Breaking a norm is like an experiment. You are never going to know what the outcome is going to be. A lot of sociologist like to see it as a social experiment, and the reason is because people are living their life what is considered the right way. It’s a mimicry, everyone doing the same thing, following the same rules, avoiding everything that is not considered normal, usual, typical, and even standard. For my social experiment, I decided that my norm violation would be saying “I love you” when ending a conversation.
The objective of my experiment was to break a norm that would help me study how people would react to something that is not usually said is being said to them. I knew it would not only make people uncomfortable, but I think this would be a good experiment while making a point. I wanted to show people that there is no such thing as saying the wrong thing just because people don’t say it often. The subjects of my study consisted of everyone I had a conversation with; for example, friends, strangers, professors, etc. The experiment took place everywhere. It wasn’t an experiment that only consisted in one setting.
The places that I violated the norm more often was in a classroom, my dorm, and the cafeteria. I enjoyed breaking the norm inside the cafeteria the most. It was very hilarious and awkward to see the reaction of all the workers, and other students. These choices of setting and subjects are good ones for sociological study because I feel that most people would rather experiment breaking a norm that would cause chaos, I think making people feel awkward and uncomfortable could also be a good experiment to see how people react since people are so used to sharing the same vocabulary restrictions.
My objective for the violation of my norm wasn’t to cause any chaos nor problems, it was to see the reaction of people when something that is not usually said is being said to them. There was some trouble while breaking the norm, but not serious trouble where I got into a fight with people, but some people are very serious about the three words “I love you” and how they are being used. At the beginning I didn’t expect any kind of response from people, but now that my experiment has come to end, I’ve come to the conclusion that I was incorrect and I’ve learned a lot from a simple task.
The kind of trouble I expected to come across throughout my experiment was to make people uncomfortable and as a result, they staying away from me, but some people actually questioned me on why I had just told them I loved them. Some people thought it was funny and said it back, and some people went into detail on how saying “I love you” to someone should be because it’s meant. No one got angry, but they sure did feel awkward and uncomfortable. When I would go to class I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to tell a professor I loved them since it could of even be seen as disrespectful.
I decided to still break the norm with them too since I was doing a social experiment. My professors looked at me extremely weird and didn’t talked to me for the rest of the class. I talked to them after class and told them I was doing an experiment on breaking a social norm to see how people reacted after saying something that they are not used. They all thought it was funny and a good idea. I thought it was interesting on how all three professors reacted the same way. I have four professors, but only did it to three since I didn’t break the norm with professor Wagner.
My sociology was is too big and I am always focused on listening to the lecture that I always forgot. Therefore, the trouble I came across with wasn’t something that was hard to confront; actually enjoyed it. Everything is possible during an experiment. Throughout my experiment no one got hurt physically nor psychologically, but someone could of gotten hurt if something started a fight because they got so offended or upset over me telling them | love them. The feasible solution over someone getting upset is to explain the purpose and apologizing to them.
Like I’ve said, this social experiment is not to cause problems. That was never my hypothesis, and I am glad this social experiment was safe to accomplish. The people that were involved in my experiment were not voluntary. Even if I wanted to ask someone to be part of my experiment, I couldn’t because that would’ve ruined my experiment. They wouldn’t of have reacted sincerely because they would’ve known what the purpose of the experiment was. There wasn’t another solution to this because I really wanted this experiment to be honest and successful.
Everyone was clueless on why I was telling them I loved them. That was the whole purpose of this study. At the beginner’s mind I was in helped me realize the importance of breaking a norm. It’s not always what’s expected, but to lead your own way of the journey of your own life, regardless of the stuff you have to do or say. That is why making people part of my experiment made it more interesting and realistic. This experiment was worth the time and the embarrassing and awkward moments. The outcome was an important lesson, not only for me, but for the people that were part of the experiment.
If I were to carry out this study the benefits that would be obtained for the disciplines of sociology or anthropology would be the results of how people respond unusual phrases such as “I love you”. It doesn’t take anything to be done to break the common living standard people have, it can also be something that it’s said. Overall, I feel that the expected benefits of the research are greater than the expected costs. When I first started my experiment everything was so odd. Everything was hard for me because I am also used to following to what is considered normal in people’s point of view.
It took two weeks for me to violate the norm more often. At the beginning, I would tell people I loved them three times. I started off with my roommate since I’m always with her, then someone in class and the last person would be someone I knew. Their reactions were very obvious because they always tried to ignore it. My roommate was the first one to be straightforward about it, but she didn’t tell me anything till the third time I told her | loved her. She told me she felt very unconformable and she didn’t appreciate me being so open with her.
I couldn’t keep a serious face so I told her about the experiment I was doing, and then she also started laughing. She told me to still not tell her | love her because it’s still made her feel weird. I ignored her and kept telling her I loved her after each conversation we had. After I while she got used to it and didn’t say anything about it; like if it was something normal. After two weeks I felt more comfortable violating the norm with more people. I started telling more people I loved them. Some ignored it, but they would give me a weird look while trying to start a fresh conversation or while they walked away.
Four people actually asked me why I had just told them I loved them. The interesting part is that they don’t know each other and three of them were males and one was a female. Two guys asked me if I had a boyfriend because if I did me telling other guys I loved them wasn’t okay. After I told them I was single they asked me why did I loved them, I thought that was extremely funny. Specially because I didn’t know them. I met one at the cafeteria and the other one at the library. After seeing how interested they were about me telling them I loved them I told them about the social experiment I was doing.
They thought it was funny, we actually became friends. The third guy just asked me why I loved him and I responded “because you’re a beautiful human being”, he laughed and said nice to meet you. We also became friends. The girl that asked me why I told her I loved her said to me “before you say anything I’m not lesbian” I was really amused because I wasn’t flirting with her for her to think I actually liked her and loved her. I was the one feeling more awkward I have to admit. I told her it was a social experiment | was doing in my sociology class and apologized, she said “oh okay cool” and walked away.
That was one of the most awkward situations I was put in throughout the experiment. When I broke the social norm with my professors it was awkward for me too, but they didn’t make it obvious. I asked a question when they were walking around and everyone else was working on their assignments or I would go up to their desk and ask them a question, after they explained the assignment to me, I would say thank you I love you and just walk back to my seat or they would just walk away. I thought it was interesting how they all decided to ignore what I had just said.
After class I did justified myself and explain the reason why I had told them I love you. They thought it was funny and just said to not do it anymore. Some people are nice, goofy, and open minded. Throughout my experiment some people also reacted very cool to what I had just told them. They would even say I love you back and move on to another conversation or walked away of it was before leaving our separate ways. I didn’t know most of the people and they still decided to go along with what I had just said. I thought that was amazing.
I think it all depends the in culture you were raised because some people have a more liberal life, their minds are more open than others and that is okay. There is nothing wrong with that. That was my conclusion on how people react when something unusual is said to them. Most people ignored it and looked at me weird, there was that still small percent that questioned me, and that went along with Thad just said. If I were to put them in order it would be; people feeling awkward and ignored me, people going along with what Thad just said and people that questioned me.
The ethnomethodological conclusion I can make from my experiment is that people are so used to expecting certain things from people that when those exceptions are broken people feel uncomfortable and awkward, but the more years go by the more things people are being exposed to and things that weren’t normal are now normal. I think that’s why some people didn’t react awkwardly, because maybe they have been exposed to other things that other people. It can be because of their culture, or the friends they have now that have changed the way they think and their lifestyle.
For example, I’ve been exposed to a lot of things this semester. Things that are not okay at home, but now that I am here in college, I’ve learned how to have an open mind because there’s a lot of diversity everywhere we go to. For me when I first moved to CSUCI there were a lot of norms that were broken, I felt intimidated and uncomfortable, but now I’m more grow up and I’m excited to learn a lot more. It’s okay to break norms in order to live life as longest there is not law being broken. That is another thing I learned throughout this experiment.
This experiment was very interesting. I have never done an experiment like this one. I’ve learned so much about human behavior and about how norms can be broken. There is no such thing as saying or doing the wrong thing if it’s just socially constructed. If it’s not a law, there is no reason why people should follow that certain rule. I feel like I have succeeded with my experiment and I am happy with my results. It was a learning experience while having fun. I wouldn’t mind doing it again.