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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.