Book Definition: A group's expectations regarding what is appropriate and acceptable for its members' attitudes and behaviors.


Theodore Newcomb tested social norms by testing to see if the liberal political views of the faculty at Vermont's Bennington college could influence the conservative views of the students. After his studies, he concluded that the faculty's liberal social norm influenced the students conservative social norm that they had grown up with at home. This was proved by his data which showed that 60% of the class he tested voted for liberal John Kennedy instead of his more conservative opponent Richard Nixon.

In Your Own Words

  • Rules or regulations groups live by some are unspoken.
  • Standards or expectations of behavior of a group.
  • The "style" that people live by in a community. These can differ from country to country, or even state to state.
  • What is considered normal in a society.
  • Things you do because it is expected.
  • Acting in a way because you feel it's normal for the situation.
  • The standards society sets.


  • The social norm in a library is to be quiet because there are others in the library trying to read and study.
  • The social norm when in a nice restaurant is to not burp, not cause disturbances, and to be polite.
  • How to act at a dance recital or a play (clap when appropriate, don't take pictures, etc.)
  • When you go to the prom, the social norm is that girls wear dresses and men wear tuxedos.
  • Having one mother and one father (in most societies).
  • When someone sneezes you say "bless you".
  • Men usually propose to women, not the other way around.

Additional Resources

  3. you are expected to marry the person you are in love with.
    you are expected to marry the person you are in love with.