An elevator is one of the most inconvenient places to talk to people and especially make new acquaintances. This fact is explained by the feeling of being cornered due to the lack of an opportunity to avoid conversations. Even though specialists sometimes recommend using the time spend there for improving one’s communication skills and practicing small talk, this solution is applicable only to a limited number of topics (Chopra & Sehgal, 2018). Thus, for example, a lively discussion of music tastes or interests in this situation does not seem to be appropriate and, therefore, can be viewed as a violation of a folkway. In the best-case scenario, one will not receive a response from others who might be annoyed by such interference. Otherwise, specific social sanctions might be used to make the person act in a polite way. Therefore, the goal of this experiment is to reveal the consequences of breaking the mentioned folkway.
Plan of the Strategy
The strategic plan with regard to the specified objective consists of several stages. First, it is critical to select a suitable facility where one can freely communicate with people without distracting them from work. It means that the best option is to go to a shopping mall since their visitors usually have time to talk. Second, it is necessary to prepare a set of questions, which will be used to start a conversation. In this case, the list includes the following: Do you like watching horror films? What was the last movie you watched? What do you think about Scarlett Johansson’s new haircut? In the course of the experiment, the violation’s nature will be related to citizens’ privacy, which is not legally protected but respected. The process will not be time-consuming as an elevator ride takes only a couple of minutes.
Experience and Observations
The practical implementation of the designed plan in my friend’s company was simple. We were waiting near the elevators on the first floor and entered them when other people were using them. Due to the lack of crowds with the pandemic restrictions, there were only a few shoppers, which made the task easier. The attempts to talk to them had different outcomes depending on the age and gender of visitors. Young people aged 15 to 25 were willing to support the initiative, and it was perceived as a funny event by them. As this attitude did not correspond to our expectations, we tried to talk to men and women over 30 years old. This time, our attempts were made with suspicion, and they allowed us concluding on the varying views expressed by different population groups.
Received Social Sanctions
Since young participants did not respond to the interference with annoyance or anger, social sanctions were received from other people. Most of them were women over 40, and they regarded the situation as extremely inappropriate events. These shoppers looked at us angrily when we tried to talk to them and did not reply. Moreover, some of them told us directly that we should be quiet or they will have to leave the elevator to wait for the next one. In this case, men were calmer but still did not enjoy the conversations much. They mostly misinterpreted our intentions and viewed them as attempts to carry out a social survey rather than communicate. In brief, the social sanctions were anger, annoyance, distrust, and advice to change the conduct.
In this experiment, the violated folkway was the privacy of people, which was more severe due to the fact of being in such a restricted place. This cultural norm derives from the values of independence and individualism, which are some of the essential issues guiding people’s behavior. The conduct adopted for the purpose of the study upset the social order by making others respond to strangers, which is uncommon unless it is small talk. In this way, the typical expectations of shoppers were disrupted by the non-compliance to informal norms, which are related to the need to carefully select topics for conversing with people one does not know. In turn, the predictability of actions is important because of the need to respond accordingly, which means following the commonly agreed rules. Otherwise, it might be difficult to properly react to others’ communication patterns, which can be stressful. In addition, the observations add to the fact that the adherence to the mentioned values decreases the level of toleration for odd, folkway-violating deeds. It makes people suspicious of any unusual occasions, which do not correlate with their personal views.
To summarize, the experiment, which implied discussing inappropriate topics with strangers during an elevator ride, demonstrated the varying attitudes of representatives of different population groups towards unexpected events. Thus, young people were reported not to experience stress deriving from the mentioned factor in contrast to their older counterparts, especially women. The social sanctions stemming from this behavior were anger, annoyance, and attempts to instill proper values. Considering the described outcomes, it can be concluded that the latter’s reaction was conditional upon their lack of knowledge on how to act in particular situations compared to the greater flexibility of teenagers.
Chopra, D., & Sehgal, K. (2018). Why you should talk to people in elevators. CNBC.