Saleha Salem Saeed Al Nahdi 201008355 Zayed University College of Communication and Media Sciences COM 237:001 Interpersonal and Intercultural Communication Breaching Social Norms Experiment
Method: In the breaching experiment, I went to different grocery stores (Abu Dhabi Co-op in Al Bateen & Al Mushrif) and instead of shopping from the shelves, I shopped from people’s shopping carts. In fact, I was carrying a basket and whenever I saw something I wanted from others’ carts I directly took it without asking for their permission and put it in my basket then walked away.
Findings: Before going to do the experiment, I was very afraid of people’s reactions and if people I will meet will be short tempered. Moreover, I was shy at the beginning and took time to start the experiment. Also, I was worried about missing people’s reactions as I walk away from them. Therefore, I asked my niece to help me in looking at them when I walk away to write down their reactions. During the experiment, I felt that people are staring at me, although my niece told me that no one was looking. Additionally, I was very nervous when I started taking items from people’s carts, especially when they were men. In the other hand, I felt more comfortable with kids and women. While doing the experiment, I saw many relatives and I avoided doing the experiment to them to not be in an embarrassing situation. After the experiment, I was relieved and proud of myself that I dared to do a crazy action to people. Also, I had to apologize to them all after the experiment as I felt bad for showing them a bad behavior. The reactions I received from people were very
shocking. In fact, women were the only ones who dared to talk loudly to me and follow me to get their items back. Actually, woman in all couples that I experimented were the only to react, while their men were only looking at me with crossed eyebrows to show dissatisfaction. However, there was an Indian couple who did not show dissatisfaction and the woman did not do anything beside looking at me and whispering to her husband. Moreover, I found that men were calm in their reaction, especially fathers. In fact, I took items from a cart where a father was with his kids and he calmly told me where I could find the item and asked me to return it. Also, there was a father who was told by his kids that I stole from their cart and he told them that it is not their item yet as they did not pay for it. Moreover, I met a cart where kids were sitting in and when I took an item they pulled it from me and said it is theirs and not mine. Additionally, I met a group of three young men who were laughing when I took an item from their cart and they came to me giving me another item to try it. Furthermore, I met two housemaids and when I took an items from their cart they told me that it is their cart and I walked away, they did not insist and let me go. When I apologized and explained myself to people after the experiment they all wished me good luck and smiled, except one old man who kept staring at me and when I returned the item and apologized, he walked away and ignored me.
Discussion: My hesitation at the beginning of the experiment showed that I fear going against common sense to not be viewed as crazy as well as it showed that I was afraid of misbehaving to not be a rude person. Avoiding relatives in the experiment showed that I fear bad reputation, which it is what our culture cares about. When I felt that people were staring at me in the experiment was a result of being afraid of peopleâ€™s reaction and I was preparing myself to receive a reaction as Nick Enoch explains in Â
his daily mail article that “this feeling is designed to put us on our guard or make us ready for interaction before it actually happens” (2013). Moreover, feeling that someone is watching me is a result of knowing what I do is wrong and my conscience or inner voice was telling me that what I did what wrong (Auken, 2002), which it also explains why I used to apologize to people after the experiment. Being comfortable around women showed that I dare to face women if something bad happens like a fight and their reactions are predictable, unlike men who I am not used in dealing with as well as their actions are not predictable. Additionally, being comfortable with kids showed that I am not afraid of their reactions as they are predictable and they would not cause me any harm as well as I do not take them seriously. The reactions that people showed were different although I did the same to all of them. There are many reasons lying behind their reactions and to understand them, I had to group them as male and female, young and old, foreign and local. Unlike men, women were the first to react as the fact that I am a woman made it easier for them to have courage and dare to communicate with me without the interfere of men as women feel comfortable in dealing with each other (Tannen, 1990). Also, the fact that am young led women to talk bad toward me as what I did is childish and they would not talk the same if I was older. Also, the fact that I am local (wearing Abaya and Sheila) made the Indian wife and housemaids not show their dissatisfaction as locals in the UAE are more powerful and have more rights than other nationalities, which made them avoid having troubles with me and let me go. Also, they had a belief of locals that they will trouble them if they do not let them have what they want or if they go against them (Lustig & Koester, 2009). Additionally, men who were with their kids were very calm with me to not misbehave in front of their kids and to show their kids how to control themselves in these situations (Eckman, 2002). Kids reactions were very innocent as
when they told their father that I stole the item is because they believe that they own what is in their cart as they will pay. Also, they pulled the item that I took from their cart because they took it first and kids do not like when someone takes away what they take. Additionally, the three young men reaction was because they are young have free time and look for fun unlike others. They considered what I did humorous and they did not take it seriously as they sarcastically gave me another item to try it. In case of the old man, he was too old to be messed around with and what I did was childish and not acceptable to him that he even ignored me when I apologized.
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