Categories Of Schoolchildren's Assessment Of Negative And Positive Borders Of Social Norm


Despite the expressed public and scientific interest in the specifics of the young generation life in a changing world and the declared readiness to rely in interaction with adolescents on an understanding of their own guidelines, the ideas of modern adolescents about social regulation have not received due research attention. The results of the study aimed at identifying semantic groups of norm-formation criteria and their correlation in the determinants of the boundaries of the norm in the views of modern adolescents are presented. 67 adolescents studying in Krasnoyarsk secondary schools took part in the study. To obtain data on the views of adolescents, a questionnaire was used containing open-ended questions "What can be considered unacceptable ...?", "What can be considered unworthy ...?" and “What can you be proud of…?” with the options “in your opinion”, “according to your friends”, “according to peers”, “according to adults”. Analysis of the results made it possible to determine that the criteria for normative assessment in adolescents are represented by such semantic groups as criminal potential, personal weakness/resource, ethics, relationships, social failure/success. In terms of significance these categories make up three hierarchical layers in the general trend. The first layer of significance is the dominance of the category "Criminogenicity" in the assessment of the unacceptable, the category "Ethics" in the assessment of the unworthy and the category "Social Success" in the assessment of the subject of pride. The second layer is represented by the "Relationships" category, and the third is categorized by the "Personal Weakness/Resource".

Keywords: Adolescence, evaluation criteria, schoolchildrensocial norms, semantic categories


Rationing is the most important aspect of the life of society as a whole, social groups and each person (Hogg, 2020; Wanders, et al., 2021). The need to study issues related to it, as analysts in the humanitarian sphere point out, is caused by the objective requirement of social life, since normativity brings order to people's relationships and social ties. In the course of social practice, people become aware of the necessity and social significance of normativity, and social norms are used as a condition and determinant of the individual's own social development (Bovina & Bovin, 2021; Nurmuhametov, 2013; Sachkova et al., 2021). The problem of social rationing becomes especially acute in adolescence (Becker, 2018; Shulga & Dvoryanchikov, 2020; Volkova, 2021).

Problem Statement

In the context of the development of social rationing adolescence is considered as a key one. The general position was its definition as a transition from childhood to adulthood with the most important task of forming readiness for adult (“correct”) functioning patterns. Under the conditions of institutionalized age discreteness and the interpretation of adulthood as maturity with the leading radical “responsibility”, such an understanding gives rise to appropriate attitudes towards adolescents. One of them is based on the idea of ​​a teenager as an immature adult, moving more or less successfully towards the positive pole of the scale of compliance with ideas of social responsibility. Another, seemingly alternative attitude states that adults should show maximum responsibility in what kind of world they will pass on to children. Basically, these two positions are variations of the general attitude to the assessment of "compliance / non-compliance" with some absolute samples, in the first case, implemented in relation to adolescents, in the second – in relation to adults. In developmental psychology and sociology authorities draw attention to the fact that such ideas and attitudes, characteristic of stable societies, no longer correspond to actual social transformations (Lukyanchenko et al., 2019; Sobkin & Kalashnikova, 2019). Researchers define such features of the social situation of modern adolescence as value-normative uncertainty, disruption of the mechanisms for transferring norms and values ​​to the younger generation from the older, characteristic of a stable society, the absence of a social order for a certain desirable life trajectory of a teenager (Khlomov, 2014).

Qualifying the attitude towards childhood and adolescence in Russian science, including in psychological discourse, analysts state that the methodological foundations for their perception must change. In a mobile multicultural world, the opposition of childhood and adulthood as segments on a monoscale with clear boundaries is already archaic. Childhood and adolescence have their own internal logic and, in relations with the adult world, they can claim understanding and dialogue, and not just evaluation in the parameters of formation. In this case, a minor is supposed not so much as a “child as becoming” (a child becoming in the perspective of future adulthood), but a “child as being” (a child as such “here and now”). At the same time, understanding is far from a simple matter, given that childhood is changing rapidly, and there is very little data (especially socio-psychological) on the state of childhood and adolescence in Russia (Polivanova, 2016).

As for adolescence, a certain bias can be noted in studies, associated both with the perception of it as marginal and with the prevalence of value preferences or desired personal characteristics as an object of consideration (Avdulova & Ukhanova, 2018). At the same time, the actual interaction with the world, its norms-regulators, as they are seen by adolescents, have not received the proper attention of researchers. Adolescents are especially sensitive to problems of normative inconsistency, but their own reference points do not necessarily coincide with the normative coordinates of the adult world (Chukhlantsev et al., 2021). Describing the state of the problem of social normativity of adolescents, the well-known specialist in this field Becker (2018) states with regret that those who try to build theories explaining it do so “on the basis of fragmentary studies and journalistic articles, instead of relying on adequate knowledge about the phenomenon that we are trying to explain” (p. 185).

Research Questions

The paper has to answer the following questions:

  • What criteria do modern teenagers use to evaluate the negative and positive boundaries of the social norm?
  • What semantic categories unite the evaluation criteria used by adolescents to assess the boundaries of the norm?
  • In what ratio are the main semantic groups of evaluative criteria presented in the teenagers' characterization of the negative and positive boundaries of the norm?
  • What features characterize the evaluative ideas about the negative and positive boundaries of the norm of male and female adolescents?

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to identify and characterize the criteria and the semantic categories that unite them, used by modern adolescents to assess the negative and positive boundaries of the social norm.

Research Methods

The study used the method of questioning. The purpose of the survey is to identify adolescents' ideas about the criteria for social-normative assessment (Moliner & Bovina, 2021). When compiling the questionnaire, we relied on the following. The norm is something implied, “going for granted”. Its design occurs due to the “edging” with what is perceived as non-normative both in a positive aspect (causes admiration, pride) and in a negative one. For the negative aspect the degrees of violation of delinquency and deviance are traditionally distinguished. In accordance with this the questions “What can be considered unacceptable ...?”, “What can be considered unworthy ...?” and “What can you be proud of…?”. Since adolescence is the age of relating oneself to others, and the formation of norms is closely related to these processes, the addressing of questions for respondents also took shape as multiple. Each of the above questions was asked to be answered in the following ways: in your opinion, in the opinion of your friends, in the opinion of peers, in the opinion of adults. Questions were offered in an open form. The answers of the respondents had a free, author's character.

Initially the free responses of the respondents were subjected to a qualitative analysis, which allowed them to be combined into several categories, and then the percentage of answers of each category for each question in each of the groups was calculated.


Qualitative analysis made it possible to determine the respondents' answers in generalized categories: "Criminal potential", "Personal weakness/resourcefulness"; "Ethics", "Relationships", "Social success". All categories except "Criminal" are bipolar, have negative and positive poles. The following determinants were assigned to the category “Crimigenicity”: murder, theft, prostitution, drug sales, fights, physical violence, animal abuse, poaching, banditry, terrorism, pedophilia, bribery, hooliganism, damage to other people's property. In the “Personal Weakness/Resource” category, addictions (alcoholism, smoking, drug use), self-damaging behavior, immorality, hypocrisy, hysteria, cowardice, demonstration of weakness, frivolity, cleverness, lack of intelligence are assigned to the negative pole; to the positive pole: the ability to “show oneself”, courage, honesty, poise, intelligence, sense of humor, “ability to communicate”, kindness. In the category "Ethics", the negative pole includes violation of the norms of behavior in society (in an educational institution), rudeness, lies, indecent appearance (clothes), "name calling", the use of profanity, "undressing on camera", "late festivities", disrespectful behavior, violation of someone else's space; to the positive pole: "decent behavior", observance of the norms of behavior in public places, politeness, respectfulness, "not discussing others." In the “Relationships” category, the following determinants are assigned to the negative pole: betrayal, betrayal of one's partner, behavior that offends people, nationalism, sexism, homophobia, “Don Juanism”, envy, humiliation of people's dignity, condemnation of people; to the positive pole: helping people, friends, animals, friendship, generosity, saving a girl, animals, protecting a child, volunteering, good family ties. In the category "Social Success", the negative pole includes poor academic performance, lack of education; to the positive pole: good studies, sports success, own crafts, achievement of one's goals, feat, material well-being.

For the analysis data on the percentage of answers related to the selected categories to each of the questions separately for girls and boys were used (see Table 1).

Table 1 - Ratio of response categories in groups of female and male adolescents, %
See Full Size >

Analysis of the data presented in the table allows us to give details about the following trends.

The category “according to peers” received the largest number of “I don’t know” answers. The position of friends seems to be more understandable to the respondents in the question of the unworthy, and the position of the parents in the questions of the unacceptable and the object of pride.

The leading places in terms of frequency of occurrence in the answers to the question about the unacceptable are occupied by the category “Crimigenicity”, in the answers to the question about the unworthy - “Ethics”, in the answers to the question about pride - “Social success”.

It is interesting that the answers of the “Criminality” category in the unacceptable category are presented more in comparison with other answers in the respondents' own position. In the way teenagers see the position of other subjects, the dominance of unacceptable criminogenic acts is not so pronounced. In other words, the respondents in the general trend see themselves as more “strict” in their intolerance towards criminal manifestations. And the least intolerance is noted in the position of adults. And this trend is more pronounced in girls.

The second place in the general trend of the frequency of occurrence in the answers to all questions is occupied by the answers of the "Relationships" category. The exception is answers about the opinion of adults regarding unacceptable actions. Here, responses in the category “Personal Weakness” have a frequency close to “Crimigenicity”.

The category “Relationships”more represented in the responses of girls. In the answers about the subject of pride, she even outstrips the category “Social success” that dominates in all other headings. In other words, girls believe that social success is the most important reason for others to be proud of. For them, it is also important, but not to the same extent as the bright manifestations of positive relationships.


The final generalization of the above can be presented in the following theses.

Despite the expressed public and scientific interest in the specifics of the life of the young generation in a changing world and the declared readiness to rely in interaction with adolescents on an understanding of their own guidelines, the ideas of modern adolescents about socialhave not received due research attention. We conducted a study focused on this issue, which revealed the following trends.

  • The normative assessment criteria for adolescents can be grouped into five semantic groups (categories): criminogenicity, personal weakness/resourcefulness, ethics, relationships, social failure/success.
  • According to the frequency of occurrence, which can be considered as the equivalent of significance, these categories form a kind of three layers. The first layer: categories dominating in separate determinants of the boundaries of the norm: “criminogenicity” in “inadmissible”, “ethics” in “unworthy”, “social success” in what “one can be proud of”. These categories can be characterized as socially given. The second layer: the category of “relationships”, which is heavily represented in all determinants of the boundaries of the norm, which in some cases competes with specializedly dominant categories. The third layer: the category "personal weakness/resource", which has the least representation in the criteria of normativity. It is easy to see that this determines the hierarchy of rationing criteria from socially focused to personality-focused.
  • In the representation of the criteria for rationing, girls in comparison with boys, have a greater representation of the category "Relationships", while boys in comparison with girls chose the category "Social Success" in greater extend. That is, the category “Relationships” is more common among girls than among boys, and the category “Social success” is more common among boys than girls. This trend suggests that basic gender preferences have not changed drastically.
  • In the view of adolescents, adults are less intolerant of criminogenic manifestations than adolescents themselves.
  • The opinion of peers regarding the criteria of social rationing seems to be the least understandable for adolescents in comparison with the opinion of other subjects (their own, friends and adults).

In our opinion the results of the study open up prospects for the development of psychologically based technologies for dialogue with modern adolescents, aimed at building confidence and flexibility in interaction in a modern multi-normative society.


Natalya V. Lukyanchenko, the study was supported by the Russian Science Foundation grant No. 22-28-20026, in cooperation with the Krasnoyarsk Regional Foundation for Support of Scientific and Scientific and Technical Activities.

Lidiya S. Zakharova, the study was supported by the Russian Science Foundation grant No. 22-28-20026, together with the Krasnoyarsk Regional Foundation for Support of Scientific and Scientific and Technical Activities.

Mark I. Alikin, the study was supported by a grant from the Russian Science Foundation No. 22-28-20026, in cooperation with the Krasnoyarsk Regional Foundation for Support of Scientific and Scientific and Technical Activities.


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29 August 2022

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Lukyanchenko, N. V., Zakharova, L. S., & Alikin, M. I. (2022). Categories Of Schoolchildren's Assessment Of Negative And Positive Borders Of Social Norm. In I. Kovalev, & A. Voroshilova (Eds.), Economic and Social Trends for Sustainability of Modern Society (ICEST-III 2022), vol 127. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 275-281). European Publisher.