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What Are Social Norms? You Follow Them Every Day Without Even Noticing

What Are Social Norms? You Follow Them Every Day Without Even Noticing

Social Norms are unwritten rules that are acceptable in a society. They provide us with an expected idea of how to behave in a particular social group or culture. Norms change according to the environment or situation and may change over time. Social norms operate to build and maintain society.

Social norms are informal understandings that govern the behavior of a society. Norms can be cultural products that include values, customs, and traditions. These represent individuals’ basic knowledge of what others do and think they should. When we follow the norms of our society, we are participating to either maintain or challenge it. The idea of norms provides a key to understanding social influence in general. Norms provide order in society. It is difficult to see how human society could operate without social norms. Human beings need norms to guide and direct their behavior to provide order. We need order in social relationships and to make sense of and understanding of each other’s actions.

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What are the effects of breaking social norms?

Breaking social norms can make you a hero or an outcast. Many admire individuality, and breaking a small social norm can get you noticed. Breaking social norms has no legal recourse and social norms change with time. But there always exists consequences for breaking social norms. A person may face ostracization from society. In history, this was a literal removal or banishment of the person from the society. Today ostracization may not be geographical. When you break social norms, people stop associating with you. You may lose your job. You can get sent out of a homeowners association or other group. You end up alone. Because society is not comfortable with your behavior, many will refuse to associate.

Here are some everyday norms you have been following without even noticing.

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Chewing with your mouth closed.

This is a considered an important social norm. Many consider it bad manners to see people chewing with their mouths open. It is quite disgusting to see the half-eaten remnants of another human’s meal. We bet You didn’t know this was a social norm and we bet you have been chewing with your mouth closed.

Unpleasant odors

It is an important social norm to take precautions so that you don’t offend anyone with the way you smell. When out in public, be sure to wear clothing that is clean and fresh [1] . Wear deodorant to prevent body odor s. If you are the type that grow beard, endeavor to take care of it. If you wear a perfume or cologne, be sure to only use a very small amount to prevent the scent being overwhelming. Do not expel gas in public either [2] . If you must do so, find a public restroom. Brush your teeth to freshen your breath before leaving home. Now, we are sure you do these every day.

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Appropriate Dressing

It is important that you dress in a way that is appropriate for the place that you are going. If you are going to an event where people dress in a formal or a semi-formal way, do the same. For example, do not wear blue jeans and a t-shirt to a cocktail party. Do not dress in a vulgar manner. But, if you are going to a museum or a movie theater, it is acceptable to dress in a casual way. In other words, try and dress the way you think others will dress at the place you are going.

Watch what you say in public

When you are out where there are a lot of people within ear-shot and eye-shot, mind your verbal and non-verbal communication. Swear words are inappropriate in public. Do not use words which may offend other people, especially when there are children around. Do not argue in public and do not say things that could be critical. Refrain from doing things like pointing at people and using rude hand gestures.

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Phone etiquette

For mobile phone usage, here are some acceptable norms. Say hello when answering and goodbye when you hang up [3]. Reply to all texts and voice mails. Do not refuse to take a message. Do not lie if someone has the wrong number. Do not tell telemarketers you will call them back. Do not pretend you are an answering machine (that’s horrible).

When in elevator

For Elevators, Nod or say hello to others on the elevator. Face the front. Never push extra buttons, only the one for your floor. Do not go elevator surfing. Never stand right by someone if you are the only two people on board. Do not say “I’ll wait for the next one” if only one person is on board.

Norms about public behavior

Shake hands when you meet someone. Have direct eye contact with the person you are speaking with. Consume alcohol in moderation. Unless the movie theater’s filled up, never sit right next to someone. Do not stand close enough to someone to touch arms or hips. Do not curse in polite conversation. Do not pick your nose. Wear clothing, especially of a similar style that others wear. Say please and thank you. Be kind to the elderly, like opening a door or giving up your seat. Go to the back of the line. Don’t invade someone’s personal space. When at someone’s home, ask permission, such as turning on the television or using the bathroom. Stop at a red light. Go at a green light. Pull over for emergency vehicles. Drive on the right side of the road in the United States. Do not be promiscuous. Try to avoid burping or farting in public. Flush the toilet. Say “please” when asking for something. Say “thank you” when someone does something for you. Call to let someone know you will be late.

I bet you have been following these norms every day without even noticing.

Reference

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Amber McNaught

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on October 14, 2020

Psychologists Say It’s Really Possible To Change Our Personality

Psychologists Say It’s Really Possible To Change Our Personality

Do you feel that you can become a better person, but your personality is hindering you from doing so?

Are you one of those people who is making a conscious effort to change, but no matter how hard you try, you remain a prisoner of your personality traits?

Don’t lose hope – it is indeed possible to change your personality!

Personality Crisis

According to the widely accepted model of personality with over 50 years worth of research and study, there are five dimensions of our personality, known as the “Big Five:”

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  • Extraversion: People with high levels of this personality dimension are much more outgoing and tend to be more comfortable in social situations compared to others.
  • Agreeableness: Your level in this dimension determines whether you are more cooperative with other people or competitive (even to the point of being manipulative) with other people.
  • Conscientiousness: Thoughtful people who have high levels of this trait dimension are much more detail-oriented and driven.
  • Neuroticism: Moodiness and the propensity for sadness are associated with people who possess excessive amounts of this personality dimension.
  • Openness: Imaginative and insightful people are very receptive to change and new experiences, whereas those who are not are much more stubborn and reluctant to try out new things.

These personality dimensions are further shaped by our genetics and our upbringing, the latter of which also involves our living environment and culture. These factors ultimately help shape your personality as you grow up, some of which could lead to personality disorders.

However, your personality is never fully set in stone. In fact, it is not uncommon for adults to tweak their personalities as they prepare themselves for new challenges and life situations. For example, stubborn partners will find themselves making an effort to become more cooperative with their loved ones if they want their relationship to work. While these instances may not necessarily lead to positive results, it is evidence enough that changing your personality is not impossible.

The question that begs to be asked is this:

How Much Effort Are People Willing to Put in to Make That Change?

According to a recent study at the University of Illinois, only 13% of respondents were satisfied with their personalities – most of them wanted to change for the better. However, instead of encouraging these people to get help from experts or take courses, R. Chris Fraley and Nathan Hudson conducted different tests instead to see if the respondents can quantify their personalities to make the necessary changes. The results of the test were published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, which you can view here.

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The first experiment involved an introductory psychology class, who were educated about the Big Five personality dimensions and asked to grade their personalities by filling out a rating form. They were then asked if they wanted something to change in their personality over the 16-week period of this study. To do this, they needed to find a way to change their undesirable personality traits using goals and metrics to track their progress.

Among the 135 participants, half joined the “change plan” condition, in which they were given writing assignments over the same period to assess the changes they need to make for their personalities. Every week, they were also required to complete additional writing assignments to evaluate their progress further. The other half were not asked to write – instead, they were placed in a controlled setting and were provided feedback about their development.

The second experiment involved roughly the same number of participants. The only variable that Fraley and Hudson changed is that, instead of focusing on personality traits, they targeted daily behavior related to the traits that defined their personalities.

The result of both experiments demonstrates the capacity for people to make breakthroughs with their personalities. Participants were able to make strides by getting better scores on personality traits that they wanted to improve. However, the comprehensive change plans only had a modest impact on the actual changes in personality. Also, the 16-week period for the study was not enough for the participants to make the drastic changes one might expect.

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Steps to a Better You

Now that you are aware that you can still change your personality, below are some proactive steps that you can take so you can make the change as early as possible.

1. Do not let “labels” define you

You are not a shy and timid person. Nor are you a cold and callous one. You are simply a person full of potential to change and become a better version of yourself every day. You can be anything, as long as you put your mind to it.

2. Do good deeds

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Getting rid of a terrible personality can start with doing something good. A study published in Motivation and Emotion suggests that engaging in acts of kindness allows you to overcome anxiety. Letting the focus from yourself shift to others leads to more opportunities for social engagement.

3. Just wait

If you cannot force change, then let it come to you. According to a study conducted at the University of Manchester and the London School of Economics, change that naturally takes place is not out of the question. The more you undergo transformative experiences in life as you grow older, the more chances that changes in your personality take place.

At the end of the day, change is inevitable. As mentioned above, our personalities are shaped by our experiences in life. By exposing ourselves to positive experiences that we can live by and keeping an open mind for our own identities, there is no doubt that change for the better is indeed possible.

Featured photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/GmoHIZ61eMo via unsplash.com

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