Social Research -- Public Behavior Term Paper

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Social Research -- Public Behavior

Public behavior of individuals often reflects social patterns and interpersonal dynamics that may not be readily apparent without careful observation (Henslin, 2005; Macionis, 2006). Sometimes, apparently simple social interactions and behavioral choices are influenced by perceived expectations, relations between genders, and even the availability of plausible excuses for violating general social norms and expectations (Myers & Spencer, 2007). Social norms and expectations of ordinary gestures of politeness provide opportunities for social research to the extent that experiments can be devised to isolate specific behaviors and behavioral choices in situations where various options are available to individuals (Henslin, 2005; Macionis, 2006)

In this experiment, the behavior selected for observation consisted of the behavioral choices of individuals to observe common expectations of public politeness. More specifically, 40 individuals were observed as they entered or exited Applebee's, a family restaurant in relation to whether or not they made the effort to hold the door for individuals following behind them.

Theory Statement

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It is theorized that several factors will influence the decision to hold the door or not to hold the door for others. Specifically, relative chronological age, race, gender, as well as the availability of excuses, (whether genuine or merely plausible) are expected to play a significant role in the behavioral choice (Healey, 2008; Schaefer, 2006). It is expected that, generally, older individuals are more likely to hold doors and to have doors held for them and that males of all ages are more likely to hold doors for females of all ages. Since so much of social behavior in public relates to the fear of social disapproval, it is anticipated that the individuals with any apparent excuse for inattention will take full advantage of it and ignore the socially expected norm of holding doors for others.

Experimental Hypotheses

1. Males are more likely to hold doors for females than for other males.

2. Individuals are more likely to hold doors for their elders than for their juniors.

Term Paper on Social Research -- Public Behavior Public Behavior Assignment

3. All individuals will make an effort to hold doors for the elderly and disabled.

4. Individuals with any excuse for diverted attention are least likely to hold doors.

Experimental Procedure and Methodology

The experimenter took a position in close enough proximity to observe the behavior at issue but remained in a vehicle parked far enough from the entrance to avoid influencing the outcome by becoming an observer in the minds of subjects. The concern in that respect was that people would react differently if they believed that they were being observed by a specific individual.

The experimenter imposed subjective judgment to determine whether or not individuals successively entering or leaving through the doorway were close enough for it to be reasonably expected that the preceding individual would hold the door. The experimenter decided that using an objective measure (such as linear distance or walking time) would be implausible because of the difficulty of measurement while conducting observation and also because the social appropriateness of the choice to hold doors based on the distance and gait speed of the next person is more a matter of overall perception than objective measurement. The experimenter did not consider instances where individuals did not hold doors for individuals judged by the experimenter to have been too far away to warrant the expectation of door holding.


Only 15 of 40 observed subjects held doors for others following behind them. Out of 25 subjects who did not hold doors for others, 11 were engaged in conversation with others as they passed through the doorway; 9 were engaged in cellular phone conversation; 5 did not make any apparent attempt to determine whether or not anybody was following behind them. The 5 who made no such attempt were all male; of those subjects, 3 made a deliberate attempt to throw the door open wider than necessary for them to pass through as an apparent attempt to avoid accidentally being rude to anybody behind them but without having to acknowledge or accommodate any specific person who might have been behind them.


In many respects, the raw data provided by the experiment revealed less than the subjective observations recorded by the experimenter. While acknowledging… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Social Research -- Public Behavior" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Social Research -- Public Behavior.  (2011, February 24).  Retrieved February 20, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Social Research -- Public Behavior."  24 February 2011.  Web.  20 February 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Social Research -- Public Behavior."  February 24, 2011.  Accessed February 20, 2020.