What is a cultural norm? describe the concept in relation to your community.

What is a cultural norm? describe the concept in relation to your community.

This thesis focuses on the how people accept another cultural norm when they have to get into it. There are differences of norm exists in cultures and more and more people try to immigrant or study and teach overseas. When the cultures have crash, one or more parties of them need to change themselves to adopt the environment.


“Cultural norm are the standard we lived by”. [1] (Including values, customs, and traditions)[2] “And the term ‘culture’ refers to attitudes and patterns of behavior in a given group. ‘Norm’ refers to attitudes and behaviors that are considered normal, typical or average within that group”. [3]. And people learn it from their families, friends and teachers, which form their value. You know what you suppose to do or not. In different cultural or even different group, they have various rules for themselves. And those rules are related to cultural norm. And they have different response for those rules. “Both the immediate social situation (source of the survey, attributes of the interviewer and interview situation) and cultural norms are likely to influence perceived desirability-undesirability of response. Socially desirable responding is more likely when confidentiality is low (e.g. face-to-face interviews), less likely when confidentiality is high (e.g. self-administered interviews, Krysan, et al., 1994). Respondents may find it embarrassing to admit not engaging in a desirable behavior, resulting in over-reporting of desirable behavior; they may find it embarrassing to admit engaging in undesirable behaviors, resulting in under-reporting of undesirable behavior.”[4]

The evidence of cultural norm

“Cultural norms include trivial daily activities, such as answering the phone with “hello,” using a medium-pitched tone of voice during conversations, wearing appropriate clothing and driving or walking on the right side of the road and sidewalk”[5]The influence of cultural norm are everywhere, finding it out and studying it is necessary. Though there are many culture and different cultural norms, their source of building it up have something in common.

“Gelfand and colleagues theorized that tightness and looseness are reflected at different levels within a culture that mutually support one another. They published their research in a Science article, ‘Differences between tight and loose cultures.’ In it, Gelfand’s team describes evidence for each of the following four levels:

Ecological & Historical Threats. Hostile neighbors, disease, and dense populations increase the need for coordinated and disciplined action from the population. More factors like these tighten the cultural norms. As the threats diminish, cultures loosen up.

Socio-Political Institutions. Culturally tight nations tend to have more autocratic governments, restricted media, stronger suppression of dissent, and more severe punishments for crime.

Everyday Social Situations. All kinds of interactions with fellow members of the culture are more formal in nations with tight cultural norms. These include situations at home, the workplace, school, places of worship, parks, and others. Loose cultures provide more room for individual discretion in such situations. A wider range of behavior is counted “appropriate.”

Psychological Adaptations. People’s minds become attuned to the different requirements of living in places with tight or loose cultural norms. Individual psychology then further supports the level of cultural tightness or looseness. People living in tight cultures become more focused on avoiding mistakes. They are more cautious in their own behavior, and more closely monitor themselves and others for norm violations.” [1]This imitate that if a person try to get into other culture, they can adopt the environment according those standards. If the psychological conception are misunderstand, they can learn more about their adaption.

Cultural Assimilation

“The internalization of roles in identities, which generates subjective commitments to objective positions in society, is liable to produce stability rather than change. Externally, institutions and concepts, such as sovereignty and the balance of power – which reward certain practices and punish others – inhibit change even when actors want it.” [6] It means that the cultural is uneasy to change, and when the people of other group get into it, he/she have to make a change to adopt this environment, because people have “Social Desirability”[4]. They will response for those cultural differences. They need to be recognized and to be identified as a person who can communicate with. Generally speaking, human being are social, so if persons who go to other places want to survived, they need to follow the local rules-kind of cultural norm.

Different degree for people to accept

“The cultural norm hypothesis predicts that individuals who are depressed display patterns of positive and negative emotional reactivity that differ from their culturally ideal ways of experiencing and expressing emotions.” [7] Different people have various patterns to deal with those positive and negative emotional recognition to a new cultural norm. For example, the research about European Americans and Asian Americans was studied Chentsova-Dutton. “He demonstrated that the effects of depression on negative emotional reactivity varied for European Americans and Asian Americans. Whereas European Americans who are depressed showed dampened negative emotional responses compared to healthy controls, Asian Americans who are depressed showed increased negative emotional responses compared to healthy controls. Similarly, the present study found that European Americans who are depressed showed dampened positive emotional responses compared to healthy controls, and Asian Americans who are depressed showed similar or even increased positive emotional responses compared to healthy controls.” [8]The study show different cultural norms affect different people, even though they are in the same environment, the cultural norm was still different. In addition, the cultural norm is influenced by all kinds of aspect. Different small groups also have their own values which means a kind of cultural norm.


[1]WINSTON SIECK, www.globalcognition.org

[2] Sherif, M. (1936). The psychology of social norms. NewYork: Harper.


[4] Ayse K. Uskul & Daphna Oyserman, Question Comprehension and Response: Implications of Individualism and Collectivism

[5] www.ask.com

[6]Shunji CUI, Beyond Rivalry? Sino-Japanese Relations and the Potential for a ‘Security Regime’ in Northeast Asia

[7] Chentsova-Dutton et al., 2007

[8] Yulia E. Chentsova-Dutton & Jeanne L. Tsai and Ian H. Gotlib, Further Evidence for the Cultural Norm Hypothesis: Positive Emotion in Depressed and Control European American and Asian American Women

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