Roles and Role Theory

“All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players”: With these lines from As You Like It, William Shakespeare succinctly captured the essence of role theory. In short, people's behavior stems from the parts they play in life. In social psychology, a roleis defined as the collection of expectations that accompany a particular social position. Indeed, the word originates from the French rôle, which denoted the parchment from which an actor read his lines. Each individual typically plays multiple roles in his or her life; in different contexts or with different people, a particular person might be a student, a friend, or an employee. Each of these roles carries its own expectations about appropriate behavior, speech, attire, and so on. ...

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