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1 Megan Augustin English 309: Advanced Prose Writing November 10, 2011 What Inspires Young Adults to Deviate

from Societal Norms? Abstract Young adults (18-23 years old) make significantly more life-altering decisions than any other age group. What encourages young adults to deviate from societal norms? This Paper discusses the biological and societal reasons that young adults deviate from societal norm. A survey was given to the participants that included demographic information (concerning gender, age and race) and several questions concerning the material (open-ended questions that asked for definitions of norms, aspects of deviation and connotations associated with deviance). The answers for the open-ended questions were categorized into three categories based on the frequency response. These results overall confirm the dated literature and demonstrate that even though most of the research concerning social deviance is dated, it is still relevant in the field of social deviance. This study not only demonstrates the cultural validity of the definition of norms and deviance, it also provides evidence for social deviance having a negative connotation. By creating a new term, Positive Social Deviance, Spreitzer and Sonenshein (2004) have created a new place for deviating in a positive way. Deviation can have a positive connotation if it is an act with intention, deviation from norms, and an honorable nature (p.842). Deviation can cause positive social change. Key Words: Societal Deviance, Societal Norms, Positive Social Deviance, Negative Social Deviance and Survey

2 Introduction Young adults (18-23 years old) make significantly more life-altering decisions than any other age group. According to Carl Tittle et al. (2004), the trend is for deviance to increase throughout the adolescent years, reaching a maximum in late adolescence or early adulthood (p. 429). This is generally because around this time young adults are graduating from high school, moving away from home, deciding their lifetime career, and determining what their future may hold. In this critical period of decisions and pressure, under ten percent of young adults decided to deviate from their traditionally laid out roles in society (Tittle, 433). What encouraged this small group of young adults to deviate from societal norms? In this paper I will be discussing the biological and societal reasons that young adults deviate from societal norm. Definition of Deviance According to John Kitsuse (as cited in Holstein 2009), a pioneer in the sociological analysis of deviance, deviance is defined as the processes by which persons come to be defined as deviant by others (p. 53). This was one of the first published definitions, but it has been edited and changed by other more modern sociologists such as Howard Becker (1963). Becker added on to Kitsuses definition by providing social context: social groups create deviance by making the rules whose infraction constitutes deviance and by applying those rules to particular people and labeling them as outsider (p. 124). Becker discusses the definition of deviance more specifically later in the text by claiming that, different groups judge different things to be deviant (p. 124). In other words, cultural norms can only be defined when they are put in a social context, therefore deviance can only be defined in a social context. Definition of Cultural Norms The current definition of norms has been very difficult for sociologists to distinguish because there is a lack of agreement in generic definitions, no adequate classification scheme for distinguishing norms, and there are no consistent norms across cultures (Gibbs 1965, p. 586). According to Broom and Selznick (as cited in Gibbs 1965), the current definition of social norms is: Norms specify appropriate and inappropriate behavior, and individuals are rewarded or punished as they conform to or deviate from the rules (p. 586). On the other hand, Carl Johnson (as cited in Gibbs 1965) defined norms as an abstract pattern, held in mind, that sets certain limits for behavior (p. 586). Gregory Williams (as cited in Gibbs 1965) added on to Johnsons definition by claiming that the term cultural norm refers to a specific prescription of the course that action should follow in a given situation (p. 586). Becker (1963) was sure to distinguish that, Only those who are actually members of the group have any interest in making and enforcing certain rules (p. 136). These differing views and definitions make it nearly impossible to determine the current cultural definition of norms. However, cultural norms can be defined when context is taken into account. Biological Factors That Influence Deviance One of the main reasons that people choose to socially deviate is because of biological factors. In a recent study conducted by John Davis et al. (2009), it was discovered that dominant rats are more willing to deviate when there is an increased motivational state (p. 23). It was also discovered that dominant rats had increased levels of the orexin receptor (acts as

3 serotonin/adrenaline) in the brain. This can potentially transfer over to humans when a dominant person in a societal group deviates from the societal groups norms then that dominant person will have an increase of serotonin in their system. Serotonin is known to be the bodys natural feel good chemical, and when this is released in the body humans have a tendency experience an enhanced mood (McManamy 2011). According to David Wells (2006), personality also plays a role in deviating from social norms. In his study it was determined that there is a significant relationship between creativity and deviance (p. 74). Young adults may be more inclined to deviate when they receive a reward for deviating (serotonin release in the brain), or if they initially have a creative personality. Societal Factors That Influence Deviance The second main reason for social deviation is societal factors. In a recent study done by Palana Chekroun and Armelle Nugier (2011), they investigated the role of emotions (shame, guilt, selfconscious feelings, embarrassment and moral feelings) on deviation. It was determined that, Shame and embarrassment caused by the deviant behavior of a group member is one of the main motivations for this strategy (p. 479). This means that when someone is presented with an embarrassing situation they are more likely to socially deviate. According to Morgan Crane and Michael Platow (2010), deviants also tend to be highly identifying group members (p. 827). This means that group members that are highly associated with the group (group leaders) are more likely to deviate from that social groups social norms. Jolanda Jetten et al. (2010) also focused on this area of study and contributed other social factors including deviance in in-groups and out-group. According to a study done by Jetten et al. (2010), Newcomers resiled from confronting deviants when an in-group rule-breaker had to be directly confronted (p. 338). Wesley Younts (2008), on the other hand, focused on the status of an individual and the power that individual has over other group members beliefs. Younts (2008) claimed that eventually deviance would be considered proper when a high status group member is deviating from societal norms (p. 561). Societys influence over deviance is monumental because society determines norms and as a result defines deviance. It is well demonstrated through literature that there are multiple biological and societal factors that influence deviance. The definition of deviance is always evolving as a societys norms change. Deviations within a societal context are crucial to the development of a society, but understanding why young adults choose to deviate is a complex and multifaceted question. Methods Participants The survey was given to 25 participants from the University of Idaho. All of the participants live in the college dorms on the University of Idaho campus and are between the ages of 18 and 23. The demographics are demonstrated in figures 1-3.

Figure 1: 92% of the participants were White/Caucasian, 4% were Black/African American and, 4% were Hispanic.

Figure 2: 565 of the participants were male and 44% of the participants were female.

Figure 3: The ages of the participants ranged from 18 years old to 23 years old. 28% of the participants were 19 years old, 24% of the participants 20 years old, 24% of the participants were 21 years old, 12% of the participants were 23 years old, 8% of the participants were 18 years old and 4% of the participants were 22 years old. The Survey A survey (see Appendix A or Table 1) was given to the participants of this study. The survey included a total of seven questions; questions one through three were demographic questions concerning gender, age, and race; questions four through six were open-ended questions that referenced the material (example: What happens when someone deviates against the normal?); question seven was a multiple-choice question that discussed the connotation associated with social deviance (see Appendix A or Table 1). This survey was given to validate the dated research that is available on social deviance. Question four asked, How would you define normal in a social setting? This question was asked to provide insight to the current definition of norms. Question five asked, What happens when someone deviates against the normal? This question was asked to understand the populations understanding of social repercussions for deviating from societal norms. Question six asked, Why do you think that people deviate from the normal? This question was asked to grasp the populations understanding of why people choose to deviate. Question seven asked, In your opinion what connotation is associated with the term social deviant? (a. Negative, b. Positive). This question was asked to determine the populations feelings (negative or positive) towards the term social deviant (see Appendix A or Table 1).

6 Table 1: Survey Questions Question 1 Gender: (Circle one) Male Female Question 2 Age Question 3 Ethnicity: American Indian on Alaska Native, Hispanic, Asian, Black or African American, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, or White Question 4 How would you define normal in a social setting? Question 5 What happens when someone deviates against the normal? Question 6 Why do you think that people deviate from the normal? Question 7 In your Opinion what connotation is associated with the term social deviant? (Circle one). A. Negative, B. Positive Procedure Participants were selected from the common area of the Living Learning Community at University of Idaho. After participants were chosen, they were asked if they would like to participate in a survey. The participants were then informed that the survey was confidential and that with the completion of the survey they would be given a piece of candy. The participants were given the survey and were asked to fill it out to the best of their abilities. Participants that did not already have a writing utensil were given a pen or pencil. After the completion of the survey participants were asked to turn in the survey to the proctor, and when the survey was turned in they received the minor incentive. Results The survey was done to demonstrate the relevancy of societal deviance and to further the definitions of societal deviance and societal norms. The results from all of the questions are demonstrated in Appendix B. The results from question number seven are demonstrated in Figure 7 below. A coding scheme for the answers to questions 4-6 was implemented to add clarification to the study (this is described in full in the analysis section).

Figure 7: This figure provides the distribution of answers for question #7. 8% of the population answered b (Positive), and 92% of the population answered a (negative). Analysis Coding Scheme The results from questions four through six were open-ended and therefore required a coding scheme in order to interpret the data. The responses were first checked for frequency of language. After the frequency was determined the responses were placed into three different categories for every question. These categories were determined by frequency of language and were then given an overall term or phrase to classify the category. The categories are demonstrated in tables 1-3 below. For the full data chart see Appendix B. Table 2: Categories of responses to question #4. Question 4 Category 1 Average Category 2 Based on what is culturally acceptable Category 3 There is no definition

8 Table 3: Categories of responses to question #5. Question 5 Category 1 The deviant is viewed negatively Category 2 The deviant gets noticed Category 3 The deviant is viewed positively

Table 4: Categories of responses to question #6. Question 6 Category 1 To be different Category 2 To get noticed Category 3 They have different beliefs Distribution of Categories The distribution of the categories was analyzed for questions 4-6. These distributions are graphically displayed in Figures 4-6.

Figure 4: This figure provides the distribution of responses to question #4 in their appropriate category (see table 2). 4% of the participants answered in Category 3, 48% of the participants answered in Category 2, and 48% of the participants answered in Category 1.

Figure 5: This figure provides the distribution of responses to question #5 in their appropriate scheme (see table 3). 12% of the participants answered in Category 3, 16% of the participants answered in Category 2, and 72% of the participants answered in Category 1.

Figure 6: This figure provides the distribution of responses to question #6 in their appropriate scheme (see table 4). 16% of the participants answered in Category 3, 12% of the participants answered in Category 2 and 72% of the participants answered in Category 1.

10 Analysis of Responses The results from question four (How would you define normal in a social setting?) demonstrated that 96% of the participants defined normal as average or based on what is culturally acceptable. This adds clarity to the current definition for norms by providing that norms are culturally set standards that are determined by that culture. This idea was initially theorized by: Johnson, Becker, Broom, Selznick, Gibbs and Williams (1963). The answers from the participants demonstrate the cultural validity of the theorized definition of norms. The results from question five (What happens when someone deviates against the normal?) demonstrated that the majority of participants (72%) determined that when someone deviates from the normal that deviant is viewed negatively. This information provides consistency within the definition of deviance. Whether the deviant is participating in positive or negative deviance, they are still viewed negatively. The results from question seven (in your Opinion what connotation is associated with the term social deviant?) are very similar to question five, because they both demonstrate the opinion and perception of deviance in a society. Question seven demonstrated that there is a negative connotation associated with the term social deviant; 92% of the participants answered this way. These two questions from the study provide evidence that there are negative connotations associated with social deviance. The results from question six (Why do you think that people deviate from the normal?) demonstrated that the majority of the participants (88%) thought that people deviate to be different or to get noticed. According to the previous research these results demonstrate the theories that people deviate from the normal when it expected of them. Younts (2008) discussed how group leaders are more likely to deviate from the group. When a group leader is expected to stand out from societal norms they are more accepted. On the other hand, when a lower level group member stands out that social group reprimands them (p. 577). These results overall confirm the dated literature and demonstrate that even though most of the research concerning social deviance is dated, it is still relevant in the field of social deviance. This study not only demonstrates the cultural validity of the definition of norms and deviance, it also provides evidence for social deviance having a negative connotation. Discussion Young adults may make a similar amount of decisions as other age groups, but young adults tend to make more life-altering decisions. Finding a role in society can inspire these decisions and can result in societal deviance from social roles. But why are young adults inspired to deviate? From previous research it was determined that there are multiple biological factors and societal factors that influence deviation from societal roles. Biological and Societal Factors that Influence Societal Deviance On one hand biological factors influence societal deviance, According to Wells (2006) personality plays a role in the want to deviate (p. 76). Having a creative personality will significantly improve the probability that someone will deviate. Deviating from societal norms

11 has an influence over the bodys Serotonin levels (Davis 2009, p.23). These levels increase when someone is participating in a deviant act. This natural feel good chemical inspires young adults to partake in societal deviance. On the other hand societal factors influence societal deviance. In past research it was concluded that emotions such as shame, guilt and self-conscious feelings inspire deviance (Chekroun 2011). Younts (2008) focused on the status of an individual, and the individuals role within a group. He claimed that deviance would become proper when a high status member deviates from societal norms. Biology and society can influence a young adult to take societal risks. Possible Limitations of the Study This study did have some limitations. First the demographics were not very diverse. 92% of the population was Caucasian. Another limitation to this survey was the sample size. The sample size was significantly smaller than necessary (n=25). This was mainly due to the limited amount of time to perform this survey and the time necessary for analyzing the survey. Another limitation of this study was that there was no definite clear definition of societal deviance and societal norms. Positive Social Deviance The survey data demonstrates the negative connotations that are associated with deviance. Social deviants are still reprimanded for deviating from societal norms. This negative connotation unfortunately discourages social deviation when social deviation is needed to create change in a society. According to Gretchen Spreitzer and Scott Sonenshein (2004), the research on social deviance in too narrow and has a tendency to ignore deviance within positive behaviors (p.828). Spreitzer and Sonenshein (2004) claimed that, traditional deviance is incomplete and could benefit from an expanded definition that more accurately captures the wider range of behaviors present within work organizations (p. 828). To redefine social deviance Spreitzer and Sonenshein created a new three-part definition of Positive Social Deviance (p.842). The first part of the definition focused on the intention of the deviance: Positive deviance is intentional. Positive deviance is voluntary, purposeful, and discretionary, rather than forced or coerced (p.842). The second part of the definition focused on the departure from norms: that positive deviance involves a departure from the norms of a referent group and is therefore often unexpected (p.842). The third and final part of the definition focused on the honorable nature of the deviation: episodes of positive deviance are honorable. They have a virtuous character to them (p.842). By creating a new term, Positive Social Deviance, Spreitzer and Sonenshein (2004) have created a new place for deviating in a positive way. Deviation can have a positive connotation if it is an act with intention, deviation from norms, and an honorable nature (p.842). Deviation can cause positive social change. Future Research I have some suggestions for future research on the topic of positive social deviance. I encourage researchers to create a new study with a larger sample size (n >50) that takes into account positive social deviance when discussing deviance as a whole. I also encourage future researchers to combine the definitions of societal deviance and positive social deviance to create one universal term that restricts the negative connotations associated with deviance

12 References Becker, H.S. (1963). Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance. New York, NY: The Free Press. Chekroun, P., & Nugier, A. (2011). 'I'm ashamed because of you, so please, don't do that!': Reactions to deviance as a protection against a threat to social image. European Journal of Social Psychology, 41(4), 479-488. doi:10.1002/ejsp.809. Crane, M. F., & Platow, M. J. (2010). Deviance as adherence to injunctive group norms: The overlooked role of social identification in deviance. British Journal of Social Psychology, 49(4), 827-847. doi:10 1348/014466609X481416. Davis, J. F., Krause, E. G., Melhorn, S. J., Sakai, R. R., & Benoit, S. C. (2009). Dominant rats are natural risk takers and display increased motivation for food reward. Neuroscience, 162(1), 23-30. doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2009.04.039 Gibbs, J.P. (1965). Norms: The Problem of Definition and Clarification. American Journal of Sociology. 70 (5), 586-594. Retrieved from <http://www.jstor.org/stable/2774978> Holstein, J. (2009). Defining Deviance: John Kitsuses Modest Agenda. American Sociologist, 40(1/2), 51-60. doi:10.1007/s12108-008-9058-6 Jetten, J., Hornsey, M. J., Spears, R., Haslam, S., & Cowell, E. (2010). Rule transgressions in groups: The conditional nature of newcomers' willingness to confront deviance. European Journal of Social Psychology, 40(2), 338-348. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. McManamy, J. (2011). Our Favorite Neurotransmitters: They Have Already Changed Your Life. Now Find Out Why. McMans Depression and Bipolar Web, Retrieved from <http://www.mcmanweb.com/neurotransmitters.html>. Sprejtzer, G. M., & Sonenshein, S. (2004). Toward the Construct Definition of Positive Deviance. American Behavioral Scientist, 47(6), 828-847. doi:10.1177/0002764203260212. Tittle, C.A., Ward, D.A., & Grasmick, H. G. (2003). Gender, Age, and Crime/Deviance: A Challenge to Self-Control Theory. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 40 (4), 426-453. Doi: 10.1177/0022427803256074 Wells, D. (2006). Creative Deviance: A Study of the Relationship Between Creative Behavior and the Social Construct of Deviance. College Student Journal, 40(1), 74. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. Younts, W.C. (2008). Status, Endorsement and the Legitimacy of Deviance. Social Forces, 87(1), 561-590. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

13 Appendix A: Survey 1. Gender (circle one): Male Female 2. Age: ________ 3. Race (circle one): a. American Indian or Alaska Native b. Hispanic c. Asian d. Black or African American e. Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander f. White 4. How would you define normal in a social setting? 5. What happens when someone deviates against the normal? 6. Why do you think that people deviate from the normal? 7. In your Opinion what connotation is associated with the term social deviant? (Circle one). a. Negative b. Positive