Social Norms and Identity Relevance: A Motivational Approach to Normative Behavior
The article talks about how social identity makes people in a group inclined to normative (normal) behavior. Meaning that people will behave in a similar way to fit into the group. People are also noted to behave differently when they are in different groups.
Types of Norms
- Often enforced by social rewards and punishments.
- Self-standards that specify the ideal person people want to become.
- When actions comply with self-standards, people feel pride or relief.
- Failure to comply results in guilt or anxiety.
- Typical conduct of humans.
- People think that “what most people are doing is probably the right thing to do.”
- E.g., many people are gazing up at the sky. The descriptive norms in behavior can lead to more people gazing up at the sky out of curiosity.
- People do not necessary feel pride nor guilt, but rather, surprise.
An experimental study was done to find out if people would conform or violate a norm under different situations along with a survey of the participants’ self-standards & morals. A rival group was used in the descriptive norm test to enhance group members’ needs to have a more fitting social identity and group behavior (united).
- Normative behavior on self-evaluations depend on motivations to identify with the group
- Injunctive norms represent the core values of social groups à use to evaluate social identity
- Descriptive norm:
- Can also be used to evaluate social identity among the group only when there was a rival group involved.
- Seems only able to influence emotions but not self-standard discrepancies.
The article concludes that identity-relevance is the key factor in determining whether norms are used to evaluate behavior. People who conform to a norm positively are expected to persist with these behaviors/actions to increase their identity within the group.
Injunctive and descriptive norms are about individuals’ behaviors to conform to a group. The article was solely on individual’s actions and emotions. The implicating factors that follow these norms will be favoritism and prejudices from group members – common social problems that everyone has to face. But isn’t it silly to lose your own individuality and principles just to please others?
Telling lies to please others.
Smoking just because everyone in the group smokes.
I would think that these norms are affected/motivated by peer pressure. In the end it comes down to how much an individual wants to be accepted in a group to be able to comply with the norms. Norms are affected by the choices people make, not cause-and-effect.
So, do you find yourself conforming when you are in groups to make sure others would not view you in a bad light?
Do you think that being in a group means to comply with everyone, or is individual thinking more important?
Christensen, P. N., Rothgerber, H., Wood, W., & Matz, D. C. (2004). Social Norms and Identity Relevance: A Motivational Approach to Normative Behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30(10), 1295-1309.