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Why are norms important to society?

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Quick Answer

Norms are important to society because they provide guidelines on how to act in different situations. Social norms help to create order in society by allowing humans to understand typical behaviors in their culture.

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Social norms are generally defined as unwritten rules regarding how to act in specific situations. Social norms help delineate what is acceptable behavior. For example, it is not acceptable to be loud and boisterous in an academic classroom. However, it is acceptable to behave that way at an amusement park. Social norms also vary between social groups. For example, someone's behavior with his peers most likely differs from his behavior with his teachers. This is because there are different norms associated with each situation, such as being casual and joking with friends, as opposed to being formal while talking to authority figures. Knowing these norms helps people decide how to act in a given situation. Since there is an overwhelming multitude of behaviors that one can engage in, social norms help people predict the actions of others without being subjected to random, chaotic human behavior. Without social norms, humans would not know how to act in a specific situation, leaving them unable to interact understandably with each other.

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