Say that a Flowerew (a wolf which turns into a human on the full moon) is pretending to be human during their human phase. Or that a kitsune who has been a fox for their life so far is trying their hand at faking humanity. Or perhaps an alien has beamed down to save Earth from impending disaster without breaking the Prime Directive.

I want to give some way for them to be identifiable based on failing to pick up on social cues or not understanding social norms. Not things which are necessarily massively obvious; just social norms which it would be difficult to grasp for someone not growing up in today's human society.

What's the most likely social cue/norm for them to struggle with the most?

EDIT: Yeah, this question was too broad, so instead, I ask: what social norms would a wild animal who had been metamorphosised into a human struggle with the most? They are intelligent in that they can speak and have a wide vocabulary, but do not know what to say or how to act beyond what they imitate from people they observe.

As for the target society, let's say Western society, e.g. the USA and any place with similar social rules.

EDIT TO EDIT: I'll make it even more precise: how would a (wild) fox that has been transformed into a human struggle to follow social norms/rules in the USA?


closed as too broad by Alexander, rek, Aify, James Feb 8 '18 at 22:10

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ It would depend a lot on the species of this Infiltrator, wolves and foxes have very different social structures for example. A wolf could be baffled by a veritable cult of individuality he will see, the lack of respect to the olders, etc etc. But a fox would have a complete different vision. And an alien? Well, it would depend a lot on this alien's society. $\endgroup$ – Sasha Feb 8 '18 at 21:05
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    $\begingroup$ We really don't have one human society, a browse through travel.se or expatriates.se probably would turn up some issues humans have switching societies. $\endgroup$ – user25818 Feb 8 '18 at 21:21
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    $\begingroup$ This is far too broad. Your question has both the nature of the infiltrator and the target society (there's more than one) as variables. $\endgroup$ – rek Feb 8 '18 at 21:42
  • $\begingroup$ What I find interesting about the question is the idea that its an animal who turns into a human. So basically it would still behave like the animal it originally was. It would look like a guy behaving like an animal. If this were an intelligent alien one could assume that it would use its intelligence to figure things out and pretend to understand things he cant figure out. But an animal would still behave like an animal. Imagine placing the animals brain into a human body. Actually I think he'd freak! $\endgroup$ – Len Feb 8 '18 at 21:47
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    $\begingroup$ I think this question could be answered if two things happened. 1) You have to pick a particular culture. Human culture is in no way homogeneous. Humans can't even pretend to fit into each other's cultures. 2) You have to establish how familiar/similar/dissimilar the culture is compared to your creature's culture. Course at that point odds are you will end up answering your own question. $\endgroup$ – James Feb 8 '18 at 22:12


I'm going to write this as if they have infiltrated a western society, because that's my viewpoint. If someone else can come up with some for other societies, that would be great.

Words That Mean Nothing

We say things like "How are you doing?" or "How was your day?" without actually expecting others. However, if someone does answer fully, it probably won't give away the fact that he or she is not human.

In Public

In public, unless you know someone or are asking for directions, we don't normally talk to others. If I went up to a stranger and tried talking to them, they'd probably walk away confused. Again, this won't give away that he or she is not human.

We also don't have conversations with ourselves, or do other generally strange things (I'm sure you can think of a few). The problem is, we don't typically think much of it. I'm sure you've seen a few strange people in public. Did you assume they weren't human?


This is where it becomes obvious you aren't a human. If you try to use your hands to eat something like a steak, you will most likely have some suspicions directed at you. If somebody tried using a fork to eat soup, that would also draw suspicion. This is mainly because we've been eating since we're young, and are expected to know how to do it.


What will really give you away is being surprised by how everyday objects function. Unless they have been observing Earth/humans very well, they will be incapable of using some objects, and will stand out when they are surprised by something like a computer, a phone, or an elevator is used. Overall, it should be the being missing knowledge of an object, not a custom that will really give them away.

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site. Check out the tour and help center to get an idea of how the site works. Happy world building. $\endgroup$ – James Feb 8 '18 at 22:13

There are many possible answers, because not all animal social cues are the same, and not all human social cues are the same.

The biggest thing that an animal-turned-human would have to overcome is that it is sapient, i.e. it has wisdom and self-awareness. Homo Sapiens translates to 'wise man' for a reason. If an animal became a human then it would first have to deal with the fact that every other human is also self-aware and that every action they perform has an effect on the world, something which humans begin to understand around the age of 2-4.

However, in the case of these animals being aware enough to want to try imitating a human, we can assume they got past this barrier. Now the answer breaks into many, many options, because of the differences within animal and human societies, let alone the differences between them. From the perspective of a western-society, here are some potential issues:

-Small talk: "How's it going?" "Good, you?" "Good". There are standard questions, statements, etc. that we say when we see someone. Sincerely answering back at length would be odd.

-Food: Humans know how food works, and we can store food for when we need it. If you start eating as much as you as soon as you see food because you instinctively don't know when your next meal will be, it definitely will seem odd.

-Possession: They may understand that entering someone's house is like roaming into their territory(though it is weird that humans don't pee on their doors), however knowing that objects outside of their territory is owned by them could lead to weird behavior. Additional problems will rise since they won't expect people outside of the humans pack(the police) to defend the human's property rights.

-Money: A completely foreign concept to an animal. They will likely be caught stealing often.

  • $\begingroup$ Your opening line sorta indicates you knew the question was too broad. Please refrain from answering questions that need to be reworked/closed. $\endgroup$ – James Feb 8 '18 at 22:12

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