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Breaking Social Norms

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Sara Zemanovic

on 11 December 2013

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Transcript of Breaking Social Norms

For our group's breaching experiment, we decided to break one of the major social norms of shopping, specifically in regards to the use of a shopping cart.
We first set out to observe how people act toward their shopping cart. We chose Wal-Mart as the store for our experiment.
Did You Know?
The first shopping cart was created in 1937 by a man named Sylvan Goldman. He was the owner of an Oklahoma Piggly Wiggly grocery store!
Breaking Social Norms with Regard to the Use of a Shopping Cart
Sara Zemanovic
Hali Priest
Natalie Arenz
Jen Lamers
Tiffany Gately
Sydney de Santis
For our first round of experimenting, we planned to approach a shopper who had their back to their cart and begin rummaging through their items. Once they noticed, we would act as though we did not know the cart belonged to them, and say something along the lines of, "Oh I'm sorry, is this your cart?"
We observed that most people
tend to stick to themselves
and act as if their shopping cart
is their own personal space.
However, we wanted to test people's
limits and see how they would react
when we attempted to shop from their
personal shopping cart.
We believe that when people see us
browsing through their cart, they will be
surprised and confused. Once we apologize
and ask if the cart belongs to them, they will
give a short and firm response, showing that they do not approve of our behavior.
Experiment One
The first try didn't work so well...
It was too unomfortable!
He wasn't too happy with us!
This poor lady was so confused!
Results: Experiment One
Two groups of people:
Older women-nicer
Younger women-less understanding
Not enough men at Wal-Mart to produce any firm results
Stare at us
Others started avoiding us
For the second round of experimenting, we tried to change things up. This time, when people noticed us looking through their carts, we asked them if we could take an item from them. We did this rather than simply apologizing and walking away.
Results: Experiment Two
Types of Reactions:
"No, there's more over there..."
"Um, sure?"
What Does This Mean?
Some people proved our hypothesis to be true-they responded rudely and seemed annoyed
Others surprised us-they were nice about the situation and sometimes even seemed amused
Different people will have different reactions

Why Different Reactions?
People don't know how to react because it is a situation they have never encountered before
Absolutists and relativists exist in society
So What...?
This experiment taught us that social norms make every aspect of life, even something as simple as shopping, very predictable
Thanks to social norms, shoppers can quickly go to a store and get what they need without being disturbed
We found that when people do break social norms, which we did, society becomes disrupted
People breaking the social norms are labeled as deviant and received negatively by society
Knowing that we were breaking social norms made us incredibly uncomfortable
Although this project was a great learning experience, shopping from other people's carts is not something any of us hope to do in the future!
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