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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

More by this author

Amber McNaught

Freelance Writer

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Published on October 30, 2020

11 Essential Philosophy Books That Will Open Your Mind

11 Essential Philosophy Books That Will Open Your Mind

There are numerous ways to build your mindset, but none are as profound as reading philosophy books. Through these books, some of the greatest minds around ask questions and delve deep into thought.

While there isn’t always a clear and distinct answer to the many questions of philosophy, the entire field is a gateway to a higher sense of self. It gets you to think about all manner of things.

Below, we cover some of the essential philosophy books that are best for those who are just starting or looking to expand their mind.

How To Choose a Good Philosophy Book

Before getting to this list, we’ve researched ideal philosophy books to help you expand your mind.

We’ve found that the best philosophy books excel in the following criteria:

  • Complexity – Philosophy isn’t a subject that you can’t dive into immediately and understand everything. The books that we selected are great for people making the first leap.
  • Viewpoint – With philosophy, in particular, the author’s views are more important than in your standard book. We want to ensure the viewpoints and thoughts being discussed still hold up to this day.
  • Open-mindedness – Philosophy is all about asking perplexing questions and unraveling the answer. You might not reach a conclusion in the end, but these books are designed to get you to think.
  • Culture – The last criterion is culture. A lot of these books come from early philosophers from centuries ago or possibly from recent years. These philosophy books should paint a picture of the culture.

1. Meditations

    One that you’ll find on many of these types of lists is Meditations and for good reason. It’s the only document of its kind to ever be made. The book focuses on the private thoughts of the world’s most powerful man who advises himself revolving around making good on his responsibilities and the obligations of his position.

    We know enough about Marcus Aurelius to know that he was trained in stoic philosophy and practiced every night on a series of spirituality exercises. These exercises were designed to make him humble, patient, empathetic, generous, and strong in the face of whatever problem he had to face off. And he faced plenty of problems since he was basically the emperor of roughly a third of the planet.

    All of that is poured into this book, and you are bound to remember a line or more that will be applicable in your life. It’s a philosophy book staple.

    Buy Meditations here.

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    2. Letters From a Stoic

      Similar to Marcus Aurelius, Seneca was another powerful man in Rome. He was a brilliant writer at the time and was the kind of guy to give great advice to his most trusted friends. Fortunately, much of his advice comes in letters, and those letters happen to be in this book. The letters themselves provided advice on dealing with grief, wealth, poverty, success, failure, education, and more.

      While Seneca was a stoic, he has a more practical approach and has borrowed from other schools of thought for his advice. As he said when he was alive, “I don’t care about the author if the line is good.” Similar to Meditations, there are several brilliant lines and advice that are still relevant to this day.

      Buy “Letters From a Stoic” here.

      3. Nicomachean Ethics

        Aristotle was a famous Greek philosopher at the time with profound knowledge. He’s named after a form of logic as well called Aristotelian logic. Through this book, Aristotle writes about the root of all Aristotelian ethics. In other words, this book contains the moral ideas that form a base for pretty much all of western civilization.

        Buy “Nicomachean Ethics” here.

        4. Beyond Good & Evil

          Friedrich Nietzsche played a big role in the philosophical world. He was one of the leading philosophers of the existential movement, and it all came through this particular book. He is a brilliant mind. However, the issue with a lot of his work is that it’s all written in German.

          Fortunately, this book is one of the slightly more accessible ones since it’s translated. Within the book, he breaks down the paradoxes of conventional understandings of morality. By doing this, he sets the stage for a lot of the 20th-century thought process that followed.

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          Buy “Beyond Good & Evil” here.

          5. Meditations on First Philosophy

            In Meditations on First Philosophy, René Descartes breaks his book down into six meditations. The book takes a journalistic style that is structured much like a six-day course of meditation. On day one, he gives instructions on discarding all belief in things that are not guaranteed. After that, he tries to establish what can be known for sure. Similar to Meditations, this is a staple and influential philosophical text that you can pick up.

            Buy “Meditations on First Philosophy” here.

            6. Ethics

              Written by Benedict de Spinoza, this came at a time during the Age of Enlightenment. Enlightenment was a movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries and with that, many schools of thought emerged and were presented through books.

              Out of the many influential philosophy books published back then, Ethics dominated during this period as it discussed the basis of rationalism. Even though we’ve developed further beyond that, Ethics can introduce new ways of thinking from this particular school of thought.

              Buy “Ethics” here.

              7. Critique of Pure Reason

                Immanuel Kant is another great philosopher who brought together two of history’s biggest opposing schools of thought into a single book. Those schools being rational thought and empirical experiential knowledge—knowledge gained through experience.

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                In Critique of Pure Reason, Kant explores human reason and then works to establish its illusions and get down to core constituents. Overall, you can learn more about human behavior and thought processes and thus, open your mind more to how you think and process everything around you.

                Buy “Critique of Pure Reason” here.

                8. On the Genealogy of Morals

                  Another piece of work from Nietzsche that is accessible to us is On the Genealogy of Morals. According to Nietzsche, the purpose of this book is to call attention to his previous writings. That said, it does more than that so you don’t need to worry so much about reading his other books.

                  In this book, he expands on the cryptic aphorisms that he brings up in Beyond Good and Evil and offers a discussion or morality in a work that is more accessible than a lot of his previous work.

                  Buy “On the Genealogy of Morals” here.

                  9. Everything Is F*cked

                    The only book on this list that’s been written in the past few years, this book by Mark Manson aims to explain why we all need hope while also accepting that hope can often lead us to ruin too.

                    While many of the books on this list are all practical, this one is the most realistic one since not even the greatest of philosophical minds could predict things like technology, Twitter, and how our political world has shaped.

                    Manson delivers a profound book that taps into the minds of our ancestral philosophers, such as Plato, Nietzsche, and Tom Waits, and digs deep into various topics and how all of it is connected—religion and politics, our relationship with money, entertainment, and the internet.

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                    Overall, this book serves as a challenge to all of us—a challenge to be more honest with ourselves and connect with the world in a way we’ve never tried before.

                    Buy “Everything Is F*cked” here.

                    10. Reasons and Persons

                      One of the most challenging philosophy books to read on this list, Reasons and Persons will send you on quite the trip. Through a lot of painstaking logic, Derek Parfit shows us some unique perspectives on self-interest, personhood, and whether our actions are good or evil.

                      Considered by many to be an important psychological text around the 20th century, the arguments made about those topics will open your mind to a brand new way of thinking.

                      Buy “Reasons and Persons” here.

                      11. The Republic of Plato

                        Written by Plato himself, this book is the origin of political science and offers a brilliant critique of government. As you would expect, the critique is still important today. If you’re looking to understand the inner thoughts of Plato, this is one of the best books around.

                        Buy “The Republic of Plato” here.

                        Final Thoughts

                        Philosophy books take a while to digest as they provide profound knowledge and leave you with many questions. With many of these philosophy books, you need to take your time with them, and you might have to read through them a few times as well. And with every read, your mind will only expand.

                        More Books to Open Your Mind

                        Featured photo credit: Laura Chouette via unsplash.com

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