Breaching Experiment: The Human Response to the Invasion of Personal Space

Essay by zuzu478University, Bachelor'sA+, April 2003

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Breaching Experiment: The Human Response to the Invasion of Personal Space

Have you ever been to a wedding and just felt completely confused because one of the female guests decided she was going to wear a wedding gown of her own to someone else's wedding? Wouldn't it be weird if one day, you walked into one of your discussion classes to find that your cool, hip, macho male T.A. just all of a sudden decided that to put on make-up, wear fake rubber breasts, and dress like a female to teach his class? Is this normal? What exactly is normal and who is to define what is normal and what is not? Norms, as defined by Schaefer's Seventh Edition Sociology text, are standards of behavior that are maintained by society. However, there are several types of norms, in which all act upon its distinctive ways. Informal norms, however, are behaviors that are maintained by society that are generally understood, but not precisely recorded.

The wedding gown and the macho, but very pretty T.A. were both examples of informal norms. There are no specific punishments for the awkward behavior of these two people. However, a few might confront the bride and tell her she is being disrespectful or the T.A.'s students might ridicule him, calling him different names. The society has no precise penalty for people such as the two mentioned above. The response from the people around them would be their only result of breaching an informal norm.

At most times, when in public, or even around your friends, a standard distance is usually kept in respect to others. Personal space is at least an arm's length, or about 1 ½ to 3 feet around the body. Most people do not like having their personal space invaded and everyone reacts...