A Social Experiment Showing the Significance of Social Norms

From the moments we are children, the usage of “please and thank you” is thoroughly socialized and internalized from a young age. Everything from asking for food, to asking for favors from a friend, saying “please and thank” you is an important part of being a member of society. Not doing so as a child results in disciple and reiteration until the child no longer needs to be told to say, “please and thank you”. As we grow older, the expectation to say, “please and thank you” should be ingrained in our heads through years of socialization through our primary groups. To break this rule would be considered rude as an adult. If someone fails to say thank you then the result as a scowled face, a mean glare, or perhaps even an unpleasant comment. My plan is rather simple and direct, If I ask for something I will omit the usage of “please and thank you”, when accepting something I will not say “thank you”, or when given a nice gesture I will not say “thank you”. For the purpose of this experiment I will be focusing on the usage of “thank you” since “please” can be said in a variety of different ways depending on the context i.e. “may I, can I, would it be possible, can you do me a favor, could you, is it okay if, etc.”

I expect the omittance of these words to have a subtle but noticeable impact on strangers but an even more profound impact with my family and friends who know me well. I think with strangers they may not even notice that I don’t say thank you especially when it comes to buying things from the cashier which I typically will always say “thank you”. Depending on the context I think most strangers will not notice if I say, “thank you”. But on the other hand, my family may not notice at first but I anticipate that my mother will be keen to notice first because she is strict when it comes to the usage of “thank you” after ever exchange and interaction. The reason I think my mother will react first is because my mom has been the main proponent of the “please

and thank you” rule therefore it would seem likely that she will be the first to notice because she may feel directly responsible for my manners.

So on the first day of the experiment, I knew that it would only be a matter of time before I would have the opportunity to try out this social experiment. At PLU fellow students are constantly holding the door for people behind them as a kind gestures to make college life just a bit easier. I often hold the door for others so that they don’t have to essentially reopen the door because it’s a lot easier to keep it open, it’s like a domino effect as one person holds the door for the next and so on. So, when the eventual person holds the door for me I didn’t say thank you at all and as I was expecting, it didn’t elicit much of a reaction. People just walked on like nothing really happened. When I got home I knew that this was where I knew I would get actual results because I am with the people who know me best. Dinner time comes around it is my family’s norm to give thanks for the food. Even before I sat down to the dinner table I was already a bit nervous because I could not anticipate the reaction of my parents, especially my mother. Eventually food comes around and I just start eating casually. Soon enough my mom asks me, “aren’t you forgetting something?” and I reply with “no I don’t think so”. Finally, my mom said “You know that’s quite rude to forget your manners at the table”. I felt quite embarrassed even it was just the family at the table.

For

my social deviance experiment I had a rather hard time thinking about what to do. I had trouble trying to come up with something that I would be willing to do. Unfortunately for this experiment, I don’t like to deviate from the social norms of society, that just means that my primary group has done a good job at socializing me. The main issue was that I was uncomfortable with the idea being a social deviant. So, I decided that I would do something that I knew I could commit to. Eventually I got the idea that I would just have to tweak my everyday

interactions just slightly to become a social deviant. My experiment while simplistic resulted in

this norm

quite a range of responses. My social deviance was an informal type of deviance. Informal Social deviance is generally an unwritten rule that society accepts as normal behaviors. By violating have realized that there are entire areas of our lives that can be seen through the sociological lense if only we take a look closer at why things are the way they are and why many things are not natural behavior but socially constructed. Anything and everything in-between can been seen though the sociological lense. This experiment was a learning moment about how important social norms are to everyday life and when we deviate, there may be some unintended

consequences.

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