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Break a Norm

josh
February 12, 2019 0 Comment

Assignment #2 – Break-a-Social-Norm

For this assignment, I want everyone to break a social norm. Then you will discuss how

breaking the norm made you feel, and how it might have made other people feel.

Step 1:

First you need to identify a social norm. Some examples are:

• Appearance (you can wear pink slippers to school or around town instead of shoes; put a blue dot on the tip of your nose; wear your shirt backward / inside-out; overdo your makeup)

• Interpersonal Behavior (stand too close or too far away from someone you are talking too; avoid eye contact; scoff at a person’s every comment)

• Social Etiquette (violate elevator norms – that is, instead of turning around to face the elevator doors when they close, face the other people in the elevator and stare them in the eye!; eat with your mouth open; talk loudly in a library; fly a kite inside the mall, something one of my former students actually did!)

• These are only examples. Please try to be creative and come up with some original ideas on your own. Another one of my former students stood behind people at water fountains chanting “Chug! Chug! Chug!” loudly.

Note: You may want to do the behavior several times in different places to note any

interesting patterns. Do people’s reactions may differ as a function of sex, age, location?

Step 2:

Incorporate the following points in a short paper (400 words minimum, 700 words

maximum):

1). What implicit norm(s) did you violate? (5 points)

2). Describe how you violated it (them). (6 points)

3). Analyze your thoughts and feelings while you violated the norm(s). (6 points)

4). Analyze what other people were probably thinking about your violation (6 points)

5). Did you gain any insight into your own or others’ behavior? What about the power of

the situation? (6 points)

6). Include at least one key social psychological principle in your paper. You may want to include something about role-playing, conformity / nonconformity, normative

social influence, cognitive dissonance, self-monitoring, etc. Your choice, but have At least one! (6 points)

Step 3:

Submit the assignment. Use the assignment dropbox to submit this assignment to me by

the due date. Note: I want to make some of the funniest papers available to the entire

class, so don’t mention your name in the text if you would like it to remain anonymous

(or tell me if you would rather others not know what you did and I will make sure to keep

your assignment private)! Cut and paste the assignment directly into the assignment

dialogue box. Do not add it as an attachment

Your paper can take on either a paragraph format or you can list out what you did (“This is the norm I decided to break. This is how I broke it. This is how I felt. This is

what I think other people thought as I broke the norm. This is the insight I gained. This is

an aspect of social psychology that is applicable.”)

Grading Rubric (Applies to each of the 6 questions above)

Poor (0% of points) Fair (50% of points) Good (100% of points)

Content/Idea

Development

Up to 4 points

each question

(up to 3 points

for question 1)

– No key elements

are present

– No understanding

of material

– No analysis of

content

– Some key elements are

present

– Little understanding of

material

– Little analysis of

content

– All key elements are

present

– Content is accurate

– Clear understanding of

material

– Strong analysis of

content

Style/Mechanics

Up to 1 point

– Lots of grammar or

spelling mistakes

– Few or no grammar or

spelling mistakes

Organization

Up to 1 point

– Did not follow

directions

– Followed all of the

directions

An “Example” paper from a prior student is on the next

page (a funny one by a male, by the way!)

Break-A-Norm Assignment (Assignment #2) – Prior Student (A male student!)

1). What implicit norm(s) did you violate? (5 points)

For this social psychology class, we were asked to go out and break a social

psychological norm. I chose to break an appearance social norm. I went to K-Mart

and bought the most ridiculous thing I could find to wear out in public. While at K-

Mart, I found a pink onesie pajama with polka dots, which was perfect. I knew this

onesie would be perfect for the experiment because as I paid for it, the cashier gave

me a weird look when she saw what I was buying. Although the cashier gave me a

weird look, she did not ask why I was buying it. Probably because she wanted to

avoid an awkward situation and because she felt like it was none of her business to

question me about why I was buying a pink onesie.

2). Describe how you violated it (them). (6 points)

As soon as I bought the pajamas I put them on and went straight to International Mall

to walk around. The second I got out of my car and started walking towards the mall I

could sense everyone in the parking lot staring at me. I already felt extremely

awkward and I had not even entered the mall. This made me want to just get back in

my car and leave, but I went in and walked around anyway because I needed this

information for this assignment.

3). Analyze your thoughts and feelings while you violated the norm(s). (6 points)

As I walked into the mall, through the food court, I could feel everybody almost

instantly stare at me. I felt extremely awkward and embarrassed. As the people

around me continued to stare at me I felt out of place. I tried to convince myself that I

did not care what these strangers thought about me in order to continue walking

around. Although convincing myself that what others thought about me did not matter

helped me get through that evening and get the information I needed, deep down I

still felt very uncomfortable with the situation I put myself in.

4). Analyze what other people were probably thinking about your violation (6 points)

While I walked around the mall, people looked at me like I was a weird person.

Others thought it was amusing and would to turn to their friends, or whomever they

were with, and tell them to look at what I was wearing. Only one person at the mall

decided to ask me why I was wearing a pink onesie. While I was at the mall I bought

a pretzel and as I tried not to act awkward in my pajamas and the cashier asked me if

I had lost a bet or something. I then explained to him that the reason I was wearing

the pajamas was because I was doing a social psychology experiment. The cashier

seemed intrigued by the experiment and since there was no line behind me I went on

to explain to him the details of the experiment and how it revolves around social

norms

5). Did you gain any insight into your own or others’ behavior? What about the power of

the situation? (6 points)

The insight I gathered is that I try to avoid awkward situations as much as possible

and that putting myself into an uncomfortable situation such as this made me face the

horror of being out of place. I actually wanted people to come up to me and ask me

why I was wearing a pink onesie out in public, so I could explain to them that this

was for an assignment. At least this way people would not think that the only reason I

was wearing a onesie is because I was a strange person.

6). Include at least one key social psychological principle in your paper. You may want to include something about role-playing, conformity / nonconformity, normative

social influence, cognitive dissonance, self-monitoring, etc. Your choice, but have at least one! (6 points)

The situation I was in brought about conformity among the strangers at the mall. The

reason for this is because they thought I was a strange person for going out in public

dressed inappropriately. We have to conform to society and dress a certain way while

we are out in public in order to fit it with others. The people at the mall knew that I

was not wearing appropriate attire for the mall because I was wearing pajamas, which

are for sleeping. Of course I also felt like I was under the spotlight (the spotlight

effect). Maybe I thought others were appraising me more than they actually were.

Then again, in this situation maybe everyone was actually looking at the crazy guy in

the pink onesie!

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