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SOC101 Introduction to Sociology

Published : 14-Oct,2021  |  Views : 10



This assignment asks you to violate a norm and write a report about the experience. The objective of the research is to determine the extent to which norms influence behavior and how norm violation is perceived in our society. Thus, you will pay particular attention to the reactions of both youself and others who are part of the situation.

This assignment involves core concepts that you find in Chapter 3, 4, 5, and 7. Make sure that you have reviewed these chapters before writing your final report.

Before you begin the assignment, be certain you study the following guidelines:

1. Select a norm common in our society. Be sure it is a folkway and not a more.
2. Before you enter the field to do your research, be certain you filled out parts 1 and 2 of the write-up (see the format outlined below). This will help to ensure that you have a firm grasp of your hypothesis in advance.
3. Break the norm in a social setting, Observe the reactions of others and yourself, and record as quickly as possible those reactions
a. Vary the conditions. Do your experiments at least twice under different conditions (e.g. place, time, audience).
b. Violate the norm in a social setting. It does not count if you wear your clothes backwards in your closet.
c. Reactions. Pay attention to both verbal and nonverbal reactions.
4a. Break any law or cause anyone else to break the law. b. Cause harm to yourself or anyone (including animals) else. c. Do anything that is illegal or morally questionable, or that could bring negative sanctions to you, the sociology department, the university, or your instructor.


1. Statement of the problem

The norm I will violate.

Many people have a personal space that they do not like to be violated. I would also include myself in this category. When one meets people that you are familiar with, the first thing would be to greet them and share their hands. The social norm which I intend to violate is handshake norms. I put this into test to see how I felt and how others reacted on the situation.

How the norm helped determine how I act in social setting.

As I experienced this ordeal, I became hard pressed to make eye contact with anybody. I possibly could not take a look at a person directly at first, and I merely relied on my peripheral vision. This norm helped me to gain courage when I was within a social setting. Am a shy individual but through this experience I have gained courage especially when interacting with others.

What I did to violate the norm.

With the handshake norm, I put it under some examination to see precisely how I felt and just how others reacted. At first, i experimented on people who I recognized and arbitrary people that I met for the very first time. Generally, I would certainly introduce myself and offer to shake their hands, or perhaps to say hi and stick my hands out. Within this norm, I would certainly attempt my level best never to let go the hands of the stranger until the dialogue was done. Initially, it was hard to act comfortably and come up with points which I could ask the strangers, and at the same time observing their behavior. After some practice with few strangers it became easier to approach others.

2. Hypothesis

Range of reactions the others will have towards the violation of the norm

The common reaction which occurred when I violated on this norm was that the most we looking around them to see if there was anyone else was there since they thought it was a little strange I did not let their hand go. There was also stare look which came in my way from the other people who were around.

Most common reaction that will occur

The most common reaction which will occur is that many people around us looked in dismay on what was happening and they were curious to know what I was doing. Additionally, the people I held their hands looked around for information in regards to conformity or for perceived emergency from the others. It had been very difficult for a few to possibly concentrate on the conversation I had been attempting to have with them and some perhaps forcefully pulled their hands away (Raymond. etl, 2014). When individuals are subjected to a given situation they try to look around them to seek for information such as who will help them, or whether others know what is happening (Piskorski and Gorbatai, 2013).

3. Description of the setting.


This norm took place at the Café outlet in our school. My roommate and I possibly could not find time to get together and do it, therefore, I did it on my very own without a camera. I positioned myself near at the entrance of the café at the college and hand shake people who are entering in the café.  


The school Café has many individuals who enters ranging from the students, tutors and the cooks. During the violation of my norm, there were many people who were observing. I remember my classmate were there, the school tutors, and there were some exchange students who had come from other colleges to benchmark on how we did our things. It was also during the lunch break time when I violated this norm of shaking hands with every stranger, who entered the Café.

4. Description of the incident.

I decided to violate the handshake norm at the college café. It was on Monday, after a long weekend and on this day I decided to do a crazy thing and see the reaction of others. I walked to the café and decided that every person who enters I will shake their hands and see their reaction. At first I did it with few people I knew, to gather the courage to approach strangers. At first I got cold reception and some did not stretch their hands to greet me. At the time I was also shy and I did not look many at the eyes and this later I concluded was one cause that led to some assuming me. After some practices I was able to handshake a quiet number of people (Mu, Kitayama, Han and Gelfand, 2015). The reaction which I got was overwhelming from this experience. Some people looked around to see if others were looking, some even tried to forcefully pull my hand away. Others did not even concentrate on the conversation I had been attempting to have with them.

Summary and Interpretation

How I felt violating the norm

I felt happy to violate this social norm. It was fun in during this new thing I had never thought of doing. Nonetheless, it was not fun in case I was the one receiving the same experiment. This experience has made me to realize that I have norms which are imbedded firmly within myself as much as I try to be open minded.

Why I felt the way I did

I felt embarrassed because this experiment elicited on the behavior which revoked emotions in the first place. Shaking hands with complete stranger and holding their hands until you have conversation with them can be embarrassing especially when you do not know what you will discuss. It was difficult weird to break this social norm. The strange emotions were much more common to what was occurring and rather the particular act which I was doing.

Reaction of people

The reaction I received from the others, was expected. It is expected for individual to be curious and even react differently with a stranger. Some assuming greeting of a stranger is expected and it also seemed awkward to them shaking hands of a stranger (Elster, 2000).

Difficulties carrying the assignment

It was difficult in a number of ways; some people did harmless rude things such as glances which is felt uncomfortable. Another difficult was assumption I received from some strangers. Some people did not want to greet nor handshake me. I felt a bit embarrassed on this issue since I was doing this not by choice.

Deviance theory to describe public reactions

The deviance theory that describe the public reactions is the functionalist theory. Durkheim’s views have examined this aspect in details by highlighting that deviance usually clarifies the social norms and conformity (Blay, Gooden, Mellon and Stevens, 2016). In most of the cases this happens when the discovery along with the punishment of the deviance reminds people of the norms and it reinforces the outcomes of violating it (Ruff, Ugazio and Fehr, 2013).

How norms exercise social control

Social control is exercised through the individuals and it ranges from the peers, school and the workplace (Spitzer, Fischbacher, Herrnberger, Grön and Fehr, 2007). The goal of the social control is to maintain conformity so as to establish the norms and the rules.

The concept of deviance has been perceived in society as the behavior which violates on the social norms and arouses the negative social reaction (Sanfey, Stallen and Chang, 2014). It is regarded as harmful behavior which even the government has enacted on the laws to ban the behavior (Colombo, 2014). The fact that the deviance arouse the negative social reactions remind everybody that each society should make sure that the members obey social norms in most their everyday interaction (Cropanzano, Anthony, Daniels and Hall, 2016). Nonetheless, deviance is normal, it still remain true that some individuals are more likely than the others to commit it. This can be examined by the conflict theory, which is a theoretical orientation emphasizes on the individuals and the social structures. Based on the handshake norm, it is expected that individual shakes hands to the individuals who are aware or the ones who you have been introduced. When one goes greeting everybody it raises a concern and the society would want to know what is going around them.


Blay, A.D., Gooden, E.S., Mellon, M.J. and Stevens, D.E., 2016. The usefulness of social norm theory in empirical business ethics research: A review and suggestions for future research. Journal of Business Ethics, pp.1-16.

Cropanzano, R., Anthony, E., Daniels, S. and Hall, A., 2016. Social exchange theory: A critical review with theoretical remedies. Academy of Management Annals, pp.annals-2015.

Colombo, M., 2014. Caring, the emotions, and social norm compliance. Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics, 7(1), p.33.

Elster, J., 2000. Social norms and economic theory. In Culture and Politics (pp. 363-380). Palgrave Macmillan US.

Mu, Y., Kitayama, S., Han, S. and Gelfand, M.J., 2015. How culture gets embrained: Cultural differences in event-related potentials of social norm violations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(50), pp.15348-15353.

Piskorski, M.J. and Gorbatai, A.D., 2013. Testing Coleman’s social-norm enforcement mechanism: Evidence from Wikipedia.

Raymond, L., Weldon, S.L., Kelly, D., Arriaga, X.B. and Clark, A.M., 2014. Making change: Norm-based strategies for institutional change to address intractable problems. Political Research Quarterly, 67(1), pp.197-211.

Ruff, C.C., Ugazio, G. and Fehr, E., 2013. Changing social norm compliance with noninvasive brain stimulation. Science, 342(6157), pp.482-484. 

Sanfey, A.G., Stallen, M. and Chang, L.J., 2014. Norms and expectations in social decision-making. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 18(4), pp.172-174. 

Spitzer, M., Fischbacher, U., Herrnberger, B., Grön, G. and Fehr, E., 2007. The neural signature of social norm compliance. Neuron, 56(1), pp.185-196.

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