What Are Norms in Social Psychology?


Diego Sanchez

Norms are an integral part of social psychology, and they play a significant role in shaping our behavior in society. In simple terms, norms are the unwritten rules that govern our behavior and interactions with others. They serve as a framework for what is acceptable or unacceptable in a particular society or group.

Types of Norms:

There are two types of norms: explicit and implicit. Explicit norms are those that are openly stated, communicated, and enforced by the group.

For example, traffic rules and laws enforced by the government are explicit norms. On the other hand, implicit norms are unspoken rules that guide behavior but are not openly stated or communicated. For example, standing at a certain distance from someone during a conversation is an implicit norm.

Functions of Norms:

Norms serve several functions in social psychology. Firstly, they provide predictability and stability to our interactions with others.

By following norms, we can anticipate how others will behave in different situations. Secondly, they help us form group identity by creating a sense of belongingness among members of the group who share common values and beliefs. Thirdly, norms regulate our behavior by setting standards for what is appropriate or inappropriate in certain situations.


Conformity refers to adjusting one’s behavior to align with the group’s norms or expectations. There are several reasons why individuals conform to group norms- it could be due to social pressure, fear of rejection or punishment, desire for approval or acceptance, etc.


Deviance refers to behavior that violates the established norms of society or group. It can range from minor infractions such as breaking traffic rules to more significant violations such as criminal activity. Deviance can be perceived positively or negatively depending on the context and severity of the violation.


Culture plays a crucial role in shaping social norms. Different cultures have different norms that reflect their values, beliefs, and traditions. For example, in some cultures, it’s acceptable to eat with hands, while in others, it’s considered rude.

In conclusion, norms are an essential aspect of social psychology that shapes our behavior and interactions with others. They provide predictability, stability and help us form a sense of group identity. By understanding norms and their functions, we can navigate social situations more effectively and behave appropriately in different contexts.