What Are Social Roles?

Phalinn Ooi/CC-BY 2.0

Social roles are the behaviors one exhibits as a result of being in a social environment. These behaviors vary depending on the situation and the individual.

Social roles are not singular, as many roles may be filled by an individual. They are highly situational, and may change drastically based on the behaviors an individual is expected to exhibit within social circles. A focus on maintaining social status within a group may also be a factor in behavior.

A person’s social roles may include being a friend, family member or authority figure. Their social roles within these relationships may determine how they behave when interacting with others, and which behavioral norms they exhibit.