What Is the Meaning of the Term Social Expectations?

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The term social expectations refers to the general standards of behavior that individuals who live within a society are expected to uphold. Good manners and common sense are standard examples of universal social expectations, although specific social behaviors differ from one culture to the next.

There is significant evidence to suggest that individuals do not behave at random but rather according to the norms attributed to their social group. Deviation from the behavior exhibited by the vast majority of a social group is considered a violation of social expectations. Although different cultures have unique sets of normal behaviors that members are expected to uphold, there are universal social behaviors that members of nearly every society are expected to follow.

Some of these behaviors include a respect for personal property and space, abstention from violent behavior except in cases of self defense, and a general willingness to lend reasonable assistance to others within the social group. These social expectations are thought by many evolutionary psychologists to exist because they serve as basic rules that allow the social group to function in harmony. Social creatures stand a greater chance at survival because of strength in numbers, and social expectations keep all members of the group in line.