Theorising Norms

  • Corinna Elsenbroich
  • Nigel Gilbert


Major theoretical approaches to social norms from sociology and psychology are discussed. From sociology, the focus is on the micro-macro link between individuals and social structure and on game theory for the study of social interaction. From psychology, two topics are considered, developmental psychology and the internalization of norms, and social psychology and norms as the outcomes of social influence. Three formal models of social influence are introduced: the theory of reasoned action, social impact theory and social network analysis.


Social norms social theory methodological individualism theory of reasoned action social impact theory social network analysis. 


  1. Aarts, H., & Dijksterhuis, A. (2003). The silence of the library: Environmental control over social behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(1), 18–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Abel, T. (1948). The operation called Verstehen. American Journal of Sociology, 54(3), 211–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alexander, J. (2009). Evolutionary game theory. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Fall 2009 ed.).
  4. Asch, S. E. (1952). Social psychology. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Aumann, R. J. (1976). Agreeing to disagree. Annals of Statistics, 4, 1236–1239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bentham, J. (1823). Introduction to the principles of morals and legislation. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  7. Bicchieri, C. (1993). Rationality and coordination. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Bicchieri, C. (2006). The grammar of society: The nature and dynamics of social norms. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Blau, P. M. (1964). Exchange and power in social life. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  10. Bratman, M. E. (1987). Intention, plans and practical reason. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Christiakis, N., & Fowler, J. (2009). Connected. New York: Little, Brown and Company Hachette Book Group.Google Scholar
  12. Coleman, J. S. (1964). Introduction to mathematical sociology. New York: The Free Press of Glencoe.Google Scholar
  13. Coleman, J. S. (1990). Foundations of social theory. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Detel, W. (2008). On the concept of basic social norms. Analyse & Kritik, 30, 469–482.Google Scholar
  15. Dijksterhuis, A., & Bargh, J. A. (2001). The perception-behavior expressway: Automatic effects of social perception on social behavior. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 33, 1–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dilthey, W. (1883). Einleitung in die Geisteswissenschaften: Versuch einer Grundlegung fir das Studium der Gesellschaft und der Geschichte (4th 1957 ed.). Stuttgart/Gottingen: Teubner/Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 4.Google Scholar
  17. Dilthey, W. (1900). Die entstehung der hermeneutik. In ilhelm Dilthey: Gesammelte Schriften Band 5 (pp. 317–338). Stuttgart/Gottingen: Teubner/Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.Google Scholar
  18. Droysen, J. G. (1858). Grundriss der Historik. In Johann Gustav Droysen: Historik. Vorlesungen tiber Enzyklopddie und Methodologie der Geschichte (4th 1960 ed., pp. 328–331). Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.Google Scholar
  19. Durkheim, E. (1895). The rules of sociological method. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  20. Falk, A., Fehr, E., & Fischbacher, U. (2008). Testing theories of fairness—intentions matter. Games and Economic Behavior, 62, 287–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Franzoi, S. L. (2000). Social psychology (2nd ed.). New York: Brown & Benchmark.Google Scholar
  22. Frenken, K. (2005). Innovation, evolution and complexity theory. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.Google Scholar
  23. Friedkin, N. E., & Johnsen, E. C. (1999). Social influence networks and opinion change. Advances in Group Processes, 16, 1–29.Google Scholar
  24. Friedman, M. (1953). Essays in positive economics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  25. Gibson, J. T., & Haritos-Fatouros, M. (1986). The education of a torturer. Psychology Today, 20, 50–58.Google Scholar
  26. Gigerenzer, G., & Selten, R. (2001). Bounded rationality: The adaptive toolbox. Cambridge/MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  27. Gilligan, C. (1982). In a different voice: Psychological theory and women’s development. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Granovetter, M. S. (1973). The strength of weak ties. American Journal of Sociology, 78(6), 1360–1380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Granovetter, M. S. (1983). The strength of weak ties: A network theory revisited. Sociological Theory, 1, 201–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Güth, W., & Kliemt, H. (1998). The indirect evolutionary approach: Bridging the gap between rationality and adaptation. Rationality and Society, 10, 377–399.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Güth, W., Schmittberger, R., & Schwartze, B. (1982). An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 3, 367–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hanusch, H. (2008). Evoutionary economics. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Harsanyi, J. C., & Selten, R. (1988). A general theory of equilibrium selection in games. Cambridge: MIT.Google Scholar
  34. Hewstone, M., Stroebe, W., & Jonas, K. (Eds.). (2008). Introduction to social psychology: A European perspective (4th ed.). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  35. Homans, G. C. (1958). Social behavior as exchange. American Journal of Sociology, 63, 597–606.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kohlberg, L. (1976). Moral stages and moralization: The cognitive-developmental approach. In T. Likona (Ed.), Moral development and behavior: Theory, research and social issues. Holt: Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
  37. Latané, B. (1981). The psychology of social impact. American Psychologist, 36(4), 343–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Latané, B. (1996). Dynamic social impact: The creation of culture by communication. Journal of Communication, 46(4), 13–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Latané, B., & Darley, J. M. (1970). The unresponsive bystander: Why doesn’t he help? New York: Appleton-Century Crofts.Google Scholar
  40. Levine, D. K. (1998). Modeling altruism and spitefulness in experiments. Review of Economic Dynamics, 1, 593–622.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lewis, D. (1969). Convention: A philosophical study. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  42. Lin, N. (1999). Social networks and status attainments. Annual Review of Sociology, 25, 467–487.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. McCarthy, B. (2002). New economics of sociological criminology. Annual Review of Sociology, 28, 417–442.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Merton, R. K. (1938). Social structure and anomie. American Sociological Review, 12, 99–107.Google Scholar
  45. Milgram, S. (1973). The perils of obedience. Harper’s Magazine, 62–77.Google Scholar
  46. Morris, R. T. (1956). A typology of norms. American Sociological Review, 21, 610–613.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Moscovici, S. (2000). Social representations: Explorations in social psychology. Cambridge: Polity Press in association with Blackwell Publishers.Google Scholar
  48. Myers, D. G. (2002). Social psychology (7th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  49. Oosterbeek, H., Sloof, R., & ven de Kuilen, G. (2004). Cultural differences in ultimatum game experiments: Evidence from a meta-analysis. Experimental Economics, 7, 171–188.Google Scholar
  50. Parsons, T. (1937). Struture of social action. New York: McGraw Hill.Google Scholar
  51. Rabin, M. (1993). Incorporating fairness into game theory and economics. American Economic Review, 83(5), 1281–1302.Google Scholar
  52. Rousseau, J. J. (1755). Discours sur l’ origine d’ inegalite parmi les hommes [discourse on the origin of inequality among men]. In Oeuvres Complet̀es (vol. 3). Paris: Edition Pléiade.Google Scholar
  53. Rubinstein, A. (1998). Models of bounded rationality. Cambridge: MIT.Google Scholar
  54. Schelkle, W., Krauth, W.-H., Kohli, M., & Elwert, G. (Eds.). (2000). Paradigms of social change: Modernization, development, transformation, evolution. Frankfurt/New York: Campus Verlag/New York: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  55. Sherif, M. (1936). The psychology of social norms. New York: Harper and Raw Publishers.Google Scholar
  56. Simon, H. A. (1982). Models of bounded rationality. Cambridge: MIT.Google Scholar
  57. Skyrms, B. (1996). Evolution of the social contract. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Skyrms, B. (2000). Game theory, rationality and evolution of the social contract. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 7(1–2), 269–284.Google Scholar
  59. Spencer, H. (1897). First principles. New York: D. Appleton and Company.Google Scholar
  60. Turiel, E. (1983). The development of social knowledge: Morality & convention. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  61. Turner, J. (1991). The structure of sociological theory. Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing.Google Scholar
  62. Ullmann-Margalit, E. (1978). The emergence of norms. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  63. Verhagen, H. (2007). Normtypographies. In G. Boella, L. van der Torre, & H. Verhagen (Eds.), Normative multi-agent systems, Number 07122 in Dagstuhl seminar proceedings, Dagstuhl. Wadern: Internationales Begegnungs- und Forschungszentrum für Informatik.Google Scholar
  64. Vincent, T. L., & Brown, J. S. (2005). Evolutionary game theory, natural selection and Darwinian dynamics. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. von Neumann, J., & Morgenstern, O. (1944). Theory of games and economic behaviour. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  66. Wasserman, S., & Faust, K. (1994). Social network analysis: Methods and applications. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Weber, M. (1973). Über einige Kategorien der verstehenden Soziologie. In Max Weber: Aufsätze zur Wissenschaftslehre. Tubingen: J.C.B. Mohr—Paul Siebeck.Google Scholar
  68. Weber, M. (1984). Soziologische Grundbegriffe (6th ed.). Tübingen: UTB/Mohr Siebeck.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Corinna Elsenbroich
    • 1
  • Nigel Gilbert
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sociology Centre for Research in Social Simulation (CRESS)University of SurreyGuildfordUK

Personalised recommendations