What is deviant behavior? Deviance describes actions or behaviors that violate the social norms of a group of people. Norms are social behaviors that are typical, or expected of a group, and are usually predictable. Sanctions can be positive or negative. Positive sanctions give permission or approval for certain actions and behaviors, while negative sanctions are threatened punishments for disobeying a law or rule. To figure out what responses society provides for breaking social norms, I have conducted an experiment and recorded my results. You may find it quite difficult to break social norms and act deviantly, as you have learned very early in life to behave in a certain manner.
Deviance is determined by any member of a group. What is considered deviant to one person, may not necessarily be deviant to another. Deviant behavior may be restricted by negative sanctions, such as unpleasant looks, comments, or even getting arrested for your actions or behaviors. Although there is no law preventing people from observing someone for any certain amount of time, I violated the, "it's not polite to stare," social norm. Initially when I attempted to stare at people, I found myself looking away quickly, or when the person looked back at me. I had to remind myself that I was conducting an experiment for a specific purpose, to discover the reactions I get for staring longer than society says is appropriate. I still found the task difficult, and had to attempt multiple times before I succeeded. To my surprise, when I caught someone's attention they simply glared, while others smiled then quickly turned away. It seemed as though they did not realize that I was staring at them. One woman, who looked to be in her fifties, was the first to notice my deviant behavior. When the woman noticed me staring at her, she stared back while whispering something to her husband. I noticed the woman continued to glance my way throughout the experiment, while I was focused on other people.