Social Norm Paper

Erika Lamberson Mrs. DeRoussell Psychology April 9, 2013 Social Norms P1. To be accepted by society people have to follow the norm. When you step outside of the mainstream you are considered “different” no matter how right you are. That’s why when someone starts a movement people are against him, until enough people start do it his way and “it becomes the norm”. It is also called trying to fit in because if you do something out of the norm, you are pretty much an outsider. People get others to do things out of the norm every day, it just goes unnoticed.
Most of the time people don’t do it in public because it isn’t something they want to draw attention to. I am choosing to violate the social norm of going through a drive-thru forwards in a vehicle. I am doing this to find out what kind of reactions I get when I do something out of the ‘social norm’. Going through the drive-thru backwards, whether it is at a fast food place or a bank is not said to be normal. Normally, people pull up to the window with their vehicle facing forward. When I do this social norm violation, I expect to get a lot of responses.
This experiment will be very hard for me to do considering I will have to drive my vehicle in reverse. I predict that the responses will be to get weird looks or possibly laughed at. People don’t normally see someone coming through a drive-thru with their car faced backwards. Not only is it not normal, it can also be dangerous and embarrassing. My only concerns about completing this experiment are that I get it done safely without hurting myself, my vehicle, or anyone else for that matter. Since I will have to go through the drive-thru backwards, this is going to be a challenge.

I will have to watch out of every mirror I have and also pay attention to the people behind me. P2. My plan to complete this social norm experiment is to go through the drive-thru at two different restaurants. The first one will be at a place called Taco Bell. The second will be at Burger King. This will be difficult because I have never gone through a drive-thru in reverse. I will order at the ordering station, and then pull up to the window, pay for my food, receive my food, all while driving in reverse. I will be observing the way the employees and customers act.
Depending on how good this experiment goes, they will all understand why I am doing this. P3. The first thing I did when I pulled into Taco Bell was drive to the back of the restaurant and park my truck. I did this so I could make sure that there weren’t going to be a lot of people going through the drive-thru. The time of night is around 9 at this point, so there weren’t a lot of people out. I started to back up and go to the ordering station. The first curve to the ordering station is a little sharp so of course I had trouble while trying to drive in reverse.
I had my boyfriend with me so he could help observe and order for me. After I got to the ordering station a car pulled up next in line. I couldn’t really see the look on their faces because their headlights were shining right in my eyes. The employee takes our order and we proceed to drive to the window. When we get to the window, the look on the girls face was priceless. When we received our food, we continued to drive backwards like nothing was wrong. Then came the hardest part of the experiment at Taco Bell, pulling back out onto the main road in reverse.
My boyfriend and I made sure that no one was coming from either way just to keep from causing a wreck. I had to quickly pull out onto the main road and turn around as fast as possible. The second restaurant I did the social norms experiment at was Burger King. This place is never very busy so I decided I would go around lunch time. I also had my boyfriend do this one with me. It was around 1 PM on a rainy Saturday. The drive-thru of Burger King was way easier than Taco Bell because it is a lot wider and doesn’t have a sharp turn. I came to the ordering station and my boyfriend began to order our food.
By the time we got to the window to pay for our food, there were 3 people standing there wondering what in the world we were doing. I explained to them why I was driving backwards, and they agreed that they thought it was a fun idea. After we got our food, they laughed and started talking about how they had always seen on the internet someone driving through a drive-thru backwards but hadn’t ever seen it in person. P4. The responses I got were very different at both places. I am not sure if it was because of the employees working or if it was just the time of the day that I went.
The people at Taco Bell didn’t really have that much of a reaction. I got the hint that they just thought I was a stupid teenager that was trying to be cool. I did see one person in the back cooking that laughed and gave me a thumbs up. At Burger King they were so much more interested in what I was doing than anything else. They all gathered at the window and were laughing and carrying on and asking me all sorts of questions. I think I had very different reactions because it was late at night for Taco Bell and all the employees just wanted to go home. P5.
The experience of violating a social norm was definitely thrilling. I don’t think I would have ever thought to do something like this without the realization of how important ‘social norms’ are. The experiment left me with more knowledge about how important social norms are to people. To go against a social norm is looked down on most of the time. I was really great to go out and do the opposite and see what the reactions were. Even though you don’t get a good reaction, another place may laugh with you. You should never be too embarrassed to try something out of the norm.

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