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Former good article nomineeBreaching experiment was a Social sciences and society good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There may be suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
Article milestones
November 30, 2012Good article nomineeNot listed
Did You Know
A fact from this article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page in the "Did you know?" column on December 9, 2012.
The text of the entry was: Did you know ... that a breaching experiment involves studying other people's reactions to the violation of basic social rules?

Edit/Expansion: merging sociology and social psych approaches to breaching experiments[edit]

I just wanted to provide an overview of my plans for expanding this page based on the outlines currently provided. I started by expanding the opening intro explaining what a "breaching experiment" actually is, as students in both introductory sociology and social psych are often assigned this as a field assignment, but have no idea what it actually means.

Along those lines, I am adding sections trading the idea as it has developed across disciplines. I was able to trace the theoretical notions of creation of social meaning and norms, as well as the importance of complying with norms in social settings to Erving Goffman. I believe Garfinkel was thinking along these same lines at the same time (1960s) so I follow with discussion of breaching experiment as a research tool in ethnomethodolgy and some examples of how Garfinkel had his grad students do this informally. This is also covered under the Harold Garfinkel Wiki page, so I'm trying not to overlap too much.

Finally, social psychologist Stanley Milgram, famous for the Milgram Obedience experiments, carried out two "social norm breaching" studies, which I describe in the final section in order to give readers an idea of how social psychology has also approached this issue. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ioanaschmidt (talkcontribs) 01:13, 18 November 2012 (UTC)[reply]


I'm not allowed to edit articles but some mention of Harold Garfinkel and his theory of Ethnomethodology. A large part of his work was dedicated to breaching experiments which he used to highlight the hidden method we use to create sense and order in our lifes.

The example 'The literalist' in the article was used often by him too. Other examples that come to mind include getting students to act as a lodger in their parents house, and breaching games of tic-tac-toe.

added a mention and link both to Garfinkel and to ethnomethodology

Earl R. Babbie cite[edit]

Could we please get a cite for the Babbie point? Tarheelcoxn 00:10, 17 October 2006 (UTC)[reply]

"Boiling Points"[edit]

Should the Boiling Points reference be deleted? There seem to be many examples that could be offered to illustrate the experiment as well; this one seems as though it could be more a promotion than is necessary.--Plaidfury 23:30, 13 October 2005 (UTC)[reply]

Boiling Points is interesting, but only tangentially related. Maybe we need to add 'A stream of consciousness' to what Wikipedia is not ... and it does look promotional, as you mention. eritain 22:53, 24 October 2005 (UTC)[reply]
I agree that Boiling Points should probably be removed. It is sensationalistic -- it's not really what breaching experiments are about. Katxena.

Literalist and elevator[edit]

I removed two "examples" of breaching experiments because I am somewhat doubtful that they have actually been conducted. (Well, the elevator one possibly, but the "literalist" one seems very dubious.) I think we need to have some sources here referring to particular, actual experiments conducted by psychologists, and not just "hey, that would be a cool experiment" ideas. Has anyone actually done the "literalist" experiment? How would you possibly set that up (since we don't say "hi how are you" to strangers, it seems like it would be very hard to control.) Sdedeo 15:35, 17 November 2005 (UTC)[reply]

(Re: Garfinkel -- I haven't been able to find any evidence that Garfinkel conducted a "literalist" breaching experiment, or indeed ever talked about it in a significant manner. Indeed, the only hits for a goole of Garfinkel's name and the term "literalist" point back to the earlier versions of this page -- sigh.) Sdedeo 15:39, 17 November 2005 (UTC)[reply]

Example 1 in Action[edit]

"The inexplicable do-gooder": Social science researcher Earl R. Babbie writes that "it is a social rule that ordinary citizens should not pick up garbage from the street, or mend street signs, or otherwise fix problems." So, umm, does anyone know when it will be revealed that Wikipedia is one giant Breaching experiment? -HiFiGuy 23:14, 17 January 2006 (UTC)[reply]

An excellent question! Sdedeo (tips) 04:09, 18 January 2006 (UTC)[reply]

I see what you are saying and as you can see by the success of Wikipedia that it works very well. Now to figure out how to change the norms of the real world to be more like Wikipedia... Guy who couldn't get a username (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 22:02, 5 December 2013 (UTC)[reply]


I added a references section to this entry, but I wasn't certain how to format it. Also, I wanted to note that in my experience (I'm a sociologist) breaching experiments are not commonly done anymore by psychologists or sociologists. However, they are an important teaching tool -- they are often used to teach students about social norms. I'm not certain how to include any of this in the article, since it's just my own experience. I don't have any references for this. Advice? Ideas? Katxena.

The concept of "personal space" is still taught via breaching experiments, and from what I've seen of printed enclopedias it qualifies as a relevant example QEF. The broader sociological field of interpersonal creative capacity is still being investigated by behaviorists, isn't it? As such, you might want to work downwards if standardised references are difficult to find (I realise that the bulk of studies into breaching social norms were conducted in the 1970s, and that scientific journals typically disclude any research conducted prior to the late 1980s as a point of order) --Ottre (talk) 17:08, 6 December 2007 (UTC)[reply]


It seems to me that a breaching experiment, since it relies on the reactions of unsuspecting members of the public, by definition cannot obtain consent from experimental subjects prior to experimentation. Is there any literature discussing the ethics of this type of study? (talk) 22:45, 14 August 2012 (UTC)[reply]

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Breaching experiment/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: TheSpecialUser (talk · contribs) 14:29, 27 November 2012 (UTC)[reply]

    • The main reason for the failure is lack of sources and verification issue. The article has 13 sources from which the content cannot be verified much. One should provide links to either ISBN or any site link where the link is present. The article has many facts unsourced so it qualifies for a quick fail. Other issues include, MoS corrections, c/e, and the topic is presented in a bit confusing manner if seen from readers point of view who knows nothing about the topic. The prose is ok but needs few MoS fixes as well as large number of sources. These are tough to fix in a month or some so I'm sorry to say but it is a quick fail. TheSpecialUser TSU 03:14, 30 November 2012 (UTC)[reply]