Codes of conduct

Some people wait their turn at taxi stands while others just barge in. Jaime Puebla / The National
Some people wait their turn at taxi stands while others just barge in. Jaime Puebla / The National

How do you react if you see a stranger flouting common rules of public conduct, such as by talking on a mobile phone in a cinema or tossing an empty cup on to the pavement? Do you confront them or ignore it?

We know that the reason humans function so well together in societies is because they keep each other in check when agreed social norms are violated. But an experiment conducted in Germany by researchers from NYU Abu Dhabi and the universities of Innsbruck and Cologne suggests that most people are reluctant to intervene when they see a violation of societal norms – and even more so when the offence is more egregious – because they fear retaliation.

What does this mean for the UAE? In a country of more than 200 nationalities, it can be hard to know exactly what the norms are. With queuing, for example, what is normal for British people is not, say, for Egyptians. Some people wait their turn at taxi stands while others just barge in, or give preference to the elderly and infirm.

While queuing and littering are obvious examples, we are asking our readers to think of less obvious behavious that are normal to some people, but offensive to others.

Published: February 12, 2017 04:00 AM

SHARE