Social Norms And Social Behavior

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Social norms are behaviours which members of a society use as an indicator in how to act. There are different kinds of norms including moral norms, as well as descriptive and injunctive norms. Social norms are obeyed so avoid the disapproval and social sanction of the group. They function to provide clarity in a situation where behaviour may be new or ambiguous. There is some evidence to suggest that social norms can be used to affect negative behaviours, such as littering.
What are they?
Social norms have been demonstrated affecting human behaviour systematically and powerfully (Cialdini et al., 1991). Social norms are viewed by some as the “glue” of human societies, and it has been noted that social norms are unique to human behaviour (Schmidt
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Further, we are motivated to conform to social norms because of human’s aversion to being punished via social sanction or disapproved of by others (Schmidt & Tomasello, 2012). Humans also have a desire to belong to group so will conform to norms and do things the “right” way in order to do so (Schmidt & Tomasello, 2012). Inclusion into the group also includes the upholding of the norms and the sanctioning of others in the group when norms are violated (Schmidt & Tomasello, 2012). Schmidt and Tomasello (2012) argue that this enforcement of norms is a portion of an essential part towards becoming a member of the social group. Additionally, conforming to the social norms of the group is seen as appropriate because collective wisdom serves well the individual and the group (Lapinski & Rimal, 2005). However, Lapinski and Rimal (2005) indicate that popularity of a behaviour within a group is not enough to ensure compliance. The individual will only obey the norm either if they believe there will be benefits, they have a strong connection with the group, or they view the norm as central to their

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