Breaking the Norm A social norm is a belief or unspoken “rule” on how people should act in different situations. And when you are in those situations and you act as you “should”, its normal. If you don’t act as you should its considered different or weird. Sociologists called it breaking the social norm. There is a social norm of standing in an elevator the “right way’, which is standing facing toward the doors of the elevator. When you first get of the elevator, you press the button to which floor you want to get off on. Then, naturally like everyone else, oh face the elevator doors until it is your time to get off.
There is no rule that states which way you have to stand on an elevator, we does do it. My group decided to break that normative behavior. We went to the elevator near the financial aid services desk in Moslem Hall on the Miami Hamilton campus. There were three of us participating in the norm breaking and two persons videotaping the reactions of the people. It’s important to note that the three of us that were participating, were all girls and of the age of eighteen. On the day that we broke this norm it was a bit chilly outside and very windy.
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We also conducted our experiment between 1-2 p. M. We placed one person to videotape on the first floor of Moslem Hall and the second person on the third floor of Moslem Hall to videotape. We first got onto the elevator on the first floor of Moslem and turned to face the back wall of the elevator when other people would enter onto the elevator with us. Then we got off of the elevator on the third floor of Moslem and the three of us separated into different directions as if we weren’t together. We would then go back to the first floor and do it over again to observe the people’s reactions.
A couple of times, we would turn from facing the back wall to facing the side wall to see if the people’s reactions would change. In breaking this social norm, we didn’t get a lot of reactions like we originally thought we would. We are all pretty disappointed. One, because there weren’t a lot of people getting on or off of the elevators so we had to Just sit around and wait for a while for someone to show up and even then there was only about 1 person on the elevator at a time. So, there wasn’t a lot of variety of people or chances to get good reactions. I think this happened because of the time slot that we conducted the experiment in.
We conducted it between 1-2 p. M. , so most people were in class or had already gone home because they were done with classes for the day. Another reason I don’t think we got many reactions is because we were three girls doing it. My group discussed this and thought that maybe if there was a male in our group then maybe more people would have reacted or would have done something different. Most people Just ignored us or didn’t even recognize what we were doing because they were on their phones. One of the best reactions that we observed came from a male student.
We had entered onto the elevator with him on the first floor and automatically walked to the back and faced the back wall. Right away he was very confused and kept looking at us like we were crazy. He stood against the side wall of the elevator and Just stared out at us as we were walking away and he was still so confused. He looked down the hall and then looked around inside of the elevator and said “what the heck was that? ” Another reaction was from an older women. The two other girls in my group got on he elevator on the first floor and I stayed on the third floor, to enter on at separate times.
When I got on, the older women was already on the elevator with them. I decided to pretend that I had no idea what was going on. I whispered to the women and asked if she knew what they were doing. She started to laugh and said she had no idea, they were like that when she got on. When the girls in my group got off of the elevator, I stayed on with the older women. As soon as they got off, we both started laughing. She was shock, thought it was so weird and dumb that they girls ere standing that way and she was too afraid to ask them why they were.
She was freaking out, it was hilarious. During the experience, it was difficult at first for us all to remain calm and not laugh. But, somehow we managed to do it! Again, I think that if there was a male in our group then they would have had a different experience because more people would have reacted. While breaking this social norm, I learned a lot. I learned the significance of a social norm and Just how much of a role social norms do play in society. Social norms are a big thing in this society and it wasn’t all that easy to break it.