Social norms are defined as, ‘the implicit or explicit rules a group has for the acceptable behaviors, values, and beliefs of its members”. People work to tirelessly to obtain acceptance and standing within a social group, and in doing so, conform to that group’s ideals, ideology, and manner. Because human beings are social animals it is a part of our DNA that makes up to long for social acceptance. But, changing our moral views and behavior to fall in line with the social influences of that peer group it is normative social influence.
The fear of bullying, shunning, and isolation along with other adverse consequences is why many people do not stray too far from behaving “the norm.” Studies on the influence of social norms on behavior have been conducted for decades. The constant pressure to conform results in people doing things outside of their normal behavior to fall into line with the crowd that they desire to belong in.
Social influence is the crux of extreme behavior in many individuals. We see the publication of these extreme behaviors throughout our society broadcasted on the local and national news, in social media, and written in newspapers. The ice bucket challenge, for instance, started out as an ALS fundraiser and awareness promotion. It turned into a social requirement around the world to take a bucket of ice water and videotape yourself pouring it over your head. Some social norms even though seemingly are harmless, some aspects weigh on the side of ridiculous but, people are willing to undergo the ridiculous to gain acceptance.
Joining fraternities and sororities can be a good example of this. People joining, called pledges, are willing to surrender to hazing from those who are already members to gain acceptance into these fraternities and sororities.
We will first examine the methods of how normative social influence affects the consumption items in hotels during a stay. The purpose of the article was to conclude if the implementation of normative social influence by hotel staff would result in the moderate consumption of hotel towels by the guest. Signage requesting that hotel guest use their towels more than once was used as the tool of application for normative social influence. The purpose of using the signs was to measure the effects they have on guests, specifically in the aspects of where guests were cognizant of the signs and did guests adhere to the request. Also, to measure how conservative will guest will be with their use of the hotel towels, how many times will they use the towels before turning them in for a new one.
This research project was executed in three separate experiment groups; those who stayed in standard rooms over two nights, those who stayed in condominiums for a week or longer, and those who stayed in condominium resorts. Those who stayed in the regular condominiums totaled a number of 1078 stays, and those in the resort condominiums totaled 1256 stays. The guests in the resort condos were left plain messages while those in the regular condos and hotel rooms were left a combined normative message stating the approval rates of other guests’ position on energy conservation in placards on the back of the bathroom doors. This was complemented with a, “Please Reuse Towels” sign place in the view of guests in the bathroom and positioned as such to even can see it in the mirror. Experiment 1 was observed for 2 months, experiment 2 was observed for 4 months and experiment 3 was observed for 5 months. Housekeepers used a data recording sheet to keep track of how many bath towels were being replaced in each room, each day of cleaning.
Overall, the conclusion of the combined study was that the signs stating previous guests’ views on conservation had an influence on the current guests’ actions of conserving. The study portrayed an environmental issue that influenced guests to pay more attention to it. The results indicate that a normative message can leave an impact on the guests; therefore, normative social influence can be conveyed through a printed message. The researchers found that a message that was descriptive and injunctive was the most effective for behavior change. The signs posted in guest bathrooms were stating the opinions of other guests and insinuated that the current guests could also have an impact in the conservation. The findings show that most guests may have been empowered to use fewer towels. Although guests had the option to have their towels switched out every couple of days, many opted to reuse their towels. Normative social behavior was proven to influence behavior without having any verbal interaction.
The next article examined was a case study regarding cyberbullying. The experiment was to determine if the normative social influence was reasoning behind bystanders feeling pressure to join in on cyberbullying. This study reviewed data from 525 adolescents who were considered bystanders of cyberbullying. The researchers used a questionnaire that surveyed students at school. By utilizing a path model, researchers examined 2058 students by survey, categorized by age, past bullying experience, gender, and based on if they had witnessed cyberbullying within the past six months.
The survey questionnaire utilized a 7-point scale to equate the results as to whether the students agreed or disagreed with the proposed statement. What was deduced was that social pressure is directly related to the norm of adolescent groups approving of the bullying. Social norms can direct behavior, the researchers’ studies have shown how social normative influence can manipulate others to join in cyberbullying. Neither gender nor age rendered any effect on the influence to join in on the bullying. This study focuses on the notion of normative social influence. Juveniles are more likely to enter into cyberbullying if others within their social circle are also joining in and deem it as acceptable.
There can be either good or bad connotations with normative social influence upon individuals depending on the situation at hand during that time and place. According to the Word, Romans 12:2 tells us, “Do not conform to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is his good, pleasing and perfect will.” All the societies throughout the world are polluted with malice, sin, and a multitude of evil entities. People within society changing their behavior to fit into these deviant ways has become a commonplace theme. We have seen it with Disney child stars who grow up and change to being more provocative and sexual to maintain fame. We live in a world filled with temptations, perversions, and delusions all pulling us towards sin. God’s perfect will does not call for us, His children, to conform to the social norms of this world. We are set apart from the world, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;”.
We have witnessed the perils of changing views and behaviors just to appease the populous climate within the country today. Riots and protests from Virginia to Ferguson to Houston to Baltimore have caused disruptions in these and several other cities. People have flocked to these communities just to partake in the rioting and protest with a mindset to be violent, be disruptive, all of which block them from seeing the goodness and the will of God. Allowing God into our lives means opening to transformed by the Spirit of God and walking according to His will with a renewing of our minds. This is how we positively change our behavior. We glorify God by holding onto His will for our lives and not conforming to the ways of the world and what society deems is prudent.
The Word of God tells us, “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” We are encouraged to live as Christ did, a holy and upright life according to the true will of God. The anxiety of being ostracized may present a hurdle for some to not give in to normative social influences, but God tells us, be obedient to His Word and to His and we will be blessed accordingly for being obedient. Because of the initial disobedience by Adam, humans are born into sin and into a sinful nature. This sinful nature, our flesh, may fight against what the Spirit of God within us calls for us to do, especially when our social circles and peers are following another path. At times it feels easier, more convenient to simply conform to the social norms of society and give into the wants of our flesh, but it is not satisfying to God.
Normative social influence has been defined as conforming to a group norm to be accepted by the group. Social pressure affects those who desire full acceptance by peers. Facets of normative social influence and norms are evident in person within society. Social norms have been used to heighten awareness, such as with airport security increases after 9-11. Social norms have also been known to create fear and calamity, such as with certain support groups with the Trump campaign that incited violence and hateful rhetoric.
The two articles assessed in this essay may have taken on different angles, but their similarity is the proof that there is a positive effect caused by normative social influence. People chose to be conservative and reuse hotel towels when prompted by a descriptive sign that promoted energy conservation. This was proven to also be effective when normative social influence when used in printed form. The following article proved that adolescent students could be coerced into joining in cyberbullying when peers from their social circle pressured them. Normative social influence has taken place in the everyday activities of a wide variety of people.
The social norms of today have become a popular blog post, internet headlines, viral videos, and provocative television, all with the capacity of having negative impacts in societies throughout the globe. The Word of God has outlined that we are not to conform to the ways of this world. Divisiveness, hate-mongering, greed, corruption, and intolerance have taken a foothold in our society; which is not of God and why God does not want us to follow suit because He is a God of love. He does not want us to give in to the ways of evil, but to spread His word of love by the renewing of our hearts and minds to stay focused on His will. Following the Word of God will renew our minds and heart if we open to His will. We are set apart, a royal priesthood, a peculiar people because we do not look to follow the ways of man but the ways of Christ whose image we are made in.