Social roles of norms are emphasized which can

Social norms are external factor that influences
individual’s decision to engage in certain behaviors. To be more specific, social norms are informal understandings that govern the
behavior of members of a society. norms are regarded as collective
representations of acceptable group conduct as well as individual perceptions
of particular group conduct (Jackson, 1965). While some social norms are
explicitly stated and enforced through the legal system, most social norms
arise from participation in social networks and are communicated passively or
inferred through observing the behaviors of other. In other words, they can be
viewed as cultural products (including values, customs, and traditions) which
represent individuals’ basic knowledge of what others do and think that they
should do (Sherif, 1936). Furthermore, in the field of social psychology, the
roles of norms are emphasized which can guide behavior in a certain situation
or environment as “mental representations of appropriate behavior”
(Aarts & Dijksterhuis, 2003).

             In
emerging adulthood, individuals no longer consider themselves to be an adolescent
but they do not entirely identify as adult so they try to adopt new behaviors. Based on Social Norms Theory,
changes in perceptions of social norms should lead to changes in behavior by
group members as they modify their actions to adhere to the new social
standard. One of the important characteristics
of emerging adulthood is emerging adults tend to have a strong motivation to
behave according to social norms as a means of obtaining approval from others,
including their peers, and other influential adults. Thus, emerging adults tend
to rely social norms when they determine their behavior (Ruben, 2012).

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Then,
what if emerging adult is influenced by unhealthy social norm? Social Norm
Theory predicts that pervasive misperceptions of peer norms encourage emerging
adults to engage in unhealthy behaviors in an attempt to conform to the
perceived social norms. Importantly, perceptions of social norms are subjective
and misperceptions of these norms that reinforce negative behaviors among a
particular group can be corrected. This might
explain why several types of risky behaviors, like unprotected sexual activity
and excessive use of alcohol and other drugs, peak during emerging adulthood
(Roeser, 2013; Perkin, 2002). However, social norms also have some merits in
determining the behavior of emerging adults. Emerging adults may be able choose
their behavior more easily due to diminished parental monitoring as they moved
out of parents’ homes to live in college dorms or other independent living
situation (Arnett, 2000). Freedom seems like only
good, but sudden freedom may lead to confusion to emerging adults. It could be reassuring for young adults that there are
rules to follow in a confusing situation.