Norms vs Values: Difference and Comparison

What are Norms?

Norms are established by society, which are rules and standards set of behavior that people accept from each other within a specific space. Use of language, dialect, and etiquette fall under this.

Norms can be legal as well. Codified laws and regulations by the authority are also norms, and violating these will undoubtedly result in legal consequences. Norms are required to maintain social order and harmony in human relations.

For instance, the norm in a civilized society will be to give up your seat for an elderly or a pregnant woman. Again, keeping silence in a library is a norm.

In most cases, the informal norms are not written, but these are passed on with societal endorsement. On the other hand, legal or formal norms are inscribed.

Norms define what is unnatural behavior and not accepted by society. It may also lead to legal consequences. The societal norms can be the foundation of a person’s values.

What are Values?

Values are a set of beliefs and principles that steer an individual’s judgments and overall life. The values of a person will mold their character and attitude towards the happening of life.

Values contribute to decision-making. Honesty, forgiveness, and freedom are some of the values. Values can be of various types, such as moral, cultural, political, professional, etc.

One’s moral values or ethics and the sense of judgment make a man morally right or wrong. Similarly, professional values impact one’s behavior in the workplace. For example, dedication towards work and punctuality.

Religious values are also part of a person. These may be the driving force of every other variety of value. The values of a person mark them as virtuous or wicked and immoral.

Two different people can have different values even if they belong to the same culture and society. There can be few or drastic changes, and as long as they do not break the laws, they can exist simultaneously.

Difference Between Norms and Values

  1. Norms can be defined as societal values. There are some rules that we need to follow in order to have a healthy society. But values are personal principles that are the guiding force of an individual.
  2. Traffic laws and fixed etiquette towards each other are some norms that should be followed to stay peaceful. On the contrary, values are not fixed and vary from person to person. For instance, the honesty level of different people will not be the same, which is one of their values.
  3. Norms are applied throughout life while being a part of society. On the other hand, morals are applied while a person is supposed to choose his actions.
  4. Norms are created depending on a society, culture, or a specific place, while values are created by individuals for themselves.
  5. Collective values are the decider of cultural norms, and cultural norms can influence a person’s values.

Comparison Between Norms and Values

Parameter of ComparisonNormsValues
DefinitionNorms are some societal rules that are a dipstick of standard behavior standards.Values are, in most cases, broad and principles that guide morality.
ShaperSociety decides the normal, and it may differ in different societies.Values are principles that individuals follow.
ApplicationNorms are pre-set rules of behavior in a society.Values are morals that decide personal choices and actions.
SubjectivityNorms are culturally subjective.Values are personal beliefs that depend on the individuals.
ExampleBasic etiquette and traffic laws are some of the norms of a society.Honesty and freedom are personal values, and their definition depends on the values of a person.
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References
  1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0022022115600267
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/40104644

Last Updated : 22 January, 2024

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