Saturday, October 9, 2010

social psychology : me vs. 'the antisocial nod'

When you're walking down the street, and you are coming close to passing an individual, do you ever notice what I like to call 'the antisocial nod'?  You're staring ahead (if you're not texting... sheesh), you make brief eye contact with the person you're approaching, they look down/dip their head (as do you, most-likely), then slowly bring your head back up and look forward as you pass. I've picked this up since I was in college and have noticed it to be pretty common in other cities in the good ol' midwest. Has anyone else noticed this?

For the past few years since I've been in and out of college and into grad school, I've tried to avoid this occurrence, at least on my part.  If eye contact is made, I might then stare ahead, but not look down, etc.  Not too much difference on the others' part. I just don't like being an ant and going my merry way, avoiding people.

While I was walking to the local hospital for a flu shot the other day, I decided to entertain my inner nerd again.

For every person I approached on the sidewalk, walking toward me, I would keep my head up, make some eye contact, and smile a little but not say anything. I would then look ahead (don't wanna be rude, right?) but not completely disregard the person.

Most of the time, people did the typical 'antisocial nod' and avoided eye contact. One lady said hi, but she also was walking two dogs, and it seems that people who are walking dogs often are sociable to others on the same sidewalk, being apologetic for their dogs barking or sniffing, etc.

One person however surprised me, and my assumptions proved me wrong about this individual.  I find myself to be fairly multiculturally aware, but I assumed this individual would do the 'nod'. He appeared to be hispanic, was wearing a black 'do rag, saggy pants, you know.  

He said 'hi' to me.  Then I replied with a 'hi', and we passed each other, going our separate ways.

He was the only person who said hi... the person whose appearance, in our white-dominant culture, would have probably made people assume he might be the most antisocial person out there in comparison.  I passed numerous hospital staff, students, and other pedestrians on this walk, and he was the one.

I love when people prove me wrong.



  1. Hi there. Happened to stumble upon your blog and for some reason, felt like leaving a comment! Hope everything is ok (as there are no recent posts).

    1. Hi! Thanks for stopping by. Everything is ok--after I finished school I got sucked into work and this blog went by the wayside, like my Etsy site. I intend to bring it to life again someday. Thanks for giving me a little push :)


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