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Violating Social Norms Assignment Submission

Breaking a Social Norm Essay

863 WordsDec 19th, 20104 Pages

Breaking a social norm

In our society we have a number of society norms that we abide by. For example, there is an unwritten rule of how one should behave in an elevator. For example, 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, humor, fear, irritation, or an array of other emotions. When you think of a norm, you are probably thinking about being normal. But in psychology terms, norm means, a standard or representative value for a group. The norm that is more common to people is a social norm. Meaning expectations about what behavior, thoughts, or feelings are appropriate within a given group within a given context.
In society today us as…show more content…

I wanted to turn around and say something but I just kept my cool and said to myself, “This is only a test Cynthia don’t let them get to you.” Once I finished talking to myself I was relieved and ready to go into the movies. While walking into the movies, I received more looks and heard more whispers coming out of people which really didn’t make sense. All they had to do was just except me for who I was and that I was wearing clothes. After I got tired of the looks and whispers I changed my clothes and walked back in movie theatre. Once again my boyfriend looked at me strangely and said, “ Why did you change”? When I finally broke it down to him that I was doing a project for psychology he started to laugh. His response towards me was, he was going to love me no matter how I come out the house. I thought that was cute, that let me know that he doesn’t care what people think and that he was always going to be with me no matter how I look. When I broke the norm of how I look, I felt really insecure about myself and I really did care of what people were going to say about me. But I did learn this people are very judgmental on a person that they have no clue about.
The other norm that I broke was going against authority. The authority that I went against was my mom during Thanksgiving dinner. When I did this norm, I really felt bad because, me and my mom are so close and I would never had disrespect her the way I

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Identify a common social norm and then construct an experiment in which you violate this norm. You should observe how others react to you and also how it makes you feel.  You may want to have some helpers who can help observe others’ response, but the experiment should ultimately be your own.

  1. Before you begin the assignment, pay attention to the people around you or in the situation where you plan to violate a social norm. How are they acting? Observe how this changes when you break the norm. 
  2. Connect your observations and findings to course concepts.  This is worth 20 points of your grade.
  3. Use correct grammar and spelling.  This is worth 15 points of your grade.
  4. Answer three questions from the list below; each answer is worth 10 points
  5. If you fail to conform to assignment limitations, you will receive a 0 for this paper.
  6. Submit your paper to Smartthinking or to a fellow student for comments; this is worth 10 points of your grade.
  7. Turn in five pages and an additional cover page
  8. Remember include a title page and page numbers.  This is worth 8 points of your grade.

To get you started, here are some norms you might violate:

  1. Social Distance Norms
  2. Conversational Norms
  3. Gender Norms
  4. Volume Norms

PLEASE NOTE: A man who decides to grow a beard has not violated a norm, even if he has never worn a beard before.  A man who decides to grow a beard and dye it pink has violated a norm, because it is normative for the males of this era to avoid dying their beards.



After doing your experiment, answer at least three of the following questions.


    1. What social sanctions resulted from your norm violation? Who created and/or enforced them? How?
    2. How do race, class, and/or gender affect your deviance (others perception of it, your ability to do it, different sanctions that might be brought against different groups or person engaging in the same act)?
    3. What theories best explain the deviance that you have engaged in?
    4. What if you could not change your norm violation? How would others see you? How would you cope? How would it affect your life and those around you?
    5. During your time as a “deviant,” how uncomfortable were you? What normally keeps you in line? How hard is it to break an unspoken rule? How are the unspoken rules enforced?


        - Don’t do anything that is likely to elicit aggressive responses from others.

  1. Don’t crowd people using a bank machine or credit card.
  2. Don’t follow anyone home 
  3. Don’t yell fire in a crowed room
  4. Don’t scream racial/prejudice slurs
  5. Don’t threaten or menace other people

- If people become visibly upset, back off. Apologize. Explain your behavior.  Have the assignment handy. 

-This is not a free pass to be a menace or make people cry.

- Avoid being overtly rude to people, there are many norms to violate and I will be happy to suggest something for you to do.

-Be creative and humorous.  This is meant to be fun!  If you want to be the punch line of a joke, that's okay!  If you don't want to do something overt, that's okay!  If you have a great norm violation and you want to involve your friends in trying it out, that's okay!