Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Consideration for others stimulates positive behaviour

25.03.2008
Imagine that you are walking in the park and you have just finished a can of drink. There are no waste bins to be seen anywhere. Just when you are considering throwing the empty can into the bushes, you remember that your mother would not approve.

With this in mind, you will probably continue to look for a waste bin. Even when we are not in the company of others, we can feel obliged to keep to certain standards of behaviour. Simply thinking about parents or a partner, for example, is enough to remind us how we should behave. These are the findings of research carried out by Janneke Joly. She will receive her PhD on 27 March 2008 at the University of Groningen.

It would appear to be self-evident that people’s behaviour is influenced by generally accepted social norms, yet this is not the case. Even when people are aware of these norms, they do not always comply with them. Why is this? Previous research has shown that norms influence behaviour primarily when they are temporarily made more accessible in our memory. It is not something that happens automatically. On the basis of her research, Joly concluded that our awareness of norms is increased in ‘humanized contexts’. In other words, we are prompted by others to attach importance to a particular norm at a particular moment. According to Joly, this happens in three ways.

Physical presence
We have all learned that we must be quiet when we are in a library. Joly concludes that this norm will become more important to us when we are surrounded by other people in the library. The norm ‘be quiet in the library’ thus becomes more important due to the physical presence of others. Other people can prompt us to comply with the current norms in other ways, even if they are not physically present but make their presence felt, for example by means of a laid table in a restaurant. We are more likely to be reminded of the norm ‘eat with a knife and fork’ if other people are present or we sense that people are present.
Personalized norm
It is also possible that an individual person is strongly associated with one particular norm. St Nicholas (the Dutch equivalent to Santa Claus) is an example of such a ‘normative symbol’. When children see the saint’s typical mitre or big book, they are more likely to share their sweets with other children and find it more enjoyable to do so. A test that Joly carried out with infants showed that they associate the saint with the ‘share and share alike’ norm. The results of this news were widely published in the media in November 2006.
On our mind
Joly also concludes that even the ‘mental representation’ of unfamiliar people, or especially friends or family, increases our norm awareness. The physical presence of people, or evidence of their behaviour, are not essential to emphasize norms. It appears that memories of people are sufficient to stimulate norm-compliant behaviour. In short, merely thinking about their mother will tend to make people more likely to conform to social rules.
Norm association
Finally, Joly’s research has shown that people strongly associate norms with each other. In general, norm awareness is increased when a humanized context reminds a person of a norm. Therefore, when you are in a library and the (apparent) presence of other people reminds you that you should be quiet, you will be more aware of norms in general. It is likely that, at the same time, you will also consider other norms to be more important. This is a surprising finding that has emerged from all the studies.
Curriculum Vitae
Janneke Joly (Groenlo, 1977) studied Social Psychology at the Radboud University Nijmegen. She conducted her PhD research at the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences at the University of Groningen. Her supervisors were Siegwart Lindenberg (Professor of Cognitive Sociology) and Diederik Stapel, Professor of Consumer Science at Tilburg University. Joly’s research is part of the ‘Breedte Strategie II’ project, a joint project of the departments of Sociology and Psychology at the RUG. On I June 2008, Joly will take up the position of Lecturer in Behavioural Science and researcher at the Police Academy in Zutphen. The title of her thesis is People on our minds. When humanized contexts activate social norms. /JR

Jos Speekman | alfa
Further information:
http://www.rug.nl/corporate/index

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Amazingly flexible: Learning to read in your thirties profoundly transforms the brain
26.05.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>