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Reactions to Social Norm Violation Essay

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Updated: Mar 22nd, 2022

We have a number of societal norms that govern day-to-day actions and reactions. Common norms involve use of he elevator. We understand that it is apparent that one should face the front, avoid distracting others by standing a side and should not look obnoxiously or stare to other users. According to Sharma and Malhotra (2007), breaking norms may cause others to respond inversely depending on the involved psychological irritation, for instance people might laugh, display fear or show apprehension and emotional irritation.

People in the society have to survey and decide on the norms. After studying my social setting, I decided to engage a common norm violation of dressing weird out in the public.

Some people will violate the norm incautiously, therefore it may seem a normal occurrence to many but the circumstances, time, and location settings determines the conclusion. My feasibility study assisted in deciding what to consider, when and where. I resolve to have a strange wear during my outing with close friends and find out their reactions and my response.

The plan was to wear bright but colour-clashing pants and shirt. A choose cloths that appeared more of private nighties than open and commonly acceptable cloths in public. The top was a bright light-green shirt while the pants were bright pink in colour. I was an easily identifiable person within a crowd from a mile. My friends and I were to go out for a movie and later for a dance until late into the night.

I organized with my friend to pick me up and I could instantly note million questions on the face but failed to enquire, probably to avoid hurting my feelings. I did feel awkward and had brought a pair of cloths with me just in case I might not be in a position to carry on until the end of the outing.

We met other friends after a couple of minutes drive. While the talks and engagements appeared usual, I noted that the five friends including my date kept staring and passing signals behind my back without saying a word to me. At the ticketing queue, I noted more stares and murmurs from other people especially those behind us. One comment was that I was probably playing a “dare game”.

At this point, I wanted to tell everyone that this was an assignment, but you do not leave the theatre when the movie is at climax, so I kept cool without discerning the stares until we got into the auditorium. The whispers were louder as I walked down the auditorium, and I was cursing why my friends could not take the back seats. I thought that since no one including my friends was raising questions, suggestions or concerns, they only ought had to accept me for what I chose.

In line with Lindsey and Beach (2002), norm is the standard value acceptable within a group such as the social norm. Some thoughts, behaviours and feelings are therefore acceptable as appropriate within a certain group while they are intolerable to another, for instance weird clothing styles or nudity. My dress code might have been acceptable if the outing was to a cultural night or hallowing party but the setting was very different.

The main problem was my inability to go on without feeling odd; I therefore had to change to a more suitable wear before the night party. I felt that breaking some social norms might hurt feelings and possibly break relationships.

No sooner had I changed than my friends got a reassurance and started commenting. One observation was a friend’s next plan to have a situation that would cancel the night dance because of my appearance. Their questioning forced my reveal that it was a school project for phycology. The reactions were laughter, mimics, and comic comparisons.

One common association of the look was to a clown. Initially I felt some insecurity over their reactions and responses. People will easily judge a person they are not close to as opposed to their close associates. I expected judgemental reactions in form of comments from everyone but this only came from strangers as opposed to the friends. The difficulties were to ignore the silent reactions of my friends. The test was a reassurance that they are great friends who are sensitive to my feelings and ready to accept me for whom I am.


Lindsey, L and Beach, S. (2002). Sociology. 3RD Edition. New York, NY: Pearson Publishers. Print.

Sharma, A and Malhotra, D. (2007). Personality and Social Norms. New Delhi: India, Concept Publishing Company. Print.

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