Social Norms: Characteristics of Social Norms and Two Types of Norms

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Who is expected by whom to do what or refrain from doing?

What or in what circumstances is a social norm, according to HM Johnson.

Social Norms

Social Norms

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  • Guide, control and predict human behaviours

  • Confirms to community expectations of behaviours - degree of conformity

  • It is the pattern setting limits on individual behaviours and expecting more of that behaviours

  • In short norms are the blueprints for behaviours

  • Example can be the young children must obey the elderly people


  • Coined by Sheriff, M. in the “Psychology of Social Norms”,1936 .. “the common standards of ideas”

  • Norms are the guides to conduct

  • It is expected to exist

  • Set of behaviours expectations

  • Cultural image of HOW people should act

  • Also known as standards of group behaviours

  • Expected ways of acting and feeling

  • It is the foundation of social structure

Definition by Young and Mac

  • Norms refer to the group shared expectations

  • The rules that guide behaviours in everyday situations and are derived from value

  • A norm is a ruler standard that governs our conduct in the social situation in which we participate

Characteristics of Social Norms

  • They are universal

  • Related to factual order

  • Incorporate value judgements

  • Relative to situations and groups

  • Not always obeyed by all

  • Vary with sanctions

  • Internalized by people

There Are Two Types of Norms

Personal or private norms : norms are purely individual in nature and reside within individuals only. They influence the behaviours of the individuals for example resolutions on New Year’s Day or sticking to a timetable

School Timetable

School Timetable

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Social Norms

  • Social or operative social norms are backed by sanctions

  • Violation of which invites penalties

  • Those who do not conform are reported

  • Punishment and rewards


1. A norm is a

  1. Specific guide to action

  2. Culture of society

  3. Guideline for socialization

  4. Guideline for social interaction

Ans. a

2. Norms are enforced by

  1. Positive sanction

  2. Negative sanction

  3. Order

  4. Positive and negative sanction

Ans. d

3. Every culture contains a large number of guidelines which direct conduct in a particular situation. Such guidelines are known as

  1. Norms

  2. Culture

  3. Folkways

  4. Mores

Ans. a



#Sociological concepts

#Basic Concepts