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Breaking Social Norms Essay

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Our society is ruled by a massive number of social norms that we follow in our everyday lives. Social norms are these unwritten rules put into place by the society around us about what behavior, thoughts or feelings are appropriate within a given circumstance. These norms influence our actions in our everyday lives without any of us knowing how much however we do notice if one of these norms is broken. For example, when in public and someone sneezes you say “bless you” or when out having dinner at a restaurant the social norm is that you must chew with your mouth closed and avoid making loud chewing sounds. Breaking a social norm in public may result in people becoming angry some might look at you strange, laugh at you, or even make fun of you which makes us in turn feel uncomfortable and embarrassed we do this because we seek acceptance from the society we simply follow all these unwritten rules without asking questions because social norms play a major role in our development in society.

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This experiment required me to break a social norm the norm that I broke is when in public you should not stand close enough to a stranger in order to avoid invading their personal space. We go about our days in society personal space is appreciated and is expected according to the unwritten rule that everyone follows when you encounter a stranger. So because of this experiment instead of respecting a stranger’s personal space for that one afternoon, I invaded it. I did this at my local supermarket I went in and started walking the aisles as everyone was shopping for their weeks ahead I approach a few shoppers telling them that I am lost and in need of directions because my phone died and I am new to the area with very little idea of how to get home without a GPS. As I was asking them questions and the stranger started to give me directions I started to move closer and closer up to them while keeping eye contact with them and making sure I kept a straight face with as few expressions as possible so as to not give myself away. Before leaving my house that day I had to talk myself down from all the negative thoughts going through my head because I knew breaking this social norm would not be an easy task and can lead to someone becoming so angry that they result in violence. After I left my house and got to my local supermarket, I was feeling so nervous I walked in and started to look at people in the store judging their expressions and emotions before going up to them. I went up to an older woman and told her that I was lost, and asked if she can help me with some directions as she was talking I walked closer and closer to her when she noticed what I was doing she asked me if I was okay and if I needed a hug. I was so shocked that her reaction was what it was because I expected her to say something harsh or even look at me weird. I continued doing this to a few people in the supermarket all of who had very different reactions. One of them looked at me like I was crazy and just walked away without saying anything, another person cursed at me and said that I should be thrown out of the store. Sometimes the reactions were quite harsh and other times it was subtle. Everyone reacted differently because I broke a norm that was rather personal invading a person’s personal bubble a thing that a lot of people don’t do well with. Society doesn’t know how to react to something that is not normal in their everyday lives which is why some reacted with anger and weird looks because it was out of the ordinary and they thought I was crazy. I left before someone resulted in physical abuse and at this point, I was so scared with people yelling at me and giving me looks.

In conclusion, without this experiment, I wouldn’t have imagined people’s reactions to being what they were I expected a lot more subtle looks and weird faces. But the norm that I broke in this experience was a lot more personal and some people don’t do well with personal invasion. If everyone in society went around not following these unwritten rules of society it will create confusion people wouldn’t know how to act in different situations because that would be changing the rules, we as humans are always looking to the next person for reinforcement approval for our behaviors. We follow social norms to prevent chaos in the world and to avoid the consequences that follow breaking them from society.

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Breaking Social Norms Essay. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 6, 2023, from
“Breaking Social Norms Essay.” Edubirdie, 27 Sept. 2022,
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Breaking Social Norms Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 27 [cited 2023 Jun 6]. Available from:
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