Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford


  • Yan Wang
  • Junjie Liang
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_1084-1



Norms are expectations stating that something should or must be the case or socially shared definitions of the way people do behave or should behave. From a sociological perspective, social norms are informal understandings that govern the behavior of members of a society.

Norms have obtained a great deal of attention in the social sciences, such as anthropology, economics, political science, sociology, and psychology. This article will introduce this item from the perspective of evolutionary psychology. Two main topics will be touched in this review: the emergence of evolutionary social norms and the social norms-marketing campaign resulting from the connection between social norms and behaviors.

The Emergence of Evolutionary Social Norms

Being different from the institutional norms, which are formed and enforced by certain individuals (usually the leader of group) or institutions,...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Aarts, H., & Dijksterhuis, A. (2003). The silence of the library: Environment, situational norm, and social behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(1), 18–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alexander, J. M. (2007). The structural evolution of morality. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Axelrod, R. (1986). An evolutionary approach to norms. American Political Science Review, 80(4), 1095–1111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bicchieri, C., Duffy, J., & Tolle, G. (2004). Trust among strangers. Philosophy of Science, 71, 1–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chwe, M. (2001). Rational ritual: Culture, coordination, and common knowledge. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Cialdini, R. B., Kallgren, C. A., & Reno, R. R. (1991). A focus theory of normative conduct: A theoretical refinement and reevaluation of the role of norms in human behavior. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 24(1), 201–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Colombo, M. (2014). Caring, the emotions, and social norm compliance. Journal of Neuroscience Psychology & Economics, 7(1), 33–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fehr, E., & Camerer, C. F. (2007). Social neuroeconomics: The neural circuitry of social preferences. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 11(10), 419–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Feldman, G., & Albarracín, D. (2017). Norm theory and the action-effect: The role of social norms in regret following action and inaction. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 69, 111–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Goldstein, N. J., Cialdini, R. B., & Griskevicius, V. (2008). A room with a viewpoint: Using social norms to motivate environmental conservation in hotels. Journal of Consumer Research, 35(3), 472–482.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Granfield, R. (2005). Alcohol use in college: limitations on the transformation of social norms. Addiction Research, 13(3), 281–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Griskevicius, V., Goldstein, N. J., Mortensen, C. R., Cialdini, R. B., & Kenrick, D. T. (2006). Going along versus going alone: When fundamental motives facilitate strategic (non)conformity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91(2), 281–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Griskevicius, V., Tybur, J. M., & Van den Bergh, B. (2010). Going green to be seen: Status, reputation, and conspicuous conservation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98(3), 392–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Jacobson, R. P., Mortensen, C. R., & Cialdini, R. B. (2011). Bodies obliged and unbound: Differentiated response tendencies for injunctive and descriptive social norms. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100(3), 433–448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. (1982). The psychology of preferences. Scientific American, 246(1), 160–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Karl-Dieter, O. (1982). The evolutionary emergence of norms. British Journal of Social Psychology, 21, 139–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Mcguire, L., Manstead, A., & Rutland, A. (2017). Group norms, intergroup resource allocation, and social reasoning among children and adolescents. Developmental Psychology, 53(12), 2333–2339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Monteith, M. J., Deneen, N. E., & Tooman, G. D. (1996). The effect of social norm activation on the expression of opinions concerning gay men and blacks. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 18, 267–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Neighbors, C., Larimer, M., & Lewis, M. (2004). Targeting misperceptions of descriptive drinking norms: Efficacy of a computerdelivered personalized normative feedback intervention. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 73, 434–447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Neighbors, C., Rodriguez, L. M., Gonzales, R. G., Agana, M., Tackett, J. L., & Foster, D. W. (2015). Efficacy of personalized normative feedback as a brief intervention for college student gambling: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 83(3), 500–511.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Paluck, E. L. (2009). Reducing intergroup prejudice and conflict using the media: A field experiment in rwanda. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96(3), 574–587.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Rachlin, H., & Jones, B. A. (2008). Altruism among relatives and non-relatives. Behavioural Processes, 79(2), 120–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Schultz, P. W., Nolan, J. M., Cialdini, R. B., Goldstein, N. J., & Griskevicius, V. (2007). The constructive, destructive, and reconstructive power of social norms. Psychological Science, 18(5), 429–434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Skyrms, B. (1996). Evolution of the social contract. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Sugden, R. (1998). Normative expectations: The simultaneous evolution of institutions and norms. In A. Ben-Ner & L. Putterman (Eds.), Economics, values, and organization (pp. 73–100). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Trivers, R. L. (1971). The evoution of reciprocal altruism. The Quarterly Review of Biology, 46(1), 35–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Zou, X., Tam, K. P., Morris, M. W., Lee, S. L., Lau, I. Y., & Chiu, C. Y. (2009). Culture as common sense: Perceived consensus versus personal beliefs as mechanisms of cultural influence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97(4), 579–597.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fudan UniversityShanghaiChina

Section editors and affiliations

  • Menelaos Apostolou
    • 1
  1. 1.University of NicosiaNicosiaCyprus