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Behavioral Rules in Public Places

Introduction

Any society has certain norms and rules of behavior, which all the members are expected to keep to. The way people behave often serves as a sign of their good manners and respect for other people. For instance, people are expected to avoid bad words in civilized conversations or to wear particular clothes for special occasions. The rules of behavior differ depending on the culture and sometimes it is often the case that what is normal in one culture is absolutely unacceptable in another. However, the rules of behavior may differ within one and the same culture as well. This depends on the types of public places which a person visits and the people who surround this person. This paper is going to illustrate that people tend to behave differently in such public places as McDonald’s, a fast-food restaurant, and Daniel, a four-star restaurant of French cuisine in New York City.

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Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to interview people visiting the public places under consideration and, basing on their interviews, to identify whether the way a person behaves depends on the place he/she visits. This paper is also going to demonstrate how often people break the generally accepted rules of behavior in public places and whether this depends on how prestigious the place is. Finally, this research is aimed at identifying whether people who visit expensive restaurants break the rules of behavior less often than those who visit ordinary fast-food restaurants.

Literature Review

Rules of behavior exist in any public place with cafés and restaurants being largely preoccupied with keeping to them. Memorizing all the rules of behavior in restaurants is rather difficult because each place has its own peculiarities. Bunge and Wallis note that “no two restaurants are physically identical, but because rules operate at a conceptual level, they are relevant to physically different situations” (23). These authors provide an example of such situations; for instance, they state that the visitors “learn to abstract the general rules that underlie ordering a meal, such as “wait to be seated,” ” order from the menu,” and pay the bill” (Bunge and Wallis 23). This is how the rules of behavior in such places are formed. Quite supportive of the idea that there are certain rules of behavior applicable to all the restaurants is Tiger who outlines basic rules, such as keeping the voice low, not ramming the chair when being seated, keeping arms and legs within one’s own space, etc (Tiger 199). In general, numerous works have been published on how to behave in a restaurant and most of the scholars agree with the idea that there are certain key rules for a person to know when eating out (Bunge and Wallis 23; Tiger 199; Salmi 116). Other authors, for instance, Pantley, mention such key rules as being specific when ordering food to avoid misunderstandings, using silverware correctly, avoid bickers or speaking in a loud voice, keeping the comments to oneself, and the like rules (Pantley 250). These, of course, are the rules of how a person is expected to behave in any public place, but they may serve as a beginning of learning to behave oneself in a restaurant. These are universal rules which should always be kept in mind and they hardly depend on the prestige of the restaurant or the people who visit it. The study presented in this paper outlines more precisely how people visiting different public places observe the rules established in them.

Expectations

This paper has two major hypotheses. Hypothesis number one is that people who visit sumptuous restaurants, such as Daniel, are aware of the rules of behavior that are accepted in such places and rarely break these rules. If this hypothesis is correct, this would mean that people whose financial standing allows visiting expensive restaurants are more well-mannered than those who dine at McDonald’s. The number two hypothesis is that people who eat out at fast-food restaurants also know about the rules of behavior in them, and also observe them with rare exceptions. However, if the second hypothesis is incorrect, the research will help to find out the reasons why people break these rules of behavior. It is expected that the major reasons are, firstly, because nobody does it and, secondly, because nobody controls it.

Methods

The main method of data collection for this study is interviewing. Firstly, 15 people who visit McDonald’s were interviewed, which was followed by interviewing the same number of the visitors of Daniel. To make the interviews less obtrusive and time-consuming for the visitors, they have been carried out in the oral form. Each of the respondents had to answer 8 questions regarding keeping to the rules of behavior in a definite public place (Appendix A). This adds a certain bias to the results of the study, but this bias was further eliminated by assigning each of the participants a separate number and recording the results under this number. After finishing the interviews, the results were carefully evaluated and interpreted.

Results and Analysis

The data collected by means of the interviews have revealed that the type of the public place rarely depends on the rules of behavior which it imposes on its visitors. In most cases, the observance of the rules depended on how well-mannered a person was in general. Here it should be mentioned that none of the restaurants had written rules of behavior. Nevertheless, certain data need further discussion. The following table presents information on how many people are aware of the rules of behavior in public places and how often they observe them:

Table 1. Frequency of Breaking the Rule of Behavior and Receiving Punishment

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Respondent # McDonald’s Daniel
Rule (Yes/No) Breaking of the rule (Yes/No, frequency) Penalty received (Yes/No) Rule (Yes/No) Breaking of the rule (Yes/No) Penalty received (Yes/No)
1 Yes No Yes No
2 Yes Yes (often) No Yes No
3 Yes No No Yes No
4 Yes No No Yes Yes Yes
5 Yes No No Yes No
6 Yes Yes (often) No Yes No
7 No Yes No
8 Yes No Yes
9 Yes No Yes No
10 No Yes (2-3) Yes (remark) Yes Yes Yes
11 No Yes No
12 Yes Yes (often) No Yes No
13 Yes Yes (often) No Yes No
14 Yes Yes (often) No Yes No
15 Yes Yes (often) No Yes No
Total 70% Y: 60%; N: 40%; Y: 10%; N: 90 Y: 100%; No: 0% Y: 20%; No: 80% Y: 100%

Thus, the table shows that 70% of the respondents from McDonald’s are aware of the basic rules of behavior in this place. Among the most frequently named rules there were “You have to throw out the tray into a special container” and “You cannot come with your own food or alcoholic beverages”. Three of the respondents are recorded as not knowing the rules because two of them could not recollect at least one and one respondent said, “What rules? You can even eat with your hands there”, which was not counted as an answer. Almost half of the respondents (40%) have never broken these rules (or did not admit this). Out of those respondents who knew about the rules 60% have broken them often (from these one person has broken them only a few times). Ten percent of these people received a penalty which consisted of a mere remark. The situation is better in the case with Daniel where all the respondents named at least one rule of behavior in a restaurant. The most widespread was “You have to wear appropriate clothes”, “You have to use silverware correctly”, and “You cannot talk or laugh loudly”. Of all the respondents only 20% have broken the rules at least once and each of these has received punishment (those were people who came in inappropriate clothes and were not allowed to come in).

In case with the exact rules which were broken, they differed depending on the restaurant. Thus, in McDonald’s the most frequent answer to the question (90 %) about the rule was “You have to throw the tray into a special container”, while Daniel’s respondents (90 % as well) stated that it was coming to the restaurant in inappropriate clothes. All the respondents (in both the public places), even those who have broken the rules at least once, recognized the rules as necessary; however, only the respondents from McDonald’s stated that they were flexible. The following table demonstrates why people break the rules of behavior in public places:

Table 2. Reasons for Breaking the Rules of Behavior (basing on how many people have broken them)

Reason McDonald’s (7 respondents) Daniel (2 respondents)
No one watched 30%
Everybody does it 40%
I did not know 10% 50%
I always do it 10%
Other 10% (I was in a hurry) 50% (I did not have time to change)

As it can be seen from the table, the main reasons for breaking the rules of behavior by the McDonald’s’ respondents were based on the careless attitude towards these rules, while Daniel’s respondents may be stated to have more or less valid excuses for doing so.

Conclusion

Judging from the results of the interviews which were based on the respondents’ answers to simple questions about the rules of behavior in public places, it can be stated that more expensive restaurants, even though they have stricter rules of behavior, manage to make their visitors to observe these rules. Fast food restaurants (McDonald’s in particular) have rules of behavior which count more on the visitors’ decency; as the study has shown, the main reason why the rules are broken is that no one controls them. With no punishment for breaking the rules, more and more people start doing it, which further increases the rates of those who ignore the rules of behavior in public places. Daniel’s case, however, has shown that the rules of behavior are broken rarely and when they are, the visitors have valid excuses for this. Thus, the study confirmed the first hypothesis and disproved the second one.

Interview Questions

  1. Do you know any rules of how to behave in this restaurant? What are some examples of them?
  2. How did you learn about each of these rules?
  3. How flexible do you believe this rule is?
  4. What do you think can happen if you break this rule?
  5. Have you ever broken this rule?
  6. Under what conditions did you do it?
  7. What was the penalty when you broke the rule?
  8. Do you think these rules are fair and necessary?

Works Cited

Bunge, Sylvia A. and Wallis, Jonathan D. Neuroscience of Rule-Guided Behavior. Oxford: Oxford University Press US, 2008.

Pantley, Elizabeth. The No-Cry Discipline Solution: Gentle Ways to Encourage Good Behavior Without Whining, Tantrums, and Tears. New York: McGraw Hill Professional, 2007.

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Salmi, Noelle. Frommer’s San Francisco with Kids. New York: Frommer’s, 2007.

Tiger, Caroline. How to Behave: A Guide to Modern Manners for the Socially Challenged. New York: Quirk Books, 2003.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 15). Behavioral Rules in Public Places. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/behavioral-rules-in-public-places/

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 15). Behavioral Rules in Public Places. https://studycorgi.com/behavioral-rules-in-public-places/

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"Behavioral Rules in Public Places." StudyCorgi, 15 Nov. 2021, studycorgi.com/behavioral-rules-in-public-places/.

1. StudyCorgi. "Behavioral Rules in Public Places." November 15, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/behavioral-rules-in-public-places/.


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StudyCorgi. "Behavioral Rules in Public Places." November 15, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/behavioral-rules-in-public-places/.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Behavioral Rules in Public Places." November 15, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/behavioral-rules-in-public-places/.

References

StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Behavioral Rules in Public Places'. 15 November.

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