For this assignment, the norm that I will break is invading personal space. Having personal space is a norm because people do not like to have other people excessively close to them. It makes them uncomfortable. Most people consider someone that they don’t know walking or sitting very closely to them as very discomforting. It is essentially an unspoken rule that you must give people their personal space, at least around a foot. In order to violate this norm, I will get very close to everyone I encounter today, regardless of who they are. I expect this to make those people very uncomfortable. I expect that all or nearly all of the reactions I will receive will be negative. For the people that I have never met, I expect them to possibly use profanity. For the people that I do know, I expect them to give me weird looks and ask what I’m doing. If I choose to walk very closely to someone, I expect them to walk away quickly. If I choose to sit at the same couch/bench as someone, I expect them to get up and walk away within a few moments.
I expect the major reaction I will receive to be that people will give me dirty looks and attempt to increase their distance from me. This norm violation is taking place on campus between classes. I pass by a lot of people and they typically do not wish to be bothered if they are walking to and from class. Our campus is pretty diverse, so all types of different groups of people will be observing and possibly being a participant in this norm violation. It is important to have multiple different kinds of people because their conceptions of what is considered personal space can differ. In order to violate this norm, I chose to invade many peoples’ personal spaces in a variety of ways. If I was talking to someone, I got within a few inches from them. Other than that, I walked right next to people who were going the same way that I was and sat at tables and couches with people that I didn’t know. As I was doing this, I was pretty entertained. Most people were civil and just walked away, but it was clear that were uncomfortable with the experience.
I also thought about how I would react if someone had done the same thing to me. In reflection, I would definitely walk away if I did not know the person. Some people did not have any reaction. That could indicate that they were used to people being close to them, their conception of personal space was far greater than I got, or some other reason. However, a great majority reacted the way that I hypothesized. I expected that people would increase their distance and have a negative reaction, which they did. Nearly all of the people I chose to experiment on walked away and gave me a dirty look. I did not encounter any difficulties in carrying out this assignment. I believe that personal space was not always a norm. I think that it somehow became one over time. If people are friends, family, or intimate, it is absolutely okay for them to be close to each other and/or touching. If that was always the case, something must have happened in order for it to be considered bad or wrong for people that did not fit into those three categories with each other to be in what they consider their personal spaces.