Note: You only need to complete ONE of the two lab choices for Chapter 13 on Social Psychology. If you don't feel comfortable doing the "social norm violation lab" described below (which really does take some guts!), opt to complete the alternative "Stanford Prison Study lab" also listed on the course content page.
Lab-9: Social Norm Violation Lab (13 points)
Two of the topics discussed in the Social Psychology chapter (Chapter 16) in the text are obedience and conformity to social norms. Obedience and conformity differ in that obedience involves an authority figure directly demanding you to change your behavior, whereas conformity involves often unspoken social pressure from a group to fit in and not be different in order to avoid being rejected by the group.
Whether you know it or not, you are subtly, yet powerfully pressured by your peers to conform and behave in certain ways and not others every single day of your life. If you violate a norm, the consequences are seemingly small. For instance, if you tell the person behind you in the grocery checkout line "I have diarrhea today," you won't go to jail for it. Or if you walk up to a total stranger in a mall and ask for $10 and offer no reason other than "I just need $10," you will not be given a costly fine. Of if you sit down at the same table, or in the seat right next to a total stranger in an otherwise uncrowded Taco Bell restaurant, it won't cost you your home or car. And yet, most of us are terrified to do such seemingly simple things (like sitting close to a stranger) for fear of rejection by society. What's so bad about that? As you can see, this is exactly the point of this activity.
The purpose of this lab activity is to engage the student in observations and activities which heighten awareness of conformity to social norms.
Create a list of ten (10) simple social rules or norms in addition to the three listed in the introduction above (for example, "Don't sit next to strangers in restaurants."). Then, pick at least three of the 13 norms (your 10 + my 3) to actually go out and violate in a public setting. Then just do it!
I fully understand that this is not an easy activity for most to do. I am trusting you on the honor of your word that you did, in fact, complete this activity.
Here are a few ground rules for this activity:
- Violate your three norms in a public setting, in the clear presence of others.
- Your audience should be made up of strangers, not friends and relatives.
- Don't do anything illegal, dangerous, unethical or anything that might really get you in trouble like asking a highly sexually provocative question of a stranger or stealing from a store.
- Avoid simply doing "crazy behavior" like rolling around on the floor at the grocery store. Rather, choose behaviors that are not just crazy, but violate social rules like asking a stranger in line at the bank a very personal question like "how many times have you been married?"
- Unless you really get into some trouble, try to avoid rationalizing the violation after doing it. That is, unless you really need it to get out of trouble, avoid saying "This is just an experiment I'm doing for my psychology class."
Answer the following questions and submit them using the Blackboard/CE6 assignment drop box for this project. Remember, be thorough when answering the discussion questions in order to help ensure a higher score.
- List the 10 social norms you outlined before completing the activity.
- Which three did you actually violate in a public setting?
- Briefly explain what happened in each of the three norm violations. How did you do it and what reaction did others seemed to have?
- Overall, how did you feel before, during and after violating the social norms?
- Which of the three was the hardest for you to violate, which was the easiest? Explain why.
- Did you feel yourself wanting to explain or rationalize your behavior to your audience?
- Explain what you learned from completing this activity.
- Additional comments?