Social norm

informal understanding of acceptable conduct

Social norms are the unwritten rules of a social group or culture. Norms provide an idea of how a person is expected to behave. Without some norms, the behavior of others would be unpredictable, and social order would not be possible. At the same time, norms allow for some differences for individual expression. Norms depend upon the social situation. A group of friends may have informal, less strict norms. The same people may have more strict, formal norms when in a social role, such as students at school or workers on the job.[1]

Shaking hands after a sports match is an example of a social norm.

Norms may be taught, or learned by observing and imitating others. Norms include value judgements, defining what actions are good or bad.[2] Some violations of norms are more serious than others. Serious violations may be against the law.


  1. McLeod, Saul (2008). "Social Roles and Social Norms". Simple Psychology. Retrieved May 9, 2022.
  2. "Social Norm". APA Dictionary of Psychology. Retrieved May 9, 2022.