Coloring with Deviance

Breaking a norm is something that no one really thinks about. Simply doing things different than other people gets reactions. Society has expectations for each person and when one person breaks one of these expectations, we receive sanctions or either a punishment or rewards depending on your action. In order to understand sanctions and expectations, I conducted an experiment by breaking a norm.

In order to see what society expects from a shopper, my friend and I went to the mall and broke a norm there. For my experiment I had a bag of crayons and my friend brought coloring books and we decided to simply sit next to a fountain and color. Even walking into the mall, we got stares. I was holding a bag of crayons and many people simply stared at it then stared at me and my friend. It shows that even when you carry something other than a shopping bag at the mall people see you differently and treat you different. I broke the norm of what to hold while shopping and that was the sanction I received.

When we finally reached the fountain, we decided to break a second norm. We decided instead of sitting on a bench and color, we would sit in front of it. So we simply sat down in front of the fountain on the floor and pulled out our coloring books and crayons. At first, people just walked by and pretended not to see us. When I started taking notes about what the people were doing, I noticed other sanctions we received. Some people stared directly in my eyes and then looked away. Other people just stared the complete opposite direction and just kept walking like we weren’t there. Then, there were some people who would make eye contact and then smile at us. It was hard to collect data since you have to color and try to look at people’s reactions at the same time. That was one reason why I brought a friend. So while she was coloring, I could be taking some notes about the other shoppers and also color at the same time. She also knew about the experiment and also helped me take notes about people that I might have missed and how they reacted. It was good to have a second set of eyes for this experiment.
We sat next to the fountain and colored for about twenty minutes and most of the time we just received stares or smiles. However, there were two other instances that we received more than that. There was this one family coming up from behind us. There was one little boy and girl and their mother who was carrying a baby. They walked right by us and the little boy saw us. He simply said “I like your drawing” and smiled at us. The little girl also smiled and nodded her head in agreement to her brother. It was a positive sanction that we received and I even couldn’t help but smile at it. Then, the family simply walked away and went on to continue shopping.

The second time someone actually stopped to talk to us was with a security man. He was walking by and saw us coloring on the floor. He at first smiled and then walked over to us. He asked us why we were sitting on the floor. The man did not care that we were coloring he just asked us to “take your artistic skills over to the benches behind the fountain”. I believe he said this so we would not be in the front of it exposed to everyone and also so we could still color. He also said that it was not right to sit on the floor and not allowed at the mall. So we did what the security man asked and moved to a bench behind the fountain and hidden from the other shoppers.

There was where I continued the experiment to see people’s reactions in an environment that we were more secluded. However, the experiment failed at that point since not many people were interacting with us. We saw about one or two people walk by us. That was when I decided to end the experiment since I believed I did get a lot of data and say the many sanctions and saw what people truly expected from normal shoppers.

Society expects shoppers to come into the mall and buy what appeals to them and leave. When they see someone preforming an act that doesn’t relate to these expectations, they receive sanctions. From simply stares to being told to move, these sanctions put people in their place and show them how to shop and what not to do at the mall which includes coloring next to the fountain in the middle of the mall.
external image Orland_Square_Mall--Inside.png
This is the fountain that my friend and i sat in front of. We sat on the left hand side by the smaller fountain. As you can see it is right in the middle of the mall where many shoppers pass through to get to the shops they want to visit.