Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills @thomhills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Blowing your nose in public – is it really such a crime?

Have you ever been sitting in a lesson or in the silent part of the library with a cold and had this overwhelming urge to blow your nose? You take out the half used tissue from your pocket and lift it to your nose- but wait- you can already feel the stares of onlookers thinking “are you really about to blow your nose… in public?!” You find yourself embarrassed; this natural biological reaction of clearing your nasal cavities of mucus to aid breathing has become some kind of a taboo! Embarrassed, you slowly return your tissue to your pocket and walk to a private area where you can blow your nose in peace. Why do we feel this embarrassment? Lun et al. (2007) argues that this is due to Social proof; we determine what correct behaviour is by what others deem as correct. It is most influential when those others are similar to us or the situation is ambiguous. In the library you look to other students to determine what to do, the fact that no-one else is blowing their nose and you receive horrified looks as though you have just committed a murder whenever you attempt to blow has forced you into submission.

I guess society has more control over us than I ever imagined.  

Lun, J., Sinclair, S., Whitchurch, E. R., & Glenn, C. (2007). (Why) do I think what you think? Epistemic social turning and implicit prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93, 957-972.

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