Breaking out of social norms

Has anyone been wondering why there have been odd things going on around campus like people eating mayonnaise out of a jar, and holding a sign that asks for money even though they don’t need it?

Sociology professor Paul Derby has the explanation. Derby explained last week that these students were completing something called the Capstone Seminar and Sociology Project, required of his
senior graduate students. This research experiment had to be original and be approved by Derby
and the sociology department at Castleton State College. These projects were carefully evaluated so they would not put anyone in harm and sign-offs were required.

The idea of this project was to breach a social norm. Students were asked to go around doing socially
unaccepted or inappropriate actions that would get people to react. In the experiments, people were videotaped and asked about there initial reactions.

One group did an interesting project with mayonnaise and money.

The first experiment involved students holding a sign on campus that said “I don’t need money I just want it.” Most students just walked by and laughed, according to one of the experimenters, Samantha Barrale.

Then they went to Rutland, where people’s responses were quite different. One man actually gave them $5 rather than giving another man 50 cents, a man who looked like he actually needed it.

This money was returned and the man was informed it was only an experiment.

The next research idea was to walk around with a mayonnaise jar, which was actually filled with vanilla pudding to see how people would react. A lot of contorted facial expressions and odd conversations
ensued at the apparent mayonnaise munching, they said.

Overall, Barrale said the reactions they received from people were not at all what the group had
anticipated. Their hypothesis was that people would act surprised or confused, but people seemed to
accept the situations. She said that society has changed a lot and with all of the things shown on television, these things seem normal to most people.

This wasn’t the only experiment happening on campus. There are others that include investigating hookup culture, Castleton Green Campus Initiative and awareness, condom use at Castleton, gender confusion and horseback riding therapy among others

On May 14, all of the students participating in this project will be presenting publically in Leavenworth Hall, and Derby encourages the public to attend.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous post Right to Play Barefoot Soccer Game
Next post Comedy Night in Fireside