Back when I started, playing D&D meant little more than going through dungeons, killing monsters and taking their stuff. Sure, we played all the standard modules over time, but still, they were little more than choose-your-own killing order. Eventually, we started paying attention to the story and actually interacting with NPCs as more than just vending machines for selling our loot.
These days, when I write adventures for my group, I try to make sure there’s at least as many social encounters and skill challenges (not to be confused with the skill challenge mechanic from D&D 4E) as there are combat encounters. I’m certainly more than willing to roll with the group when they decide to use clever tactics and their characters skills to avoid a combat (or spend time planning a way to totally obliterate the encounter at little risk to themselves).