Social Psychology

Student Learning Program

Chapter 10: Norms and behavior (pp. 350391)

What's it about?

Norms are effective guides for social behavior. Norms must be activated before they can guide behavior. When individuals are in a state of deindividuation, they see themselves only in terms of group identity, and their behavior is likely to be guided by group norms alone.

The norm of social reciprocity directs us to return to others the favors, goods, and services they offer us. This norm is used in the door-in-the-face technique, the "that's-not-all" technique, and in selling the top of the line. The norm of social commitment directs us to keep our promises. This norm is used in the low-ball technique. The norm of obedience directs us toward submission to authority. Milgram showed this obedience in his study where participants had to deliver shocks to suffering victims.

It is possible to resist being manipulated by norms. People display reactance by fighting against threats to their freedom of action when they find norms inappropriate. Attitudes and norms typically work together to influence behavior (directly or indirectly). According to the theory of planned behavior, intentions are a function of three factors: attitudes about the behavior, social norms relevant to the behavior, and perceptions of control over the behavior. When attitudes and norms disagree, their influence on behavior will depend on their relative accessibility.

In this chapter

  1. Chapter 10 introduction
  2. Norms: Effective guides for social behavior
  3. The norm of reciprocity: Treating others as they treat you
  4. The norm of commitment: Keeping your promises
  5. The norm of obedience: Submitting to authority
  6. Rebellion and resistance: Fighting back
  7. Putting it all together: Multiple guides for behavior
  8. Chapter overview (PDF)
  9. Fill-in-the-blanks
  10. Multiple-choice questions