Breaking Social Norms Essay

530 words - 3 pages

Sociology

Breaking Social Norms

Social Norms are unwritten rules about how to behave.  They provide us with an expected idea of how to behave in a particular social group or culture.  For example, we expect students to arrive to lesson on time and complete their work.
The idea of norms provides a key to understanding social influence in general and conformity in particular. Social norms are the accepted standards of behavior of social groups.  These groups range from friendships to even work groups. There are norms defining appropriate behavior for every social group. For example, students, neighbors and patients in a hospital are all aware of the norms governing behavior, and as the individual moves from one ...view middle of the document...

There is always an awkward tension between people in an elevator because the people are only in there so they can get to their own destination. Also, no one ever cares to start a conversation because the elevator ride is only a few seconds. So for my experiment, I decided to test how people would react if I actually stood the wrong way.
I wanted to do this experiment where there was a lot of people riding elevators throughout the day. I thought a great place would be a hospital, so I decided to go to Regional Hospital of Scranton. I was really nervous beforehand because breaking a social norm can be awkward and embarrassing. I actually ended up riding the elevator facing the wrong way for about fifteen to twenty minutes. A lot of people came in and as soon as they entered, I could feel them staring at me and feel the tension rise. A few people started to laugh as well when they walked in. Also, one doctor asked if I was ok and needed help, but I assured him I was fine. Everyone had the same reaction I thought they would have while I stood the wrong way. It felt really weird and uncomfortable breaking the norm, but it was funny to see how people would react to it.
For this experiment, it definitely made me realize how strong and powerful social norms are when it comes to society. Norms definitely provide order in the world. It is difficult to see how human society could operate without social norms. Human beings need norms to guide and direct their behavior, to provide order and predictability in social relationships, and to make sense of and understanding of each other’s actions. These are some of the reasons why most people, most of the time, conform to social norms.

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