examples and list of social norms

Examples of Social Norms: A Comprehensive List of 70 Social Norms

Social norms are the unwritten rules of behavior that are expected of individuals in a society. They are the shared expectations of how people should act, think, and feel in different situations. Social norms can vary widely from one culture to another, and even within different groups within the same culture.

Given the wide range of social norms that exist, it can be difficult to provide a comprehensive list of all of them. However, there are many examples of social norms that are widely recognized and accepted in many societies. These norms can include things like saying “please” and “thank you,” respecting others’ personal space, and following traffic laws when driving.

While it is impossible to provide an exhaustive list of all social norms, there are many resources available that provide examples of social norms in different contexts. These resources can be useful for individuals who are looking to better understand the social expectations of a particular culture or community, or for those who are interested in exploring the ways in which social norms shape human behavior.

Defining Social Norms

Social norms are a set of unwritten rules that guide behavior in a particular social group. They are the shared expectations of what is considered acceptable and appropriate behavior in a given context. Social norms can vary widely between different cultures, subcultures, and even between different groups within the same culture.

Some common examples of social norms:

  • Respecting elders
  • Saying “please” and “thank you”
  • Not interrupting others when they are speaking
  • Wearing appropriate clothing in different settings
  • Not littering or damaging public property

Types of Social Norms

There are several different types of social norms, each with its own characteristics and functions. Some of the most common types of social norms include:

Type of Social NormDescription
Descriptive NormsThese norms describe what is typically done in a particular situation. For example, if most people in a group are wearing formal clothing, a descriptive norm might be to also wear formal clothing.
Injunctive NormsThese norms describe what is considered acceptable or unacceptable behavior in a particular situation. For example, an injunctive norm might be to not talk loudly in a library.
Prescriptive NormsThese norms prescribe what behavior is required in a particular situation. For example, a prescriptive norm might be to stand up when the national anthem is played.

Importance of Knowing Social Norms

Understanding social norms is essential for effective communication and social interaction. By following social norms, individuals can avoid social disapproval and maintain positive relationships with others. However, social norms can also be restrictive and limit individual expression and creativity. Therefore, it is important to strike a balance between conforming to social norms and expressing one’s individuality.

Cultural Awareness

One of the primary reasons why it is essential to know social norms is to develop cultural awareness. Different cultures have unique social norms that dictate how individuals interact with one another, and these norms can vary significantly from one culture to another.

By understanding and respecting the social norms of different cultures, individuals can avoid making cultural faux pas and demonstrate cultural competence. This is especially important in today’s globalized world, where people from different cultures interact with one another regularly.

Avoiding Misunderstandings

Another reason why it is crucial to know social norms is to avoid misunderstandings. Failure to understand social norms can lead to miscommunication, conflict, and even legal problems in some cases.

For example, in some cultures, it is considered impolite to make direct eye contact with someone of higher status, while in others, it is a sign of respect. If someone from a culture where direct eye contact is considered respectful interacts with someone from a culture where it is considered impolite, it can lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

Similarly, in some cultures, it is customary to tip service providers, while in others, it is not. If someone from a culture where tipping is not customary visits a culture where it is expected, they may unintentionally offend the service provider.

Overall, knowing social norms is essential for individuals to function effectively in society, develop cultural awareness, and avoid misunderstandings.

List of Social Norms

Social norms are the unwritten rules of behavior that govern how people interact with each other in society. These norms vary depending on the culture, community, and environment in which they are found. Here are some examples of social norms in different settings:

Communication Norms

  1. Use proper language and grammar when communicating with others
  2. Be respectful and attentive when someone is speaking to you
  3. Avoid interrupting others while they are speaking
  4. Ask questions to clarify what someone is saying if you don’t understand
  5. Speak clearly and directly, avoiding sarcasm or passive aggression
  6. Avoid talking over others in a group conversation
  7. Use appropriate nonverbal cues, such as eye contact and facial expressions
  8. Avoid speaking too loudly or too softly
  9. Use “please” and “thank you” when appropriate
  10. Be mindful of cultural differences when communicating with people from different backgrounds

Personal Hygiene Norms

  1. Bathe or shower regularly to maintain personal hygiene
  2. Brush your teeth twice a day to maintain oral hygiene
  3. Use deodorant to control body odor
  4. Wear clean and appropriate clothing for the occasion
  5. Wash your hands regularly to prevent the spread of germs
  6. Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  7. Trim and clean your nails regularly
  8. Use tissues to blow your nose and dispose of them properly
  9. Avoid sharing personal hygiene items, such as toothbrushes or razors
  10. Cover your mouth with tissue while sneezing.

Dining Norms

  1. Use proper table manners, such as using utensils correctly
  2. Wait for everyone to be served before beginning to eat
  3. Avoid talking with food in your mouth
  4. Say “please” and “thank you” to waitstaff
  5. Avoid making loud noises while eating
  6. Don’t reach over someone else’s plate to grab something
  7. Use a napkin to wipe your mouth
  8. Don’t pick your teeth or nose at the table
  9. Don’t take food from someone else’s plate without permission
  10. Avoid using your cellphone or other electronic devices during meals

Workplace Norms

  1. Arrive on time for work and meetings
  2. Dress appropriately for the job and company culture
  3. Respect the personal space and property of coworkers
  4. Use proper language and grammar in work-related communication
  5. Be mindful of deadlines and prioritize tasks accordingly
  6. Don’t gossip or spread rumors about coworkers
  7. Avoid using company equipment for personal use
  8. Use appropriate channels for reporting complaints or concerns
  9. Participate in company culture-building activities
  10. Respect diversity and inclusivity in the workplace

Social Media Norms

  1. Use appropriate language and grammar in online communication
  2. Don’t post inappropriate content, such as hate speech
  3. Don’t cyberbully or harass others online
  4. Use privacy settings to control who can see your content
  5. Don’t overshare personal information online
  6. Don’t plagiarize or steal others’ content
  7. Use fact-checking and critical thinking when sharing news or information
  8. Don’t engage in online arguments or trolling
  9. Be respectful and kind in online interactions
  10. Use social media in moderation to maintain a healthy balance with offline activities.

Family Social Norms

  1. Respecting elders
  2. Helping with household chores
  3. Calling or visiting relatives regularly
  4. Being present for family events and celebrations
  5. Not speaking ill of family members behind their backs
  6. Sharing food and belongings with siblings
  7. Respecting each other’s personal space
  8. Apologizing and making amends when necessary
  9. Honoring family traditions and customs
  10. Offering emotional support during difficult times

Public Transportation Social Norms

  1. Giving up your seat to those in need
  2. Not blocking the aisle or doors
  3. Keeping noise levels low
  4. Keeping personal belongings off seats
  5. Waiting patiently in line to board
  6. Paying the appropriate fare
  7. Not eating or drinking on the vehicle
  8. Keeping the vehicle clean
  9. Following safety guidelines and regulations
  10. Not vandalizing or damaging the vehicle

How to Learn About Social Norms

Learning about social norms can be a fascinating and insightful experience. Understanding how people behave in different social situations can help individuals navigate social interactions with ease. Here are three ways to learn about social norms:


Observing people in different social situations is a great way to learn about social norms. By paying attention to how people behave in different situations, individuals can gain a better understanding of what is considered acceptable behavior in different social contexts. For example, observing how people interact with each other in a workplace can help individuals understand the unwritten rules of that particular workplace.


Researching social norms can be done through a variety of sources. Reading books, articles, and academic papers on social norms can provide individuals with a deeper understanding of the subject. Additionally, watching documentaries or videos on social norms can be an engaging and informative way to learn about the topic.

Online resources like blogs, forums, and social media can also be great sources of information on social norms. However, it is important to be critical of the information found online and to verify it with other sources.

Asking Questions

Asking questions is another way to learn about social norms. Individuals can ask friends, family members, and colleagues about their experiences in different social situations. Additionally, individuals can seek out experts in the field of social norms and ask them questions about the topic.

It is important to approach asking questions with an open mind and to be respectful of other people’s opinions and experiences. By asking questions, individuals can gain a better understanding of social norms and how they impact different social situations.

Benefits of Following Social Norms

Following social norms has a number of benefits for individuals, including improving relationships, enhancing personal image, increasing professionalism, and boosting social confidence.

Positive Impact on Relationships

By following social norms, individuals can establish positive relationships with others. For example, saying “please” and “thank you” when interacting with others can show appreciation and respect, which can help to build stronger relationships. Additionally, following norms related to personal space and physical contact can help individuals to avoid making others uncomfortable, which can further strengthen relationships.

Improved Personal Image

Following social norms can also help individuals to present a more positive image of themselves to others. For example, dressing appropriately for different occasions can show respect for others and demonstrate a level of professionalism. Similarly, using appropriate language and avoiding offensive jokes or comments can help individuals to present themselves in a positive light.

Enhanced Professionalism

Following social norms can be particularly important in professional settings. For example, using proper etiquette when interacting with clients or colleagues can help to establish a professional image and build trust. Additionally, following norms related to punctuality and work ethic can help individuals to be seen as reliable and competent.

Increased Social Confidence

Finally, following social norms can help individuals to feel more confident in social situations. By understanding and following the expectations of others, individuals can feel more comfortable and at ease when interacting with others. This can help to reduce social anxiety and improve overall social functioning.

examples and list of social norms
examples and printable list of social norms

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