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Norms, Prescriptive and Descriptive

Definition

Social norms are attributes of groups that generate expectations for the behavior of group members. Two types of norms differ in the source of the expectations. Descriptive norms refer to what most people in a group think, feel, or do; prescriptive or injunctive norms refer to what most people in a group approve of. The distinction here is between what is true of group members and what ought to be true of group members. In many cases, these two types of norms overlap. For example, wearing business suits is both a descriptive and a prescriptive norm for executives, just as wearing jeans is both a descriptive and a prescriptive norm for teenagers. Liberal political views are both a descriptive and a prescriptive norm on college ...

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