Distinguishing Norms & Values

Obedience to our elders is considered a good value and also a norm in our society. Showing respect to teachers is another example of both a value and a norm in all societies and cultures. Due to their similarities, it can be confusing to differentiate between norms and values in a society. Norms are mostly social behaviors that people in a society are expected to follow. In contrast, values are our beliefs about what is good, right, or wrong. This article will highlight the differences between norms and values.

Key Takeaways

  • Norms are socially acceptable ways of behavior, while values are individual beliefs about what is good, right, or wrong.
  • Norms help enforce social order informally, while values provide internal guidance for individuals in difficult situations.
  • Norms are imposed from outside, while values are created within the mind of an individual.

What are Norms?

Socially acceptable ways of behavior are called norms. They serve to induce uniformity and keep deviant behavior in check. Society also devises ways to get rid of deviant behavior, as people are punished when they are seen flouting norms. However, norms should not be confused with laws, which are written and codified, and those who break or violate laws are punished by courts. As such, norms are an unwritten code of conduct that is desirable, and those members of society who flout these norms are looked down upon and derided.

In early times, when norms were not devised to make people comply with a code of conduct, societies had to depend on taboo behaviors. This was done to prevent people from engaging in undesirable behaviors. With the development of norms, it became possible to enforce social order in an informal manner.

Examples of norms include not laughing uncontrollably or smoking at a funeral, and shaking hands with your competitor after the completion of a tennis match, whether you have won or lost. As a foreigner, it is better to learn about social norms in a country to behave in a socially acceptable manner and dress accordingly.

What are Values?

It is difficult to live in isolation, and when living in a society, it is essential to have a belief system for dealing with other people and situations. Orientation in a society becomes much easier with values, which are developed over time in the minds of individuals about right and wrong, just and fair, good and bad.

Most values are learned from elders, parents, teachers, and religious books, although personal beliefs also play a role. Beliefs are mostly cultural and religious in nature. Some universal values found across cultures include compassion, honesty, integrity, love, sex, friendship, and many more. Having a strong belief system enables people to navigate difficult situations in life because of the anchorage provided by these values.

Difference between Norms and Values

  • Values are sets of beliefs an individual has to guide their behavior, while norms are codes of conduct set by a society.
  • Norms are unwritten laws of a society, and flouting them entails derision and boycott, while values are guiding principles that help individuals move ahead with confidence in difficult situations in life.
  • Norms play a role in building up values in the mind of an individual.
  • Norms are imposed from outside, while values are created inside the mind of an individual.
  • Norms are specific guides to behavior, while values provide indirect guidance only.
Dmitri Ivanov
Dmitri Ivanovhttps://whats-different.com
Dmitri Ivanov, a writer and managing editor, was educated in Canada and holds a BS in Science. Dmitri loves doing research, writing, and teaching various courses.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles