Back to School Offer

Get 20% of Your First Order amount back in Reward Credits!

Get 20% of Your First Orderback in Rewards

All papers examples
Get a Free E-Book! ($50 Value)
HIRE A WRITER!
Paper Types
Disciplines
Get a Free E-Book! ($50 Value)

Breaching Experiment the Grocery Store, Research Paper Example

Pages: 6

Words: 1615

Research Paper

Introduction

In the article entitled “Sociology in Action: The Breaching Experiment,” author Jason Carr writes “breaching experiments are planned and deliberate breaks of a commonly accepted social norm.” Such experiments are not intended to cause harm, but are conducted simply to highlight the ways that individuals react to violations of social norms, and the behavioral “repair work” they do in order to make sense of the unusual situation. The following breaching experiment provided some insight into these norms and behaviors.

Breaching Experiment

This breaching experiment involved the behavior of people in grocery stores.  I utilized several different specific behaviors that went against social norms in grocery stores. I also used a partner to help me gauge the reactions of people. In the first stage of the experiment I walked around the store, and when I saw a shopper I slowly got closer, like I was looking at products on the shelves near where they were shopping. The goal was to get as close as possible to the person and to his or her cart so I could be ready. As the person selected an item (or several items) from the shelf, I continued to look at the shelves as if I was shopping and not paying attention to the other person. Once they finished selecting an item or items, I casually took one of the same items and placed it in the person’s cart. I did my best to mimic the behavior of a typical shopper, as if I was just shopping and using my own cart, except it was the other person’s cart and not my own.

After I had placed the item in the cart I would choose from a number of behaviors. In one instance I walked away and left that particular aisle. I did my best to pretend that the other person was invisible, by not making eye contact or doing anything else that indicated I had noticed that anyone else was there. In another case I turned from one side of the aisle to the other and began to look at items on the opposite shelf. Again, I pretended not to notice that anyone else was there, and made it appear as if I was just casually shopping, but was using someone else’s shopping cart instead of having one of my own.  In the third behavior option I just kept looking at the closest shelf near the same item I had just selected from the shelf and placed in the person’s cart. In each case my friend/research assistant was close by, but far enough away that it did not seem as if we were there together.

In the first experiment example I placed a bottle of ketchup in a man’s shopping cart and walked away. He was approximately 45-50 years old, and was shopping alone. He called to me before I got around the corner (I was only a few feet from the end of the aisle, on the right side). He said “excuse me, is this yours?” I replied “no, it’s yours” and kept walking until I was out of sight. According to my partner, the man stood there for a moment, looking at the bottle, the cart, and the shelf with a puzzled look on his face. I expected that he might follow me to ask why I had responded the way I did, but he ended up putting the bottle back on the shelf after just a few seconds. That was his only response.

In the next example I did the same thing, but this time with a woman of about the same age. She elected several containers of coffee, the kind that come in a large blue plastic tub. I had gotten close to her so quickly that I noticed she seemed a bit startled, though that was not my intent. I stared straight at the shelf to try to play off the fact that I had approached her so quickly, and pretended not to notice her. As soon as she moved away I grabbed another container of the same coffee and put it in her cart. I was not very graceful about it, and it made a pretty loud noise as it hit the other containers. This time the woman was definitely startled, and I turned away as quickly as possible to keep from laughing nervously, or to say anything like “I’m sorry.” My partner had moved closer by this time, and we were now on either side of the subject, both about the same distance away. I stayed turned away, but my partner watched the subject’s reaction. She apparently glared at me angrily, and she took the coffee container out of her cart and placed it back on the shelf, looking back at me several times. As soon as she was done she wheeled her cart away down the long stretch of the aisle, as I was between her and the closer end. She looked back at me one more time and then rounded the corner. She never said a word to me.

In the final example I was standing near a young female approximately my own age, and she was looking through a section of vitamins and supplements. She asked me what I thought of the choices she had (which I was not expecting). I just looked at her and shrugged, but did not say anything. Almost immediately she made a selection and started to move away from me, as if I had upset her by not responding. It was difficult to time it right, but I managed to grab one of the same bottles and place it in her basket (she did not have a cart). She stopped, looked at me, and asked “why did you do that?” It was not easy, but I kept a straight face and shrugged at her again. She said “please don’t do that” in a very stern voice, and replaced the bottle of vitamins on the shelf. She then turned and walked away quickly, without looking at me again or saying anything else.

Breaching Experiment Analysis

In any social setting there are expected norms of behavior. While it may be common for people to make small talk in a grocery store, especially if they are near each other, it is not as common to strike up a lengthy conversation. It is clearly not an expected social norm that one individual would place an item in another person’s shopping cart. There was no communication between myself and any of the subjects that would indicate that the subject would be expected or required to keep the item (or, of course, pay for it). There was nothing stopping each subject from simply returning the item to the cart. In such a setting, however, we do not expect strangers to act as if they are friends or family members. It would not be unusual for people shopping together (whether they are couples, or friends, or family members) to place items in the same cart, but when a stranger does the exact same thing (with no threatening behavior other than the unexpected action) it clearly violates typical social norms of behavior.

In each instance the subjects responded differently, and their response seemed to be based on my behavior after I performed the reaching behavior. In the first instance I placed a bottle of ketchup into someone else’s cart and then walked away without any further contact. That subject responded primarily by looking confused, but he did not appear to feel challenged or threatened. Almost as soon as I was out of sight he simply placed the bottle back on the shelf and returned to shopping, seeming to forget about the incident immediately. In the second instance the response from the subject was noticeably different. Even though I turned away from her as soon as I had placed the coffee in her cart, she reacted angrily, and appeared to feel threatened or challenged by my behavior. Despite this reaction, however, she did not say anything. I was only aware of her reaction because my assistant had described it to me, but as it was happening I felt as if I could tell she was looking at me. The only subject who spoke to me was the third one, and I presumed that it was because I stayed so close to her (within just a few feet at the most) after the breaching behavior. She responded with obvious annoyance, and told me not to repeat the behavior before walking away.

These brief exchanges led me to reach several conclusions, and gave me some insight into such social interactions. I was not surprised by the reactions of the subjects, or by the fact that each of them responded differently depending on how closely I stayed to them after the breaching behavior. What did surprise me was my own discomfort at performing these behaviors. I knew what I was doing was a form of an experiment (and that no one would be hurt), but I still did not like breaching these social norms. In each case I felt the need to explain or apologize for my own behavior, but I did not, as I did not want to influence any subsequent responses (I wondered in each case if any of the subjects would approach me again after walking away, but none of them did).  This experiment definitely made the point to me about how strongly we adhere to social norms and how uncomfortable we are when they are broken,. It also showed me how uncomfortable we are when we break them ourselves, which was a conclusion I did not anticipate.

Work Cited

Carr, Jason. ‘Sociology In Action – The Breaching Experiment’. WiredCosmos. N.p., 2012. Web. 21 Jan. 2015.

Time is precious

Time is precious

don’t waste it!

Get instant essay
writing help!
Get instant essay writing help!
Plagiarism-free guarantee

Plagiarism-free
guarantee

Privacy guarantee

Privacy
guarantee

Secure checkout

Secure
checkout

Money back guarantee

Money back
guarantee

Related Research Paper Samples & Examples

Application of RFID Technology in Reverse Logistics, Research Paper Example

Background/ Introduction Reverse logistics is one of the most challenging aspects of the supply chain. While forward logistics is usually an orderly process, reverse logistics [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 353

Research Paper

Commodity Form and Legal Form, Research Paper Example

The present economic global crisis has spearheaded a renewed interest in the theories embedded in the works of Karl Marx. As a matter of fact, [...]

Pages: 15

Words: 4260

Research Paper

Impact of the Exchange System in Venezuela, Research Paper Example

Venezuela has come to the lime light for a number of reasons, most of which have tarnished its reputation economically and financially. Venezuela experienced periods [...]

Pages: 4

Words: 1207

Research Paper

The Medical Supply Company’s Software Acquisition, Research Paper Example

There are mainly four methods of software acquisition. The use of each technique depends on some factors including MSC’s goals and objectives, human resource capacity, [...]

Pages: 3

Words: 701

Research Paper

Eating Disorders Amongst Teens and Young Adults, Research Paper Example

Introduction There has been an increased prevalence of eating disorders amongst tends and young adults. While individuals of both genders experience eating disorders, they are [...]

Pages: 6

Words: 1769

Research Paper

The American Revolution, Research Paper Example

Introduction The American Revolution was one of the most influential times in U.S. history, there were a lot of things that made America the great [...]

Pages: 7

Words: 1996

Research Paper

Application of RFID Technology in Reverse Logistics, Research Paper Example

Background/ Introduction Reverse logistics is one of the most challenging aspects of the supply chain. While forward logistics is usually an orderly process, reverse logistics [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 353

Research Paper

Commodity Form and Legal Form, Research Paper Example

The present economic global crisis has spearheaded a renewed interest in the theories embedded in the works of Karl Marx. As a matter of fact, [...]

Pages: 15

Words: 4260

Research Paper

Impact of the Exchange System in Venezuela, Research Paper Example

Venezuela has come to the lime light for a number of reasons, most of which have tarnished its reputation economically and financially. Venezuela experienced periods [...]

Pages: 4

Words: 1207

Research Paper

The Medical Supply Company’s Software Acquisition, Research Paper Example

There are mainly four methods of software acquisition. The use of each technique depends on some factors including MSC’s goals and objectives, human resource capacity, [...]

Pages: 3

Words: 701

Research Paper

Eating Disorders Amongst Teens and Young Adults, Research Paper Example

Introduction There has been an increased prevalence of eating disorders amongst tends and young adults. While individuals of both genders experience eating disorders, they are [...]

Pages: 6

Words: 1769

Research Paper

The American Revolution, Research Paper Example

Introduction The American Revolution was one of the most influential times in U.S. history, there were a lot of things that made America the great [...]

Pages: 7

Words: 1996

Research Paper

Get a Free E-Book ($50 in value)

Get a Free E-Book

How To Write The Best Essay Ever!

How To Write The Best Essay Ever!