I'm trying to make a survey and I'm having trouble to find a scale to measure the adoption of norms.

The people who fill in the survey have to think about a situation in which they were ashamed. For example, they stole something, got caught and the entire school knew of it. I'd like to measure to what extent they have adopted new behavioural norms to handle the situation differently in the future (e.g., not steal). The most convenient scale would be a likert scale, which is easy to analyse statistically.

I have read dozens of papers about recidivism, norm incorporation, norm adoption, ... but none of them seem to measure how I'd like to do it. My survey has to be backed up by literature, but in this case, after many hours and hours (for the past several weeks) I can't seem to find what I'm looking for. I'm disposing of a university account that has access to most academical papers

When I was looking at recidivism, the scales I found were just asking demographic questions and other questions to assess whether or not the subject would be doing the same crime again. It weren't questions that you could ask to see if the subject had incorporated new social norms. Other research about norm adoption/incorporation just handles the subject as such without assessing it. Maybe there is a common used term for norm incorporation which I can't seem to find (not a native speaker)?


2 Answers 2


Yes -- I would look into the literature of attitude change. I think this research would be relevant to your hypotheses. Here's the Wikipedia article for attitude change, and here's a representative paper from that literature that might be useful. At any rate, I don't think the phrase "norm adoption" is the right wording for what you're studying in English. Does this help?


If you have spent hours and hours trying to find a scale, that may or may not exist, I think you need to move forward and think different. You have access to some of the worlds collected knowledge as a student, but can't find anything useful. Either the scale your looking for is not present or it is not enough recognized by the research community to bubble up to the surface as you search.

You have two options. (1) Find another research area, witch would lead to waste of time since you have already spent a lot of time on this research topic. (2) Invent the scale yourself, because that's how we build knowledge. That’s very easy to write, but much harder to invent and implement. Still, you have (probably) already an idea of what to measure and how to do it. If it were my teacher in school they would roll out the red carpet if I even tried to do something this bold.

To make it easy, you can use a nominal scale where you just categorize different adaptations to norm without order. Just make distinct definition of each category, based on knowledge from the papers you have already read. If you are confident that these things can be ordered, use an ordinal scale which can be as simple as (1) adapts norm completely, (2) does not fully adapt the norm and (3) does not adapt norm. This can of course be extended - but the more you divide the ordinal scale, the more crucial is the definition. The good thing about the ordinal scale is that it does not take into account the distance between each element, just the position.

I know that this is not what you expected as an answer to your question, but I want to help you the best way I can. Hope this helps.

A good start on measurement: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Level_of_measurement

  • $\begingroup$ I have already implemented my own scale, but the person who guides the research did not like this because it wasn't backed up by literature. It has to be because the results of the research will be used in a doctoral dissertation. The only way to apply my own scale is by measuring if my scale would be accurate, which would be a research on its own and there is no time for that. $\endgroup$
    – J. Maes
    Mar 31, 2012 at 20:10

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