Social Norms: An Excellent Definition

The social norms approach seems to be one of the most successful
methodology directed towards health problems and risks associated with
behavior that has been used lately.First developed by Alan Berkowitz and
H. Wesley Perkins, the social norms methodology has already encountered
The basic idea that Berkowitz and Perkins used in the development of
their methodology was that society is governed by social norms, norms that
may affect the way we act and some of the decisions that we take.For
example, the dress code of a certain organization may be considered a
social norm.The fact that we respect it and show up at work wearing a
suit and tie instead of jeans influences the way we dress up and creates a
Berkowitz and Perkinsfirst used this idea to investigate the
influence of social norms on alcohol consumption in teenagers, high school
and college students.Their research sustained the idea that alcohol
consumption in this age group was greatly influenced by what they believed
the consumption of alcohol was within the ranks of their colleagues.
Indeed, they generated the idea that the “false norm”, as they
referred to it, “created imaginary peer pressure to drink higher quantities
and more frequently than would actually occur”[1].Following this initial
assumption, acting upon the premise or cause (the false norm) and
correcting it may mean the change of the effect (the higher consumption of
However, in this essay we will refer more to an excellent definition
given by Ann E. Carlson in an article, where social norms are those type of
“nonlegal rules and obligations that individuals follow because failure to
do so subjects them to various social sanctions, including gossip,
ostracism, even violence, or personal feelings of guilt or shame”[2].
In the case of healthcare delivery, an excellent example, somewhat

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