet it proved to generate great and powerfully negative reactions. As stated earlier, this experiment completely proved my hypothesis wrong. Many of the people that rode the elevator with me stared at me as though there were something wrong with me. Most were uncomfortable and fidgety and kept looking over their shoulder at me as they rode forward, and me, backwards. More than a few asked if I was alright and even asked my friend, who was acting as if he did not know me, knew what was was wrong. I even conducted a few controlled experiments where I rode the elevator forward to see if people would react to me then, but not a single person outside of the experiment even acknowledged my existence. I would have thought that in a place like L.A. County, people would be too busy to notice others, or people would have been raised to mind their own business and keep to themselves, but apparently abiding my social standards and making sure that others do as well is a higher priority. I suppose one can use conformity as a reasoning for these results. Society as a whole has learned to conform to social standards and change their behavior to fit in so they aren't so different from others, so as not to be the odd one out and when they see others behaving differently than themselves, or as the society that they're in, they're labeled as “weird” or “strange.” Behaviorists might say
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