ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2018, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (7): 1284-1293.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2018.01284

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The dynamic process of social norm development

CHEN Weiyang, XIE Tian()   

  1. Department of Psychology, School of Philosophy, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China
  • Received:2017-07-29 Online:2018-07-15 Published:2018-05-29
  • Contact: Tian XIE


Classic studies distinguish social norms from descriptive and injunctive norms. In contrast to this static division, research has recently begun to focus on the dynamic process of social norm development, including the acquisition, transmission, and transformation of social norms as well as their influencing factors. The acquisition of social norms can be traced back to early childhood social interaction. The formation of descriptive norms can be considered a result of the learning of exemplars of a social category. The rationalization of the status quo has led to the transformation of descriptive norms into injunctive norms. The influencing factors of social norms are not only related to their psychological functions - to meet individuals’ needs for security, belonging, and uniqueness - but also to external environment, which involves power positions and punishment mechanisms. To probe the process of normative influence, future studies could further analyze the formation and action processes of social norms, take account of studies of social norm strength, and analyze social norms in their cultural context.

Key words: social norms, dynamic process, social networks, psychological needs

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