Social Role Psychology Chapter 12

Social roles are the patterns of behavior that are expected of individuals based on their position within a particular social group. In other words, social roles are the set of expectations that define how people in a given situation ought to behave. Social Role Psychology is an area of study that examines how these roles influence our behavior and attitudes.

The Nature of Social Roles

Social roles can be found in many different situations, ranging from family dynamics to work environments. For example, a mother might be expected to take care of her children, while a manager might be expected to lead his or her team effectively. These roles often come with specific duties and responsibilities that must be fulfilled in order for the individual to meet the expectations of others.

The Influence of Social Roles on Behavior

Social roles have been shown to have a significant impact on behavior. When people are placed in specific social roles, they tend to conform to the expectations associated with those roles, even if they aren’t entirely comfortable with them. This phenomenon is known as role-playing and highlights the power that social norms can have over individual behavior.

The Development of Social Roles

Social roles develop through various cultural and societal factors such as gender stereotypes, race relations, and economic status. For instance, in many cultures around the world there is still an expectation that women should be the primary caregivers for children and manage household responsibilities. Similarly, in some societies, there is a belief that people of different races should occupy specific roles based on their ethnicity.

The Effects of Social Roles on Attitudes

Social roles can also influence our attitudes towards others. When we’re placed in a particular role, we may begin to adopt the attitudes and beliefs associated with that role. For example, if you were to become a police officer, you might start to view society through the lens of law enforcement and see certain behaviors as inherently criminal.


In conclusion, social roles are an essential part of our lives and play a significant role in shaping our behavior and attitudes. Understanding how social roles work can help us better navigate various situations in which we find ourselves. By being aware of these roles, we can be more mindful of how they impact our behavior and make more informed decisions about how we want to act within them.