Sociology Experiment: Breaking Social Norms

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#1 Posted by edgewalker16 (2284 posts) -

Ok, OT, I need your valued input/ideas. I have phase 1 of an assignment coming up and it's a proposal of how I would go about breaking a social norm. I'll give you an example:

Breaking a social norm would be getting in an elevator but, instead of staring at the door, you stare at everybody else for the the entire ride up. It makes people feel uncomfortable and "out of their comfort zone."

That's my assignment--to come up with something (that I will have to do, eventually) that makes people feel uncomfortable. Unfortunately, the elevator example was used by my professor and I, therefore, cannot use it. I have a couple ideas as to what I might do, but I also figured it wouldn't be a bad idea to get other people's input as well. There's only one rule, really: whatever social norm I break can't cause physical harm to myself or anybody else or cause mental harm to anybody. It can't be something I could get arrested for, either. For example: calling random people "pedophiles" while I gauge their reaction would be something I cannot do. So, bearing in mind that I will actually have to do this in real life, what are some suggestions? What things do you find uncomfortable when in a social environment?

TL;DR: What scenarios make you feel uncomfortable in public? It will be something I must eventually do to people on a college campus or around town and then record reactions.

#2 Posted by allnamestaken (6617 posts) -
Go all meta and conduct one in the soc room. Maybe start writing on the blackboard, if you guys have one, at the start of class and see how your prof. reacts.
#3 Posted by Peiner09 (722 posts) -

Drive through detroit in a prius.

#4 Posted by allnamestaken (6617 posts) -

Drive through detroit in a prius.

Peiner09
Drive through (do not bypass) Detroit.
#5 Posted by DroidPhysX (17093 posts) -

I know some people that get tenseif you watch them eat.

I actually did that to my friend once a few weeks ago. I wore my hood up because it was freezing and sat down at a table next to hers. She didnt recognize me, so i decided to freak her out and watch her eat for teh lulz.

#6 Posted by Peiner09 (722 posts) -

wear clothes of the opposite gender.

#7 Posted by DroidPhysX (17093 posts) -

wear clothes of the opposite gender.

Peiner09

Go to the Westboro Baptist church and hit on the guys?

#8 Posted by 194197844077667059316682358889 (49173 posts) -
Drunken public urination
#9 Posted by MetalGear_Ninty (6337 posts) -
Go into a sparesely populated cinema theatre, sit next to random person you don't know. Job done.
#10 Posted by MetalGear_Ninty (6337 posts) -
Go into a sparesely populated cinema theatre, sit next to random person you don't know. Job done.MetalGear_Ninty
Don't forget to observe.
#11 Posted by MetalGear_Ninty (6337 posts) -
I think a lot of you are missing the point. :P
#12 Posted by inoperativeRS (8844 posts) -
Go to a Starbucks. Find someone surfing the internet on a laptop. Stand behind them and stare at the screen.
#13 Posted by edgewalker16 (2284 posts) -

Drunken public urinationxaos

It can't get me arrested. I'll amend the rules in the first post.

Go all meta and conduct one in the soc room. Maybe start writing on the blackboard, if you guys have one, at the start of class and see how your prof. reacts.allnamestaken

That's a good one too, but I'm not sure how I could accomplish "shock and awe" reactions, especially on the professor, if I have to submit a proposal to him of what I'll eventually be doing. I'll have to think about that one.

#14 Posted by MetalGear_Ninty (6337 posts) -
Go to a Starbucks. Find someone surfing the internet on a laptop. Stand behind them and stare at the screen.inoperativeRS
Good one.
#15 Posted by cody3232 (877 posts) -

I don't think you really need to make someone feel uncomfortable to break a social norm... unless it's part of your project.

#16 Posted by MetalGear_Ninty (6337 posts) -
Meet up with a friend, examine what they are wearing then promptly change to an outfit that closely resembles their own outfit.
#17 Posted by Pffrbt (6596 posts) -

You get on an elevator and, generally, the first thing you do is perhaps nod your head in acknowledging other people's presence

I've never done this or seen anyone else do it.

That's my assignment--to come up with something (that I will have to do, eventually) that makes people feel uncomfortable.edgewalker16

Is there any real purpose to this assignment?

#18 Posted by hyrueprince11 (5722 posts) -

Dance in a place were people don't dance even when there is dancing music

#19 Posted by xTheExploited (12094 posts) -
I went to see The Kings Speech over the weekend and it got to the bit just before the movie after the trailers when it gets really dark and its pretty quiet but you can still hear whispering in the audience. Its whispering over the room but everything's still really quiet and I was thinking the whole time of what would happen if I just suddenly screamed "everyone shut the f*** up" and how they would react.
#20 Posted by edgewalker16 (2284 posts) -

[QUOTE="edgewalker16"]You get on an elevator and, generally, the first thing you do is perhaps nod your head in acknowledging other people's presence

I've never done this or seen anyone else do it.

That's my assignment--to come up with something (that I will have to do, eventually) that makes people feel uncomfortable.Pffrbt

Is there any real purpose to this assignment?

To study how people react when a particular part of their day/daily process is disrupted in an unorthodox, socially compromising way...at least that's what I understood from my professor's lecture.
#21 Posted by RushKing (1780 posts) -

Eat a bag of potato chips while walking around in a public area.

Oh, and don't use the straw the bartender provided with your beverage.

#22 Posted by Pffrbt (6596 posts) -

To study how people react when a particular part of their day/daily process is disrupted in an unorthodox, socially compromising way...at least that's what I understood from my professor's lecture.edgewalker16

I would think it would be blatantly obvious.

#23 Posted by chrisrooR (9027 posts) -
Talk obnoxiously loud over the phone during a movie.
#24 Posted by idk761 (3229 posts) -
While talking to someone, be right up in their face, almost nose touching.
#25 Posted by DarkGamer007 (6033 posts) -

Go into any fast food resturant and when the cashier asks to take your order respond "No, I don't want you to take my order I want that (point to different cashier) employee to take my order."

#26 Posted by nintendofreak_2 (25896 posts) -

It might be very similar to your professor's example, but you could stand in a spot (or walk down the sidewalk) and stare at everybody that walks by you, and then follow them for a little bit. I would only suggest doing this during daytime though. :P
Assuming you're a guy, you could talk to people in the restroom while you and other people are taking care of business, as well as purposefully using the urinal next to them.
You could ask people very impersonal questions too.

That's all I've got really.

#27 Posted by magicalclick (23732 posts) -
Just don't take a shower. But making people uncomfortable has nothing to do with breaking social norm.
#28 Posted by rawsavon (40002 posts) -
I love doing these things. But, alas, I would be breaking the TOU by helping you with your homework
#29 Posted by zeldaluff (3387 posts) -

Go to the store and ask strangers for permission to do things, like buy oranges.

#30 Posted by clayron (10121 posts) -
Be a Black male with a college degree and no aspirations of a record deal.
#31 Posted by Lockedge (16794 posts) -
On an empty bus, sit next to someone, despite there being excess empty seats. Stare at another guy in the urinals Hang up on someone without saying goodbye Ride in the back of a friend's car instead of the front.
#32 Posted by one_plum (6364 posts) -

Pick your nose, so simple.

#33 Posted by edgewalker16 (2284 posts) -
I love doing these things. But, alas, I would be breaking the TOU by helping you with your homeworkrawsavon
An opinion based homework assignment isn't the same as asking, "what's 2 +2?" 10, 100, or 1000 heads are better than one...besides, this topic is probably entertaining for more people than just me. It's fun reading everybody's idea of what qualifies as breaking a social norm.
#34 Posted by TaigaTiger (660 posts) -

observe how couples hold hands. I did a similar assignment in my first year. If you observe couples holding hands you'll noticed the male has his hand in the front while the females in the back. you'll also notice more guys opening doors for girls. Ummmm if you have a girlfriend you could try it with her.

#35 Posted by ManifestoJoe (587 posts) -
go into yer fast food restaurant of choice, get food, go to a table, and eat there standing up. eh?
#36 Posted by awesomeface (3661 posts) -
Look up at a tall building and watch people trying to see what your looking at. Look at people in the eye and smile.
#37 Posted by MillenialFair99 (2866 posts) -
Be a Black male with a college degree and no aspirations of a record deal.clayron
Hahahaha*coughracistcough*.......
#38 Posted by rawsavon (40002 posts) -
[QUOTE="rawsavon"]I love doing these things. But, alas, I would be breaking the TOU by helping you with your homeworkedgewalker16
An opinion based homework assignment isn't the same as asking, "what's 2 +2?" 10, 100, or 1000 heads are better than one...besides, this topic is probably entertaining for more people than just me. It's fun reading everybody's idea of what qualifies as breaking a social norm.

1. no it is not...same thing 2. some have been funny...others not so much
#39 Posted by dracula_16 (14773 posts) -

Letting out a big fart while having my iPod earbuds in my ears. They think that my music is too loud for me to hear my own farts, but I know full well how loud the fart is.

#40 Posted by XxspritexX (5836 posts) -
Look into a persons eyes when you are talking to them. It scares the **** out of people.
#41 Posted by -Unreal- (24551 posts) -
[QUOTE="XxspritexX"]Look into a persons eyes when you are talking to them. It scares the **** out of people.

That's just the opposite of shyness.
#42 Posted by Xbot_720 (834 posts) -

wear clothes of the opposite gender.

Peiner09

This! This was my idea as well. If you're a male, I say walk around in public in some daisy dukes/booty shorts.

#43 Posted by 2good2betrue (7791 posts) -

You could try standing really close to someone when talking to them (inside their comfort zone or elbow space.)

#44 Posted by Optical_Order (5100 posts) -

Sit on top of the table at the lunchroom and eat spaghetti with your hands while playing patti cake with your feet.

#45 Posted by Pffrbt (6596 posts) -

Nobody likes a dick.

#46 Posted by Acemaster27 (4482 posts) -
Someone left a box of apples in the elevator at my university that said "Do not remove. This box provides a counterweight and if removed the elevator will ascend rapidly."