What Are Examples of Social Norms?

Examples of social norms are that people should bathe, wear appropriate clothing and use polite language. Social norms are unwritten rules less formal than law that may carry social penalties when violated, such as ostracism by a social group or being fired from work.

Formal law or legal norms require society to properly dispose of bodies of deceased people through burial or cremation. Less formal social norms about death include whether to conduct religious ceremonies at the funeral and whether to send flowers to the bereaved. Different groups or societies may have different social norms concerning funeral traditions or even whether to have a funeral.

While everyone in modern societies must wear clothing in public or risk being cited for indecent exposure, ideas about the type of dress a person wears are not legislated in many countries but are controlled through social norms. Participants in a solemn religious ceremony, for example, might frown on an attendee wearing a swimming suit or a miniskirt and halter top.

Other examples of social norms are walking on the right side of the sidewalk, chewing food with one’s mouth closed, flushing the toilet after use, not picking one’s nose in front of others, not standing too close to people, not talking too loudly or softly and not using the hands to eat.