Norm theory: Comparing reality to its alternatives

  title={Norm theory: Comparing reality to its alternatives},
  author={Daniel Kahneman and Dale T. Miller},
  journal={Psychological Review},
A theory of norms and normality is presented and applied to some phenomena of emotional responses, social judgment, and conversations about causes. Norms are assumed to be constructed ad hoc by recruiting specific representations. Category norms are derived by recruiting exemplars. Specific objects or events generate their own norms by retrieval of similar experiences stored in memory or by construction of counterfactual alternatives. The normality of a stimulus is evaluated by comparing it to… 

Figures from this paper

Counterfactual Thinking and Victim Compensation

Norm theory (Kahneman & Miller, 1986) identifies factors that determine the ease with which alternatives to reality can be imagined or constructed. One assumption of norm theory is that the greater

The Differences That Norms Make: Empiricism, Social Constructionism, and the Interpretation of Group Differences

We offer norm theory as a framework for developing some common ground within both feminist psychology and lesbian and gay psychology about the meaning of empirical differences between social groups.

Emotion and Rationality: A Critical Review and Interpretation of Empirical Evidence

The relation between emotion and rationality is assessed by reviewing empirical findings from multiple disciplines. Two types of emotional phenomena are examined—incidental emotional states and

Social norms, social value, and judgments of responsibility 1

We investigated the impact of social norms on responsibility attribution. We hypothesized that an actor would be held more responsible for a negative outcome when adopting a counternormative, rather

From norms to normative configurations: a pragmatist and relational approach to theorizing normativity in IR

Abstract Normativity matters in international politics, but IR scholarship will benefit from de-reifying ‘norms’ as units into a relational, configurational alternative. The alternative I propose

Irrational reactions to negative outcomes : evidence for two conceptual systems

: According to cognitive-experiential self-theory (CEST), individuals have 2 systems for processing information, a rational system and an experiential system. Research conducted under norm theory

In defense of a prototype approach to emotion concepts.

Emotion, anger, fear, love, and similar concepts have so far defied classical definition. This article summarizes one analysis of emotion concepts from a prototype perspective and answers criticisms

The discrepancy-attribution hypothesis: I. The heuristic basis of feelings of familiarity.

The authors provide convergent evidence for the discrepancy-attribution hypothesis and show that it can also explain feelings of familiarity for nonlinguistic stimuli and demonstrate that the perception of discrepancy is not automatic but instead depends critically on the attitude that people adopt toward their processing, given the task and context.

A Cognitive Framing for Norm Change

Norms are within minds and out of minds; they work thanks to their mental implementation but also thanks to their externalized supports, processing, diffusion, and behavioral messages. This is the

Counterfactual Thinking and Victim Compensation

Norm theory (Kahneman & Miller, 1986) identifies factors that determine the ease with which alternatives to reality can be imagined or constructed. One assumption of norm theory is that the greater

Self-Perception Theory

Likeness and Likelihood in Everyday Thought: Magical Thinking in Judgments About Personality [and Comments and Reply]

Magical thinking has perplexed anthropological theorists for nearly a century. At least three perspectives are extant: (1) Magic is a form of science, a relatively effective set of canons and

Attitudes vs. Actions

By definition, a social attitude is a behavior pattern, anticipatory set or tendency, predisposition to specific adjustment to designated social situations, or, more simply, a conditioned response to


At the psychological level the reasons for holding or for changing attitudes are found in the functions they perform for the individual, specifically the functions of adjustment, ego defense, value

Cognitive accommodation, language, and social responsibility.

The two studies reported here examine cognitive accommodation in a betting situation where a decision-maker perceives that the person for whom he is making judgments has a legitimate right to have an

Inductive reasoning: Competence or skill?

alleged fallacy is in interpreting experiments according to what is advocated by Western moral experts. However, we believe that this argument in fact also provides good grounds for the case of

Downward Comparison Principles in Social Psychology

The literature of social psychology contains a number of phenomena that appear to be paradoxical. For example, persons who face a threatening experience prefer to affiliate with threatened others