What is the psychological term for people who believe that:

  • they have strong rights
  • that others should be nice
  • that others should respect unwritten rules
  • that others should not lie

They believe in rules that everyone should respect. They may hate hypocrisy, but for sure they judge other's behaviour and thinks that others should behave according to the rules.

What is the scientific term for this personality trait?

  • $\begingroup$ Not sure but may be .. "Self-righteousness" $\endgroup$ Mar 20, 2014 at 4:05
  • $\begingroup$ I see a tradeoff between this two extremes belefs: 1) thinking that everyone can do what he wants and we just have to "fit" this kind of society in some way (which way? competing? lying? killing? exploiting others?) and the opposite belief that is: rules should tell the people to be nice, helpful, prosocial, polite and so on. The ancient time, far west, jails, wars and speculative finance are perfect example of ruled by competition world. The movie "Demolition Man", the church are an example of a world ruled by mercy, politeness. Both this kind of society has pro and cons. $\endgroup$
    – Revious
    Mar 20, 2014 at 10:55
  • $\begingroup$ I guess the need for avoiding extremes may be lead to this answer: cogsci.stackexchange.com/a/6034/4425. I thoutgh it was the need for an average behaviour, but maybe the need is for every kind of behaviour which translates into avoiding too many people behaving / thinking in extremes ways. Maybe extreme and rigid believes become dysfunctional because the survival requires an high variability. $\endgroup$
    – Revious
    Mar 20, 2014 at 10:56
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ these traits are not nec all connected. re (3) see groupthink $\endgroup$
    – vzn
    Mar 20, 2014 at 15:25

1 Answer 1


The concept you are looking for is social conformity, which is opposed to personal autonomy.

Scales measuring this concept, such as the Feldman conformity scale (Feldman, 2003) and the conformity subscale of the "Portraits Value Questionnaire" (Schwartz et al., 2001), contain items similar to your examples, e.g.

  • Obeying the rules and fitting in are signs of a strong and healthy society.


  • Feldman, S. (2007). Enforcing social conformity: A theory of authoritarianism. Political Psychology, 24, 41-74.
  • Schwartz, S. H., Melech, G., Lehmann, A., Burgess, S., Harris, M., Owens, V. (2001). Extending the cross-cultural validity of the theory of basic human values with a different method of measurement. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 32, 519–542.
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This probably fits "respect unwritten rules" best. It fits the others reasonably well too because they're conventional, but if they weren't, it wouldn't. Of course, that's an odd hypothetical scenario, so +1 in any case :) But to whatever extent there are philosophically objective reasons for adhering to these ethical standards, one could still expect a nonconformist with a high level of moral development to endorse these beliefs as well. Also, conformity may not imply the same level of judgmentalism as the OP or authoritarianism. $\endgroup$ Mar 20, 2014 at 20:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I understand the examples to be attempts at illustrating an idea, not operationalisations in a scientific sense. I see the core of the question in the summary: "They believe in rules that everyone should respect. They may hate hypocrisy, but for sure they judge other's behaviour and thinks that others should behave according to the rules." Note that they may (but don't have to) be opposed to lying (hypocrisy), but that judging people according to how closely they follow the rules is essential ("for sure") to the wanted concept. Lying and friendliness are just examples of current conventions. $\endgroup$
    – user3116
    Mar 20, 2014 at 21:20

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