Experiment with Social Norms

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We often make the remark that we came into this world individually, therefore we must live life to please ourselves. While it is true that we came into this world individually, it is equally true that we are born into society, making us social beings. As social beings, there are certain principles and norms in society that we are expected to go by. These are commonly referred to as social norms. Because the social norms are perceived as generally accepted by society, choosing to do things differently from them sometimes attract strange and awkward reactions from people.

In a social experiment, I decided to violate certain social norms. First, I ate a banana in public in a way that I would eat watermelon. I did this on a train. I observed that people had an unwelcoming reaction to my action. Even though no one spoke to me in plain language, the most immediate reaction I would read from the way people looked at me was that they thought I was insane or had a mental disorder. I could spot one lady looking at the face of another person who was a total stranger to her, and giggling.

In my second social experiment, I stood a little closer to someone in an elevator than I would normally do. In fact, the initial reaction of the person nearly got me laughing loud. This is because the person immediately moved further away from me in a way that seemed that she was alarmed. Even though I did not react violently or move suddenly towards the person, I suspected that she found it strange that I would suddenly abandon my spot and move so close to her.

I got the impression that if there were no other people in the elevator, she would have reacted more extremely by either screaming or stopping off earlier than she planned. What was significant, however was that just like the experiment on the train, this person also did not alter a word but reacted with facial expressions and body language only. This was, however an expression that was clearly wondering if I was a normal person or insane.

In the last violation, I called my father by his first name. To add some euphoria to this, I did that in public when we were getting ready for a mini family meeting. Once I called out ‘Abraham’, the fact that we were indoors and did not have a lot of people around clearly suggested that it was my father that I was referring to. He did not respond orally, but gave me a strange look in the same way I had strangely called him.

This was of course the first time I was doing that. The reaction in this instance was however not one associated with surprise as to whether I was insane. This is because shortly after my father gave me that look, the entire family burst into laughter, teasing his reaction. My mother then asked me what had become of me; but she asked that almost in a jovial manner. I think took the happy euphoria to explain that it was a school assignment.

In all, I realised that when you engage in social violation, people are very quick to detect it since it is against the norm. Secondly, people are not likely to openly, verbally or orally express their surprise if they are not very close to you. Finally, people who are very close like relatives are more likely to detect that it is a planned action.


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Experiment with Social Norms. (2021, May 21). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/experiment-with-social-norms/

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