Norm Violation: the rules that a group uses for appropriate and inappropriate values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors

Social norms are the behavioral expectations and cues within a society or group. This sociological term has been defined as “the rules that a group uses for appropriate and inappropriate values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. These rules may be explicit or implicit. Failure to follow the rules can result in severe punishments, including exclusion from the group. In the field of social psychology, a breaching experiment is an experiment that seeks to examine people’s reactions to violations of commonly accepted social norms. Breaching experiments are most commonly associated with ethnomethodology and in particular the work of Harold Garfinkel, therefore the breaching experiment is sometimes referred to as “Garfinkeling.” They have also been described as the “customary rules of behavior that coordinate our interactions with others.

For this week’s writing assignment you will conduct a “breaching experiment,” by violating a social norm.

Ground rules:
  1. Do not get arrested, expelled, fired from your job, hurt, or die (you or anyone else)!
  2. No norm violations are to be done at Ashland University that will get you (or me) in trouble
  3. Have fun!
  4. Write a 2 to 3 page paper in APA format
  5. Violate a norm that is abnormal for you.
  6. If you do not want to violate the norm yourself, you can have someone violate the norm for you, as you observe.
  7. Write about your environment, the norm being violated, how you violate the norm and people’s reaction to your breaching experiment.
  8. Do your research, cite what is not common knowledge using APA style in text citations and reference page.
  9. Draw conclusions about our culture based on your findings
  10. Use the following outline (Actually used the bold sub headings as sub headings in your paper)
  • Statement of the Problem
    • Describe briefly how this norm acts as a mechanism of social control.
    • Define the norm you will violate.
    • Describe what you will do to violate the norm.
  • Hypothesis
    • What are the indipendent and dependent variables being studied?
    • Describe the range of possible reactions others will have to the violation of this norm.
    • What do you predict the major reaction will be?
  • Setting
    • Physical—where is the norm violation-taking place?
    • Social—How many and what types of persons are observing?
  • Results
    • Summary and Interpretation
    • Did people react the way you expected?
    • Did you encounter any difficulties in carrying out your assignment?
    • What, if anything, did you learn about how norms exercise social control?
    • How did you feel as you were violating the norm?
    • Any other pertinent observations.
    • Draw conclusions based on your findings, reference sociological theory from the textbook and scholarly sources.


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