What Are Examples of Cultural Norms?

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Cultural norms include trivial daily activities, such as answering the phone with “hello,” using a medium-pitched tone of voice during conversations, wearing appropriate clothing and driving or walking on the right side of the road and sidewalk. Cultural norms are defined as standard or acceptable behaviors and attitudes espoused by a group of people, such as citizens of a country, a clique in school or a tribe. Cultural norms affect virtually every part of daily life, and often become so routine that participants are unaware of their specific behaviors and actions.

Even though people are often largely unaware that they are practicing cultural norms, those actions still play a significant role in determining how people dress, act and interact with others. Cultural norms are found in all societies, but vary widely among various groups and populations. In high school, for instance, many students identify with certain groups of peers. Those groups have their own standards of behavior, including style of dress and attitudes, which group members must adopt to fit in. Some groups adopt and encourage positive behaviors, but cultural norms can include engaging in deviant activities such as smoking tobacco and using alcohol. Cultural norms are sometimes passed through peers, but also exist in families and religious sects.