What Is Social Acceptability in Psychology?


Vincent White

Social acceptability is a concept in psychology that refers to the extent to which a behavior or action is considered appropriate or desirable by society. It is a subjective measure that varies across cultures, regions, and time periods.

Factors Influencing Social Acceptability

Various factors can influence social acceptability, including cultural norms, religious beliefs, social values, and personal opinions. For example, in some cultures, it may be considered socially acceptable for men to have multiple wives whereas in others it may be frowned upon.

The Role of Social Norms

Social norms are unwritten rules that govern behavior in society. They are the standards of behavior that people are expected to follow in different situations. Social norms play a significant role in determining what is socially acceptable and what is not.

Perception of Deviance

Deviance refers to behavior that violates social norms and expectations. It can range from minor infractions such as not following dress codes to more serious offenses like breaking the law. The perception of deviance can have a significant impact on social acceptability.

Examples of Social Acceptability

  • Wearing formal attire to a job interview.
  • Greeting someone with a handshake or hug.
  • Saying “please” and “thank you” when interacting with others.
  • Not talking loudly in public places like libraries and movie theaters.
  • Paying taxes on time.

The Consequences of Violating Social Acceptability

When an individual violates social acceptability, they risk facing negative consequences such as social disapproval, rejection, ridicule, or even legal punishment. For example, if someone behaves rudely towards others in public places like restaurants or parks, they may face criticism or verbal confrontations from others.

The Role of Social Acceptability in Psychology

Social acceptability is a crucial concept in psychology because it influences human behavior in many ways. It affects how people interact with each other, the decisions they make, and the actions they take. Social acceptability can also have an impact on mental health and well-being.


In conclusion, social acceptability is a complex concept that plays a vital role in shaping human behavior and society at large. Understanding social norms and expectations can help individuals navigate social situations more effectively while also promoting positive interactions with others.