Group norms

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Group norms
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Group norms - are patterns of behavior regarding the functioning of the individual in a larger social group. Group norms define not only the rules of the group's operation, but also the creation of good relations within it. Norms of group may also relate to the way people behave and look.

Group norms should be accepted and understood by all of the group members. It must be sure that every member know the rules and have no doubts about them. If there rules are not accepted by all of the members, there is a possibility that someone is not going to respect them. Moreover, if the rules are not clearly define, members may be even unaware that they are breaking the rules.

Functions of group norms

We can point out 4 functions of group norms [1]:

  • expressing the group's main values - through which the members get a sense of who they are as a group.
  • helping coordinate the work of the members - making clear what is wanted from the members
  • defining the right behavior for members of a group - it helps to avoid unwanted and awkward situation in group and raises participation in the life of a group.
  • helping set up unique identity - making members know how dissimilar they are from others.

Types of norms

There are two main and most important types of norms [2]:

  • implicit, the kind of norms which are not written anywhere and not announced verbally. They are naturally understood by members. The example of implicit rules could be: being quiet when other person is speaking. There is no official punishment for those who do not respect these norms. There is possibility that someone will only frown or shake a finger at the person who do not respect the rule.
  • explicit, the kind of rules which are written down or announced verbally. Explicit norms are expected to be followed by all of the members. Normally there is also clearly define the consequences resulting from non-compliance with the rules.

The ways of creating group norms

It is typical that the group norms develop and change with time. The rules also depend on the people who participate in the group. It can be said that the norms are completely accepted by the members when they obey them even when there is no external pressure. In this case the members use the rules to control their own behavior. According to information includes in book Group Dynamics for Teams [3] which author is Daniel Levi, there are a few sources from which the group norms can come from. First of all, rules can be transferred by the members from other groups they used to belong to or even still belong to. Secondly, norms can be created based on prevailing standards in the environment. Normally the rules are invented at the beginning of the group's life but with time they are developed. In the situations when the members do not know how to behave, it is likely to invent new rules that are going to describe clearly the way of procedure.

Impact of group norms

The impact of group norms can be negative or positive [4]. The positive aspect is that the rules define the way of communication between the members, make the membres respect each other's and distribute power to the weaker people in the group. Talking about the negative aspect, group rules can somehow limit the creativity of members and enforce conformity.

Examples of group norms

Below are pointed out examples of typical group norms:

  • Speaking respectfully to each other
  • Being always on time
  • Avoiding ethnic or gender-based humor
  • Giving everyone a chance to speak


  1. (D. Levi 2007, p.48)
  2. (R. Fujishin 2007, p.10)
  3. (D. Levi 2007, p.49)
  4. (D. Levi 2007, p.49)


Author: Klaudia Trączyk