In our social psychology experiment we violated a social norm by paying with pennies instead of paying with dollar bills. People usually pay their debts with dollars and if its not much maybe some change but never does anyone pay for something with all pennies. Its something you just don't see everyday and that is why when we did it it violated a social norm. The social norm for paying for something (like a doughnut, a bag of chips, food or pans) would be by paying with a dollar bill. In this experiment we wanted to see how people would react when we paid with pennies. We didn't want to know just how the cashier would react but the other people in line, other people watching, we wanted to know what people thought. We hypothesized that if we were to pay with pennies people would be either amused or angry, but noone would act normally. We knew that there would be a change in reaction compared to the control group (how people normally pay their debts with paper money). In watching all of these peoples reactions we realized that many things contributed to that particular persons reaction and some factors were, the environment, the presence of an authority figure, the other people at the shop and even other factors like their age group. After conducting our experiment our hypothesis was proven correct, we were right in thinking that peoples reactions would be different and they would be either amused or angry. Noone was able to successfully ignore us and pretend its normal. However there were some differences from what we anticipated and what we learned from the survey questions. For an example, we thought that people would be either amused or pissed off and we were right, however we thought people would be angered because we were paying with pennies but after the survey we realized that some people were not angry at the fact we were paying with pennies but because they had to do more work. Other then this there was not much more surprising about the results. We think that people did react this way and that our hypothesis was deemed correct because what we did really is out of the ordinary, it really is something you wouldn't expect, and really is something you don't see everyday. The Difference between the control group and the experimental group was pretty much the fact that the experimental group had a reaction and it was not the same thing that happens everyday, I am pretty sure that it was the highlight of the day for some of these cashiers. We also realized that the people in line during the Dunkin Donuts experiment were very angry and they were the ones that were angry as opposed to the cashier simply because they had to wait and it was annoying for them. The Cashiers didn't feel this way in all three experiments and were usually more amused then angry and if they were angry not really for the reason we were expecting. The results we got were no way perfect and we think many factors caused these results and we are pretty sure that depending on a few of these factors these peoples reactions would be different. For an example the lady in red specifically stated that she was in a rush and that this was New York City, and she doesnt have time. So I assume that if we did this in another place maybe California where things are more slowed down and calmer there would be less angry people and more amused people as opposed to in NYC where there would be more angry people and less amused people. (We do not change our stance in that their reactions would be different from the control group). Another factor besides from environment/geography would be group think and the other people in the store. For an example in Dunkin Donuts the lady in the red made the cashier nervous, because she is a customer, and she needs to do whatever to keep the customer happy, thus she got more worried, less amused and more angry as time went on because of these outside pressures and conformity. Lastly, the presence of an authority figure could have also changed the whole outcome of the experiment because if the manager of the Dunkin Donuts or the owner of the 99 cent store was there Im pretty sure the cashier's reaction wouldve been different and more serious. This project allowed me to understand how society works and how social norms work, how people react and why. I realized that even though we are always told to be ourselves people tend to do what other people are doing. They tend to shun upon the same things, they tend to embrace the same things, they tend to do everything in a similar way and there are only a few exceptions. I realized that for every reaction that we got that day there were so many uncontrollable variables that affected their reaction and it would be nearly impossible to get a real genuine reaction from a person that is truly theirs as opposed to what their reaction "should be".
- Aarsh Vora