Monday, April 25, 2011

My Breaking Social Norms Experiment

It has been a very long time since I have posted anything new but I have been busy with breaking social norms, school, work, and dating. Back in January I had the idea of doing a social experiment by breaking social norms and taking note of people's reactions. This exciting idea came to me when my boyfriend, Chad, jokingly dared me to chug a gallon of milk and have it spill all over my face in the middle of a party and to watch everyone react. We laughed heartily and then I had the epiphany! So, now I am reporting my findings and observations! Enjoy!

Breaking Personal Space

The first test in breaking a person's personal space is sitting closely right next to someone when there are plenty of empty tables and chairs around. When I sat next to the person without looking or glancing his or her way and pretending nothing odd was happening, I noticed through the corner of my eye that the person was very uncomfortable and weirded out. It was quite funny.

The second personal space experiment I performed was walking closely next to someone on campus and in sync with him or her. This was the funniest to me by far. The person tried to walk a little faster to lose me but when the person realized that I just followed his pace, he or she just slowed down to their normal pace while most likely wishing they would reach their destination sooner. Ha ha!

Conclusion: People are very fond and protective of their personal bubble unless they are with their significant other or close friend. If anyone else invades that space, especially a complete stranger, then they grow uncomfortable or antsy and try to move away to create a new personal bubble of comfort.

Elevator Etiquette

While waiting in the elevator to reach your desired floor, which way do you face? That's right. You face the front toward the doors. What if you face the wall or even the corner instead??? This was a pretty fun social experiment as well. I completely went out of my way after class to take the elevators up and down just for the sole purpose of this experiment. I went to an elevator and waited with another guy for an elevator and when it arrived, I made a bee line toward the corner and stood facing the corner. Of course, during this time I could not see the guy's reaction but when the elevator reached the first stop I turned around quickly to leave and I noticed the guy quickly look the other way as if he were staring at me that entire time. Then while I was waiting for another elevator to go back down and get a bigger sample size, another guy came to the elevator to wait as well and he casually asked me where I was visiting in the building and I was tempted to say, "Oh, absolutely nothing. I just wanted to ride the elevator." But I decided that I had done enough strange acts for that day. ;)

Conclusion: We expect everyone to follow the crowd and conform when it comes to standing in the elevator. We expect all passengers to face the front since that is where the doors are located and where we will be exiting and any person standing in any different direction or position makes us question that person's sanity.

The Library...a Quiet Place?

I actually performed this experiment a few years ago in a group. They sent me in the Periodicals of the library where I made lots of noise, such as sniffing, slamming books, clicking and tapping my pen, and clearing my throat. My group actually feared for my life because some students were getting angry and annoyed. One girl actually *huffed* and *puffed* and left. Other people were staring at me and one guy was actually laughing.

Conclusion: Students take their study time in the library VERY seriously and some may find it funny or strange when someone is obliviously making lots of noise or talking but others may get very angry and give you looks that may inherently kill you. The take home message from this experiment is to never break the tranquility of the library, especially when surrounded by grade-hungry students.

Living in a Musical World

For this last experiment I did not actually perform anything but instead took note of other students. In the performing arts and visual arts building on campus (the HFAC is its BYU nickname), there are plenty of silly and odd students meandering the halls. I sat down with my laptop "doing homework" and took note of students in the halls. I discovered many students singing and rehearsing lines to themselves with absolutely no fear of people staring at them. I also noticed band and orchestra students silently playing and humming their instrument to themselves. Students in the HFAC are completely in their own world. It is fantastic.

Well, there you have it. My little social experiment that completely made my day every time I got to observe people's reactions when a little piece of their world was turned upside down. :) I suggest looking for little social norms that society just nonchalantly accepts and just see what happens if you break it. It will bring you much amusement and joy in your day.

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