SOC 1010 Unit IV Scholarly Activity: Breaking A Norm Experiment

Unit IV Scholarly Activity: Breaking A Norm Experiment

SOC 1010, Introduction to Sociology

Columbia Southern University

Unit IV Scholarly Activity: Breaking A Norm Experiment

Part A (Before Breaking the Norm)

I decided to try and break two different norms. They were firstly, standing too close to other individuals and secondly, staring at someone for an extended amount of time. Both of the norms I have chosen are informal norms. I picked these because formal norms have been generally written down and specify strict punishment for violators, (Witt, 2016). Informal norms are the opposite and do not have as severe reactions. I did not want to undertake a task that would require me to break a law so I picked the less ridged of the two options. I believe these two norms exist as a form of informal social control. The reason behind this idea is that standing too close to someone and staring someone in the eyes is viewed as negative act. When someone registers that one of these two is occurring they will normally give the offender a look of ridicule or contempt. The reason standing too close is viewed as negative is because most people enjoy what is referred to as personal space or personal bubble. When this space is invaded it is uncomfortable for many people. The reason staring someone in the eye is viewed as negative is because it is viewed as a way to establish power over another person. Overall, I think that the reactions to breaking these norms will differ based on the personality of the individuals. I expect the people I stand too close beside to either step further away or to give me a look of displeasure or confusion. I expect the people I stare at to either look away or continue staring at me to establish a level of discomfort. While breaking these norms I do not expect to have any displeasure or awkwardness. My current position in the Air Force is as a professional military educator, meaning I instruct a five-week course that delivers 120 hours of professional leadership development. Part of this course is completing a four lenses personality assessment, which has an element of testing social norms within it so I am accustomed to attempting similar thing pretty frequently throughout the year.

Part B (After Breaking the Norm)

After breaking these two norms over the course of the past few days I received a wide variety of reactions. I will start off with discussing the first norm I tested which was standing too close to other individuals. Like I stated previously in the pre-norm breaking section, I actually break this norm pretty frequently throughout the year as a part of my job. I find that depending on the personality of the individual usually depends on the reaction that I receive. As a little back ground, the four lenses assessment it breaks individuals into four groups based on the way they answer the questions, they consist of gold, orange, green, and blue. The people with green personalities tend to be more reserved and tend to value personal space a lot more than the other groups. While breaking the norm with this group I got the biggest reactions, some took a step away, some gave me a concerned look, but none of them actually asked me why I was standing so close to them. For the other color groups, the reactions were not as strong. The gold personalities gave me a few weird looks but asked why I was standing so close, the blue personalities didn’t even register I was standing close to them and the orange personalities rather than stepping away joined in and stepped closer to me. To me this confirmed what I initially thought before breaking the norm that it will vary based on the personality of the individual. I did not feel awkward or weird while breaking this norm I actually enjoyed it because I like to see the different reactions I received. During my time breaking this norm I learned that I can get used to continuously breaking this norm and enjoy seeing the differences it individual personalities. For the second norm that I broke the reactions also varied pretty widely. I chose five individuals to stare at and each of them had a different reaction. The first looked away immediately and avoided me for the remained of the day, the second stared back and forth but never confronted me, the third asked me what I was looking at immediately in an aggravated manner, the fourth continued to look at me and would not turn away until I did but never asked me why I was staring, and the fifth and last continued to stare at me for a moment then asked if there was anything I needed from them. I saw these reactions as a reinforcement of the informal control because they did not like enjoy the action of me staring at them and definitely showed their displeasure in their reactions. At times I felt awkward staring at these individuals, partly because I would not like someone staring at me and also some of them refused to turn away which made it very awkward to continue looking at them. It felt like I was trying to intimidate them which was not my intent but never the less had that effect. I learned that I do not enjoy staring at others in the eye but that I do enjoy seeing the different type of responses I will receive.

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