A social norm is an unwritten rule that dominates people’s, beliefs, and behaviors in particular given social groups. According to our textbook, norms values attitudes, and expectations of people in general. Nobody wants to be rejected from a group, that is why, when people know what to expect, they are more likely to follow the unwritten rule. Usually when a social norm is broken people would react with mixed emotions. Additionally, social norms can change over time. For example nowadays when social norms are broken people would post it on social media like Facebook, Instagram, and youtube.
I was so afraid of doing something that was considered not normal in our society because of the judgment I would get from other people.
For this assignment, I was expected to violate a social norm and write up the reaction of the experience. I was not too excited to do it at first plus I’m kind of shy, but in the end, I did have fun seeing other people’s reactions.
The social norm I experiment with, involves me jumping up and down while waiting in a check-out line at a grocery store. I experimented with three different grocery stores to see the most beneficial outcome. The three grocery stores were: African store Arabic and Walmart. Growing up in different countries has taught me that social norms are different from culture to culture. And that is why I decided to go to three different stores with different cultures and backgrounds. Also, I will be comparing the group size to the experiment.
Some of the grocery stores have a lot of people, for example, African and Arabic have fewer people but at Walmart there are usually a lot of people. In my opinion, I don’t think the group size would change the outcome, but let see.
The reason why I chose to violate this social norm, is because last summer, when I was flying to California, there was a family of four, and their son was making a loud noise while jumping up and down. Everyone at the airport was giving the family dirty looks, and I could hear people whispering about how the mother should do something about her son. She was apologizing. I could see her son had some medical issues, and I felt so bad because everyone continues to give her mean expressions like she can’t control her son. The main reason, why I want to do this experiment is to see how people would react when a grown woman started jumping up and down. Also, I want to experience how the mother felt when people were whispering in front of her.
For my first trial, I chose to go to an African grocery store. When I got to the store there was nobody at the check outline, I decided to walk around until I see people at the counter. It is a little store, I didn’t expect a lot of people and that’s why I begin their first. I was not confident enough to go to the bigger store at the beginning. After quite a while an older lady was about to check out. I went behind her and I started jumping up and down while waiting. She gives me a very interesting look and begins asking if I was ok. She asked me if I need to use the toilet. I explained to her why I was jumping up and down. She was a friendly old lady we talk for a while. She told me I shouldn’t be afraid to be abnormal and that I shouldn’t care too much about other people’s opinions. She gives me great advice, and I enjoyed talking to her.
In the second try, I chose to go to an Arabic market. I wasn’t afraid because I frequently go to the store once a week. As I got to the counter, four males were standing in front of me, and I stood behind them, I begin to jump up and down. In the beginning, they looked at me, then they looked away, but a few moments later, one of them asked me if I was okay? I told him I was okay, and I continue to jump up and down. And a few seconds later, another man asked me if I want to go in front of him he said: “ it looks like you have to be somewhere”. I’m not going to lie, I took advantage of this, and I went in front of him. I appreciate him for it, and I left the store.
For my third trial, I chose to go to Walmart. I was frightened because there were too many people there. This time I took my sister with me. When we got to the checkout line, of course, I began jumping up and down. Everyone started staring at me, there was a mother with her daughter, I could see that she was so uncomfortable and I think she thought I was crazy because she pulled her daughter away from me. I was planning to explain to her why I was jumping up and down, but I couldn’t help, but to laugh with my sister. I continue to get more looks and whispers at this point I didn’t even care what people were saying I was having too much fun.
This experiment has taught me a lot about social norms in our society. I got to learn how social norms work, plus see how much people pay attention to abnormal. Another thing I learned is how people respond when people don’t follow social norms. For my experiment to not follow social norms, I got a different reaction from different people. Some were worried if I was okay, others thought I was crazy. My theory was right social norms are different from culture to culture. Although my opinion was wrong when I compared the group size, I learned people are less likely to judge, when there is a small group.
From this assignment, I discovered I shouldn’t put too much thought into people’s opinions. I announced at the beginning of the essay, I’m not comfortable with doing things out of my comfort zone, but at the end of the day, I was happy that we were assigned, with this assignment. Because I learn one of the most important lessons, and this signifies it is okay to be yourself and to do things out of your comfort zone.