Break-A-Norm Assignment Case Study
Break-A-Norm Assignment (Assignment #2) – Prior Student (A male student!)
1). What implicit norm(s) did you violate? (4 points)
For this social psychology class, we were asked to go out and break a social psychological norm. I chose to break an appearance social norm. I went to K-Mart and bought the most ridiculous thing I could find to wear out in public. While at K-Mart, I found a pink onesie pajama with polka dots, which was perfect. I knew this onesie would be perfect for the experiment because as I paid for it, the cashier gave me a weird look when she saw what I was buying. Although the cashier gave me a weird look, she did not ask why I was buying it. Probably because she wanted to avoid an awkward situation and because she felt like it was none of her business to question me about why I was buying a pink onesie.
2). Describe how you violated it (them). (4 points)
As soon as I bought the pajamas I put them on and went straight to International Mall to walk around. The second I got out of my car and started walking towards the mall I could sense everyone in the parking lot staring at me. I already felt extremely awkward and I had not even entered the mall. This made me want to just get back in my car and leave, but I went in and walked around anyway because I needed this information for this assignment.
3). Analyze your thoughts and feelings while you violated the norm(s). (4 points)
As I walked into the mall, through the food court, I could feel everybody almost instantly stare at me. I felt extremely awkward and embarrassed. As the people around me continued to stare at me I felt out of place. I tried to convince myself that I did not care what these strangers thought about me in order to continue walking around. Although convincing myself that what others thought about me did not matter helped me get through that evening and get the information I needed, deep down I still felt very uncomfortable with the situation I put myself in.
4). Analyze what other people were probably thinking about your violation (4 points)
I thought it was amusing and would to turn to their friends, or whomever they were with, and tell them to look at what I was wearing. Only one person at the mall decided to ask me why I was wearing a pink onesie. While I was at the mall I bought a pretzel and as I tried not to act awkward in my pajamas and the cashier asked me if I had lost a bet or something. I then explained to him that the reason I was wearing the pajamas was because I was doing a social psychology experiment. The cashier seemed intrigued by the experiment and since there was no line behind me I went on to explain to him the details of the experiment and how it revolves around social norms.
5). Did you gain any insight into your own or others’ behavior? What about the power of the situation? (4 points)
The insight I gathered is that I try to avoid awkward situations as much as possible and that putting myself into an uncomfortable situation such as this made me face the horror of being out of place. I actually wanted people to come up to me and ask me why I was wearing a pink onesie out in public, so I could explain to them that this was for an assignment. At least this way people would not think that the only reason I was wearing a onesie is because I was a strange person.
6). Include AT LEAST ONE key social psychological principle in your paper. You may want to include something about role-playing, conformity/nonconformity, normative social influence, cognitive dissonance, self-monitoring, etc. Your choice, but have AT LEAST ONE! (5 points)
The situation I was in brought about conformity among the strangers at the mall. The reason for this is because they thought I was a strange person for going out in public dressed inappropriately. We have to conform to society and dress a certain way while we are out in public in order to fit it with others. The people at the mall knew that I was not wearing appropriate attire for the mall because I was wearing pajamas, which are for sleeping. Of course, I also felt like I was under the spotlight (the spotlight effect). Maybe I thought others were appraising me more than they actually were. Then again, in this situation maybe everyone was actually looking at the crazy guy in the pink onesie!