What Is a Positive Sanction?

A positive sanction refers to rewards given to a member of a group to express approval of his actions or behavior. Positive sanctions in a community setting can appear as both formal rewards, such as a promotion or a title, or in the form of esteem from other community members.

A positive sanction can be used to regulate the actions of a member of the community by providing an incentive to conforming to social norms. In a community setting, sanctions can be delivered through either individual actions or an organized action that is dictated by pre-existing procedures and tradition. The opposite of a positive sanction is a negative sanction, which typically comes in the form of social or individual punishment.