Expectancy Violations Theory: Cultural Norms In The United States

Decent Essays
Expectancy Violations Theory is a theory that studies how individuals react when cultural norms that are held within a society are broken. A time when I experienced someone breaking a nonverbal norm with me occurred 4 months ago while I was dating my now ex-boyfriend Khaled, a man from the country Kuwait. Kuwait’s culture is dramatically different from the culture I have grown accustomed to in the United States, therefore, the cultural norms held within our societies differ greatly as well. In the United States we are usually expected to eat our meals with utensils, our own plate, and sit at a table with chairs. This is an example of an expectancy. As defined by our textbook, expectancies are “thoughts and behaviors anticipated in conversations.” (131). While eating at a table with utensils is considered a cultural norm in the United States, in Kuwait this is…show more content…
However, he didn’t go into specifics as he was still preparing the meal with his friends. This caused me to become apprehensive about sharing this meal with them. I spent the entirety of my drive to his apartment contemplating what aspects of the way we were about to eat might differ from what I am used to. I wondered if it might have something to do with them getting into my personal space, which is “an individual’s variable use of space and distance.” (128) Personal space plays a large part in another key term that is vital in analyzing a violation of a nonverbal norm, proxemics. Proxemics is “the study of a person’s use of space.” (127) People who have grown up in the United States typically have a smaller tolerance for people getting into their personal space while eating than a person who was raised in Kuwait. This is largely due to the differences in cultures and expectancies held within each culture, however there are acceptations to these
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