Exploiting Social Norms #3

If you haven’t read the last two posts, please go back and get caught up before reading this one.  It’s important to lay the foundation before constructing the building.

I engineered a separate Southwest Airlines social experiment geared toward personal aversion.  Just like before, I paid for early boarding.  I sat around row twelve and took an aisle seat; except this time, instead of looking forward, I sat in the seat, clasped my hands and placed them between my knees and began rocking forward and backward as if in a rocking chair: think The Rain Man or some similar movie.  I made no eye contact: I never looked up.  I could hear people walk by me one by one; yet, no one wanted to sit by me.  Soon the plane was quite full and people were forced to sit next to me; reluctantly they gave in when the stewardess told them they had to take a seat. 

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Just so you know, once the people were sitting next to me, I straightened up and had a normal flight.  They were quite cordial and we had limited conversations.  Interestingly though, when our personal bubbles began to get closer and closer, as I was breaking the social norm of sitting quietly and looking straight ahead, all my passers-by decided sitting next to me was not worth the risk: my physical position and rocking motion convinced them to avoid me.  Social norm was broken and intersecting presence was threatened.  This, of course, spurred me on to one final social experiment in the vein of Proxemics that I will describe in my next post.  I wanted to see if I could incite absolute aversion...where people would choose discomfort over breaking a social norm.  After my next post, I will draw this thread to a conclusion.  Stay tuned!

Click here to go to the next post in this series.

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