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
  • 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

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

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