Norms provide the rules of behavior that make everyday interaction possible. Without these rules we would have to negotiate all our interactions all the time. Norms make it possible for us to take-for-granted that others will act in predictable ways, and others assume that we will do the same. When we resist those norms we can more clearly see how such rules guide our everyday actions.

A group of students decided to break a norm in an unconventional way by actually obeying the law. In this case they actually drove 55 mph, the posted speed limit, together in a group of cars, limiting the ability of those behind them to pass. They filmed their results for a student movie contest organized by Campus MovieFest. To give credit where credit is due, their project, “A Meditation on the Speed Limit,” is described as follows:

Our team from Georgia State University led by Jordan Streiff, Amanda Hunter, Andy Medlin… Competition Rules: use iMovie and make it in a week.

The video is available here.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution includes a story on their experience here.

Their experiment highlights the distinction between “ideal” norms and “real” norms. Ideal norms are the rules for behavior that we claim to abide by. They are the official norms that, in this case, are presented as the legal speed limit. Real norms are the rules for behavior we actually follow (and when it comes to driving, the real norm is to exceed the limit). Part of what makes this video so clever is that it intentionally calls us to recognize the disconnect between our ideal and real norms.

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