the Brockway Experiment Essay

Submitted By ryangogarty420
Words: 942
Pages: 4

The Brockway experiment
I. Social norms are the behaviors and cues within a society or group. This sociological term has been defined as “the rules that a group uses for appropriate and inappropriate values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. These rules may be explicit or implicit. Going to eat at a college dining hall is something that seems so simple and people give so little thought to it. Whether you realize or not there are a ton of social norms that go in to eating at the dining hall. From waiting your turn in line to throwing out your garbage when you are done there are little unwritten rules that everyone seems to follow and whenever someone is bold enough to do the opposite everything seems to fall apart. The Brockway Dining Hall is separated into 3 parts, one for the main food/kitchen area, another for the salad bar, and the rest is where everyone sits to eat. There are 4 types of tables there as well; small two person tables, these are more commonly used for couples, 4 person square tables for small groups of usually 3-4 people, medium sized round tables used more frequently by groups of 4-6 people, finally there are very long rectangular tables used usually for very large groups. Although these tables are not reserved for those groups that is just a common rule that no one really thinks twice about. What is important to note for this experiment is how people are. Even though the dining hall is home to many social norms it is a one of the most common places where norms are broken because it’s very chaotic. So in order to make my experiment stick out I had to do something really out of the ordinary.
II. Social norms of eating in the dining hall:
- Eat using proper utensils (the soup fork rule)
- First dinner, then desert (the meat before cake rule)
- Eat off your own plate only (the utensils to yourself rule)
- Sit at the chair (the dirty floor rule)
- Chew food before speaking (the shut yo mouth rule)
- Wait your turn in line (the no cut rule)

III. In order for the correct reaction I have to first assume that the people around me would understand that what I’m doing is clearly incorrect. For instance everybody knows when you eat at any restaurant or dining hall you put your food on the plat, you put the plate on the table, and you sit in the chair. Also when you are waiting on line you wait your turn ask for what you want and then hand them your plate. Last but not least your voice should not be loud enough for the people around you to clearly understand what you are saying. I decided instead of just breaking one norm I would break several over the course of the meal. When it was my turn to get my food instead of handing them my plate I just held it out for them upside down. When she said it’s upside down I responded “whatever” and she looked very confused however she actually put the food on my plate upside down. Next me and my friend went to one of the tables towards the back put our food on the chair and sat on the floor while we ate. Lastly while we sat and ate we a conversation just loud enough so the people closest to us could hear everything that we were saying. The reactions were fantastic. At first only a few people took notice, but word spread quickly and after about 10 minutes people were going out of their way just to see