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Psychology Glossary

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Social Roles

Social Roles refer to the expectations, responsibilities, and behaviors we adopt in certain situations. The ideas for expected or “normal” behavior are reinforced both by the individual and by society. Each of us takes on many different roles, and we shift among them throughout our lives and throughout each day. For example, a working mother starts her day in the role of a mom, in which she is expected to feed her children and get them ready for school. At the office she shifts to the role of project manager, where she oversees projects in a timely and professional manner. On her lunch break she may take on the role of friend, in which she listens to a coworker’s problems. If she fails to fulfill any of these roles she may face consequences, such as the loss of a relationship or loss of a job.

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