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Group Roles and Norms Essay

Explicit norms are rules that are clearly stated. Implicit norms are hard for people with difficulty with socially-based learning. Roles within groups are different tasks that different people perform and the specific accomplishments each is expected to attain (Baron, Branscombe & Byrne, 2009, p. 384). An example of an explicit role is a professor for a class. The students in the class play the explicit role in the course. The professor’s role is to guide and nurture their students. An implicit role that students have is that they are just as likely to have a great deal to offer to the class as a group if the professor can create a safe, accepting environment that encourages the free exchange of ideas.

Norms are rules established by groups which define acceptable and unacceptable behaviors (Baron, Branscombe & Byrne, 2009, p. 387). Horne (2004) specifically focuses on the sanctions which enforce the rules. An explicit norm for the classroom is that the students come prepared to class, as the roles are clearly stated in the syllabus. An implicit norm is that students have to come to class prepared.

Students attempt to enforce the implicit norm by letting the instructor know they are prepared for class. An explicit norm is the length of time for classes. The class can deviate from the implicit norm while adhering to the explicit norm that classes will meet the whole length of class time. Some of the initial consequences to deviating from the implicit norm which students are that they wish the professor will follow their body language to let class out early. This reinforces the explicit norm that they will come to class prepared, violating their implicit norm that they will not participate in class.

The professor can uses a form of sanctioning called Jeopardy. Professors can have students clear their desk so that students cannot attempt to enforce the implicit norm that class will dismiss early. Rewards are provided by group assessments. Creating accountability, both to the group and to oneself by creating a grading system that balances group work, daily grades, and tests is the best way to ensure a fairly smooth and regular routine to the classroom. Students unwilling to meet these explicit norms will ideally move on quickly to other courses where the implicit norms are more likely to be met or choose to adjust their behavior.


Baron, R. A., Branscombe, N. R., & Byrne, D. (2009). Social psychology (12th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.

Horne, C. (2004). Collective benefits, Exchange interests, and norm enforcement. Social Forces, 82(3), 1037-1062.

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