Brenda Mora 4 October 2011 SOC 101-3003 Norm Violation Exercise The norm violation exercise that I decided to experiment with was invasion of space. My plan was to go up to random people in small groups of three or four and ask one of them for help, thank them, hug them, and walk away; my friend thought it sounded like fun so he volunteered to perform the encounters. If somebody I didn’t know came up and hugged me for no apparent reason I would most likely think they were either weird or drunk. For this reason I decided to do this particular experiment.
Most of the people my friend hugged did not react in the way I predicted. I decided to carry out the experiment at the Wal-Mart on Charleston and Decatur since it’s close to where we both live and it is never scarce in people. We enacted the experiment in different sections of the store since there were more dense amounts of people in certain areas. The areas where we performed the experiment were in the electronics department, the home decorations department, the food section, and the cash register section.
The electronics department had plenty of people, males in particular, I was especially eager to see the feedback of the men in this section since my friend is a guy. The home decorations department had plenty of females; the food and cash register sections had a mixture of both genders. The first person we approached was a male Wal-Mart sales associate arranging phone displays in the electronics department. We both went up to him and my friend asked him where the exercising equipment was located, he responded and pointed us in the direction, as I walked my friend thanked him and gave him a big bear hug.
The sales associate let my friend hug him, patted his back, laughed, and starred at us in an awkward manner as we left. He didn’t have much reaction to my friend hugging him. It didn’t seem to have bothered him, as soon as we left he simply returned to his work. The second encounter involved a man with his wife and son and what seemed to be one of their friends or relative which also occurred in the electronics department. My friend went up to them as I stood behind a magazine rack and he asked the woman’s husband if he could point him in the direction of the clothing department.
The man gave my friend directions and just as he was returning to the conversation between his friend and wife, my friend quickly put his arms around the slightly large man and embraced him for about three seconds before he let go, thanked him, and walked away. As my friend walked away I noticed the man simply and quickly returned to his conversation as if nothing had happened. His wife and friend starred at my friend as he walked away and laughed as if they still couldn’t believe what had just happened.
The third and fourth group of people that we encountered took place in the home decorations section of the store. Both groups were all women; one group consisted of two women and the other group of three young women. The first group of two women seemed to have been a mother and a middle aged daughter, my friend approached the women and asked for their opinion on an item, the daughter answered him but before she could go back to her business he hugged her, I noticed a frightened expression on her face and my friend told me he noticed she held on to her mother’s arm as he hugged her.
The second group of women were also asked for their opinion on a Halloween decoration, the girl told my friend what she thought and before she could get back to her business he hugged her. One of the two girls with her asked her if she knew him and the other girl laughed and starred at my friend, the girl herself couldnt believed it and she even blushed a bit.
The fifth and sixth encounter took place in the food and cash register section with a distinct group of people; the first was a family of three consisting of a husband, wife and child and the second of two female Wal-Mart sales associates surrounded by people in line waiting to pay for their groceries. The family of three were choosing their food when my friend approached the husband and asked him if he could reach something from the top shelf for him since he was exceedingly tall, the man gladly agreed and my friend thanked him and quickly hugged him.
The wife laughed while the child took no notice and as my friend walked away the man stopped him and said “Your welcome, man”, this was the first time anybody had responded to his action. The second group of females at the cash register were helping customers when my friend approached them and asked for help, one of them gave him directions and began about her business when he hugged her, she laughed and went back to what she was doing.
However, her co-worker did not approve and gave my friend a cold stare as he walked away, the people waiting in line laughed for three seconds, gave a few stares, and went back to their business. The last group of people were two males, an older and younger brother who were testing out video games in the electronics section. My friend walked up, stood next to them and asked for their opinion on a video game, the older boy answered my friend and as soon as he finished my friend hugged him and quickly walked away.
As he walked away I observed the younger boys face which expressed how much he couldn’t believe it, the older boy didn’t laugh at first but then he came around, shook his head, laughed and walked away. My friend said that as he hugged the boy he went stiff and said “whoa”, as if he tried to tell him to back off, but no words could come out. This boys reaction was my favorite because the expression on his face said let me go but at the same time he seemed scared as if my friend would hurt him if he said anything.
This experiment was interesting because of all of the different reactions that I saw. I did not expect for most of the reactions to result in the same way. I hoped for somebody to speak up and ask what my friend’s problem was but nobody seemed to care much. The only reactions that truly caught my attention were the three females where one of them blushed and the group with the older and younger brother where the older brother tried to speak up but couldn’t. Besides a few cold stares, there were no severe consequences.