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Norms vs. Values: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on November 6, 2023

Key Differences

Norms dictate the behaviors that a society deems acceptable or unacceptable. Values, on the other hand, are deeply held beliefs that guide individual actions and judgments.
Norms often arise from societal values, shaping the way people behave based on what is collectively deemed important. Meanwhile, values are the root convictions that influence these behavioral standards.
While norms are explicit or implicit rules to ensure social harmony, values are the principles or standards that motivate these rules. Norms might change according to societal evolution, but values tend to remain more consistent.
Individuals can have values that differ from societal norms. For instance, someone might value individuality, yet societal norms might favor conformity. This distinction highlights the dynamic interplay between norms and values.
Both norms and values play crucial roles in shaping culture. Norms set the tone for behavior within a community, while values illuminate the reasons behind such behaviors.

Comparison Chart


Rules or expectations within a society.
Deeply held beliefs or standards.


Stem from collective agreement.
Rooted in individual or collective beliefs.


Can change more frequently with society.
Tend to be more stable and enduring.

Influence on Individual

Dictate what behaviors are deemed acceptable
Guide personal convictions and decisions.

Relation to Culture

Reflect the behavioral standards of a group.
Represent the foundational beliefs of a group.

Norms and Values Definitions


Shared expectations within a community about actions.
In many workplaces, it's the norm to dress professionally.


Fundamental beliefs that dictate behavior.
Family is a value that's deeply important to many.


Standards or expectations set by society.
Norms determine how we greet each other in different cultures.


Principles or standards deemed worthwhile or desirable.
The company's values include sustainability and innovation.


Informal understandings that govern society's behavior.
It's one of the norms to offer your seat to the elderly.


The ideals that give significance to our lives.
Values shape our priorities and decisions.


Established patterns of behavior expected by a society.
Norms help maintain order in social interactions.


Concepts or beliefs prioritized by an individual or community.
For some, environmental conservation is a top value.


Rules that define appropriate and inappropriate behavior.
It's against social norms to cut in line.


An amount, as of goods, services, or money, considered to be a fair and suitable equivalent for something else; a fair price or return.


Plural of norm


Monetary or material worth
The fluctuating value of gold and silver.


Worth in usefulness or importance to the possessor; utility or merit
The value of an education.


Often values A principle or standard, as of behavior, that is considered important or desirable
"The speech was a summons back to the patrician values of restraint and responsibility" (Jonathan Alter).


Precise meaning or import, as of a word.


(Mathematics) A quantity or number expressed by an algebraic term.


(Music) The relative duration of a tone or rest.


The relative darkness or lightness of a color. See Table at color.


(Linguistics) The sound quality of a letter or diphthong.


One of a series of specified values
Issued a stamp of new value.


To determine or estimate the worth or value of; appraise.


To regard highly; esteem
I value your advice.


To rate according to relative estimate of worth or desirability; evaluate
Valued health above money.


To assign a value to (a unit of currency, for example).


Of or relating to the practice of investing in individual securities that, according to some fundamental measure, such as book value, appear to be relatively less expensive than comparable securities.


Relating to or consisting of principles or standards
A value system.


Inflection of value


Beliefs of a person or social group in which they have an emotional investment (either for or against something);
He has very conservatives values


Core beliefs or desires that guide or motivate attitudes and actions.
Integrity and honesty are values she lives by.


Can an individual's values influence societal norms?

Over time, if many individuals adopt similar values, these can influence or change societal norms.

What are norms?

Norms are societal rules or expectations about how members should behave.

Why are values significant?

Values provide a foundation for understanding what is important and guide decision-making.

How do norms affect behavior?

Norms set expected behaviors, influencing individuals to act in socially acceptable ways.

Do values differ across cultures?

Absolutely, different cultures may prioritize different values.

What are values?

Values are deeply held beliefs or principles that guide individual attitudes and actions.

How are norms established?

Norms emerge from societal consensus, traditions, or shared experiences.

Can norms conflict with personal values?

Yes, societal norms can sometimes be at odds with an individual's personal values.

Are norms and values always aligned?

Not necessarily. While norms often reflect underlying values, they can sometimes conflict with personal values.

Can societal norms change over time?

Yes, as societal values and conditions evolve, norms can change as well.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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