Social Norms and Attitudes

Social norms play a paramount role in shaping human behavior. In the recent years, a
rapidly growing body of scholars specifically in psychology and communication has focused on
how attitudes and social norms affect human behavior. The research depended on the concept
that individual behavior is directly and indirectly shaped by the altitudes and the social norms of
others in the society. The study has indicated that social norms are both an individual and social
concept (Lapinski and Rimal 156). It has brought about the difference between perceived and
collective norms. Shared norms can be defined as “prevailing code of conduct that either
prescribes conducts that a group member can endorse.” Perceived norms is defined as
“individuals’ insights on behavior and altitudes of others.” People discuss and negotiate on the
issue of attitudes and social norms through interpersonal interactions. The pressure to conform to
the opinion of a group was considered to be influenced by the power of normative norms.
Social norms are regarded as an approach that is evidence-based and theory that can
address well-being morbidities or stigmas in public health. Arguments relating to social norms
explains that conduct is frequently affected by improper perceptions about how individual’s
peers act. It was introduced to address the substantial alcohol drinker among the university
students in America (Gintis 98). Currently, shared norms have been used to treat a range of
health issues such as alcohol consumptions, drug use, safer sex, organ donation, smoking, seat
belt, sexual assault, drunk driving, and exercise. The intervention of social norms aimed at correcting the misunderstandings about unhealthy actions and emphasizing on the impact that
individuals in a community environs may have on the intentional behaviors.
Social norms have been integrated into philosophy and they are regarded as providing
principles to direct behaviors. People will tend to abide this rule if they consider them being
supported by the majority number of individuals (Rajiv Rimal and Lapinski 402). Philosophical
viewpoint considers social norms regarding how they motivate moral behavior. Economist views
social norms regarding the extent to which it influences market behavior and rational decision
making (Ghee and Candace 346). Sociologists views customs as principles of conduct that are
present at both informal and formal levels. Casual norms are regarded as extra silent and
strengthened, and they include mores and folkways among others.
They are different types of norms, namely: injunctive, collective, subjective, collective
and descriptive norms. Collective norms represent the general social norms of an entity, and it
operates on the community system. Perceived norms represent the norms at an individual level
construe the prevailing norms of the society either incorrectly or incorrectly, and it works at the
psychological level (Hagger et al 194). In some instances, perceived norms may fail to match
with the standard norms thus causing the concept of pluralistic ignorance. The ignorance is
closely matched with the social norms theory. In contrast, Descriptive norms can be defined as
what others people beliefs they do while as injunctive norms are defined as what others people
beliefs and think an individual should be.
Descriptive norms in the other hand differ from shared norms in that it refers to insights
about the occurrence of actions in contrast to joint norms that refers to actual behavior
prevalence. On the other hand, injunctive norms are related with community repercussion, fail to
abide with descriptive norms which tend to be unrestricted from such outcomes (Christensen et al 174). Injunctive and descriptive norms are often congruent though they can conflict
sometimes. For instance, most university students have a perception that majority drinks alcohol
and to enable them to fit in the peers they consume alcohol as their peers expect them to
consume it. In this example, descriptive and injunctive norms are matching. However, the
individual may be having the perception that the largest number of student recycle reflecting
strong descriptive norms but impress that the compression to confirm is little, reflecting low
injective norm due to many will not quickly identify if they do not comply. In the above
example, the descriptive and the injunctive norms do not match. Different theories have been
brought out relating social norms and altitudes.
The theory of planned Behavior (TPB) starts by addressing by predicting that norms,
attitudes and perceived human behavior affects the individual character. TPB suggests that a
person’s relatively negative or positive assessments of an action, along with insights about what
significances others have in individual’s life would choose to do, and a person’s behavioral
intentions and subsequent behavior (Hee Sun and Smith 210). An analysis conducted
investigative application of TPB’s related to behaviors in health identified that attitude played a
prominent role in determining or predicting human reaction, followed by perceived behavioral
control and lastly individual norms.
In the other hand, attitudes were identified to forecast different actions such as selecting
exercise trick, cafeteria and using condoms (Borsari and Kate 254). Also, norms were identified
to affect decision-making on various behaviors in health, for example, physical exercise, safe
sex, and health screening. Moreover, planned behavior theory conceptualizes a combined
cognitive process of “importance to comply with significant others” and “what do important
others expect me to do” as a normative influence (Todd and ThombsHee 218). Besides, the conceptualization may at times mislead in its easiness particularly when there are other
influences such as behavioral, contextual and individual that may have an impact on the norms of
Normative Social Behavior theory describe the type of structure by identifying the
regulating significance of various variables. In this approach, Rimal and real (2005) suggests the
situations under which actions are affected by descriptive norms. In this theory, individuals’
action does not solely depend on what others individuals are doing in a particular case. In this
theory, the effect of descriptive norms on actions requires an individual to understand the context
of a significant moderator. At first, the theory identified outcomes expectations, injunctive norms
and identity of group as potential regulators in the connection concerning norms such as
behaviors and descriptive.
Injunctive norms that refer to a belief of what people should be done, moderate the
connection between behaviors and descriptive norms. For instance, “the impacts of descriptive
norms on behaviors increase when the injunctive norms are strong” (Rajiv Rimal et al 444).
When people fail to comply with the norms some people perceive that they will face sanction
and they are high possibility if they have a perception that behavior is highly prevalent.
Perceived social distance can be defined as the distance between different and self-reference
groups (Arpan et al 345). The perceived social distance influences norms originating from others
close individuals are more predictive of behavior as compared to distal others. Outcome
expectations can be defined as people’s views that associating in actions can either result to
relatively negative or positive consequence. Expectations from an outcome moderates the effects
of descriptive kind of norms on behavior in that when an individual sees other doing specific a
behavior, the individual is likely to start doing the action so that they rhyme with others. The model of prototype willingness addresses the concept of explicit against implicit
norms and altitude. It proposes the decision of whether to enact a specific action can be
processed either spontaneously or deliberatively. The ideal proposes that actions are more
dependent on the perceived likeness and willingness to a prototype behavioral (Arrow and Burns
86). For instance, the student may not have the intention to consume alcohol. However, after
developing the negative consequence deliberately from the other students and end up consuming
it as a means of experiment. The model posits that the more favorable the perception an
individual towards an appearance of a general individual who initiates a specific action, the more
willingness the people will be to take the social consequence related to the behavior.
The focus theory of normative conduct proposes that norms have a varying degree of
effect depending on the time and the situation. Therefore, the injunctive and descriptive norms
should aid on forecast which norm has the greatest impact on a person’s conduct in specific
situations. Different norms impose more impacts on varying circumstances (Hwang and Dan
238). For instance, an experiment that was conduct showed that people participate more on the
already littered environment compared to an environment that is clean.
Value belief norm theory (VBN) posits that personal moral motives like norms, personal
values and beliefs can motivate a person to be more active in doing a particular activity and thus
exhibiting positive behaviors. The theory was tested and developed by several empirical studies
to identify the relevant variances and dimensions of individual actions (Bicchieri and Hugo 143).
For examples, the research indicated that beliefs, norms, and altitude have an enormous impact
on the number of peoples joining a movement.
In conclusion, social norms and attitudes have an essential impact on individual behavior.
From various research theories and experiments, it is noted that norms are both for the entire society at a personal level. Most people like doing things which have been done by others rather
than enacting a new activity.

                                                Works cited

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