A diversity of social norms: tradition, sex, nationality

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Informal laws or practices recognized in a group or culture are referred to as social norms. Owing to the diverse views and values held and followed by various groups based on traditions, age, nationality, sex, or race, there is a plurality in social norms. Due to the variety, multiple cultures have different standards that are regarded as natural by societies, so that when someone performs an act in a particular way, they are considered abnormal (Stanfey, stallen, and Chang).
Societies impose norms to regulate social activities, inform and direct their citizens, control actions, and define what should be considered abnormal. Social norms also affect societal beliefs and representations of accepted form of conduct in the society and perceptions of society do’s and don’ts (Stanfey, Stallen and Chang).

A breaching experiment is one that is practiced in order to determine the various reactions of people towards a violation of commonly accepted rules and practiced ways. Psychology and sociology studies have brought forward approaches of observation and assumptions in an effort to study today’s social interactions. Am going to implement all mentioned approaches to attain an accurate report on common reactions experienced in today’s world in the occurrence of norm breaches (Page and Joshua).

The social norm breaching experiment I choose is founded on public behavior where I go about yelling in a park and talking in high tones. I would visit a park with a high population of people and start walking as I shout like a madman. I choose a large populated park, so I can get the maximum number of observations on various people so as to help in analyzing the common reactions experienced.

Shouting as you walk is considered abnormal by societal standards and people will either step up and ask if you are okay, run away from you or even confront you and claim you are interrupting the peaceful serene that exists in the park. I would perform the norm breaching experiment so as to note the reactions of the people and what most of those who see me are likely to do.

I choose this experiment to see if my initial perceptions on doing this were right or wrong and if people will even consider it a social norm breach or go about with their activities. I would walk closer to my viewers to get their attention and see their diverse reactions and have a friend to help in the observation and interviewing after I pass.

I also choose this experiment to see if others would conform to social influence involving a change in behavior or belief, to fit into a group or group pressure. Most sensible people would naturally get to the pack and sit or tiptoe. Besides, I wanted to predict or see if the individual or people would follow the direction of someone else based on reactions.

I plan on conducting the experiment ten times and incorporate both observations, note-taking, and interviews to arrive at accurate data; I also decided to approach people of different gender, age, and races to see the decree of how their reactions would vary for different results and to reduce biases.

As a researcher I would use a vivid description of the events, watch people’s reactions and ask my friend who helps in observation to conduct interviews after I pass by asking the people I approached what they thought of me, listen and write down their speculations and artifacts in the social setting chosen for the experiment.

We will conduct the experiment by actively looking, doing informal interviewing, writing detailed field notes while observing and participating in the experiment. Concerning reactions, I think some people would react, and some people won't respond to the experiment at all, even if it is out of the norm or not. However, I do believe it would create some confusion, concern, beliefs/assumption or even some people thinking it’s humorous.

There are others who wouldn't even notice or even care if I was yelling or not maybe because they were too busy focusing on other important things i.e. trying to get to class or a destination or too busy communicating with others around them. We think people who would respond, would just keep looking back at the person or wall wondering why or what they were looking at, or even being concerned about asking if they were okay.

I believe age, gender, race, and ethnicity equally play a part, where young adults would think it is hilarious and the mature older adults would not think it’s as funny but might be concerned. When it comes to ethnicity, I believe their religion/beliefs and how they were brought up would also play a part in how they would react or not to the situation as those from religious backgrounds may try to get me to a mental care while the heathens won’t even bother about it.

Regarding gender, I believe that the females will look shy and confused and show some concern if I was feeling well or not but they will tend to move out of my path for the fear that I may be mad and harm them. I think that the men will go around minding their own business like they did not notice anything peculiar at all. The teenagers will just laugh and view it as funny and stare back at me until am out of sight.

The Experiment

On 6th July 2017 at 2 pm, I went to the park with my friend Alex to help in observation. I picked a Saturday afternoon as it is the day when many people visit the park so it is always busy and full of people of different genders, races, and age which would help exposed my experiment to diversity regarding age, gender, and races.

The park was large and full giving an enabling environment for my research. I asked Alex to follow me suit so he may get all the observations and get to interview some people after I pass by them but act like we were strangers. I started by walking towards parents who were playing with their kids.

The kids watched me as I walked yelling past them while their mothers showed some looks of concern for me and moved closer to their children in trying to protect them. The dads who were drinking beer some distance away from their playing families ignored me as I yelled past them.

As I walked past some middle aged girls, they moved from my part and looked so scared like I was going to hurt them. After I had passed by them, they starred back and seemed to pity me, when Alex asked them what they thought about me they all in unison expressed some comments of sympathy which Alex noted down. They said they believed that I was probably having a bad day. Or was having some form of mental disorder.

As I passed by some middle-aged woman who seemed to be in a hurry, she hardly noticed me, she appeared to be after catching the train or something, and that might have reduced her focus on the surrounding. Some grandmother sited at the park with her pet puppy looked very concerned and seemed to sadden from her face.

White men looked and stared at me while the black people rarely gave a bother of what I was doing as they went on with their activities. White people also paved the way for me to pass while the black men just walked in my path with no notion of fear or confusion in their faces. Black men rarely looked scared as compared to the white men I met.


After the experiment and analyzing my data I found out that I was right on almost all the assumptions I had made earlier about the experiment and the various reactions expected all the way from the different gender, races and age differences. In my experiment, I also got to learn that people who were in a hurry rarely noticed weird activities in their surroundings as compared to those who were at rest.

I conclude that in this day and age, we are a part of a society where social media is widespread, and the public's opinion is of great importance to many. This social pressure can make people vulnerable to following the norm to stay socially accepted. That knowledge allowed us to correctly assume that many people would have an adverse reaction to my behavior of breaking the social norm in the park.

Works Cited

Page, Joshua. "'it Can't Be a Lie': The Wire as Breaching Experiment." (2016).

Sanfey, Alan G., Mirre Stallen, and Luke J. Chang. "Norms and expectations in social decision-making." Trends in Cognitive Sciences 18.4 (2014): 172-174.

October 20, 2021



Race and Ethnicity

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Diversity Social Norms

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