Penn Social Norms Group (PennSoNG)

Document Type

Working Paper



Publication Source

PPE Working Paper


This paper investigates the causal relationships among scripts, schemata, and social norms. The authors examine how social norms are triggered by particular schemata and are grounded in scripts. Just as schemata are embedded in a network, so too are social norms, and they can be primed through spreading activation. Moreover, the expectations that allow a social norm‘s existence are inherently grounded in particular scripts and schemata. Using interventions that have targeted gender norms, open defecation, female genital cutting, and other collective issues as examples, the authors argue that ignoring the cognitive underpinnings of a social norm doom interventions to failure.


script, schema, norms, social norms, gender, interventions, spreading activation



Date Posted: 24 February 2017