Morés are “norms that people define as essential to the well-being of their group. People who violate morés are usually punished severely” (Sociology a Global Perspective, Joan Ferrante). In contrast to Folkways, morés are morally significant. They are based on definitions of right and wrong. According to, “Morés typically take the form of laws with strong sanctions such as imprisonment, ostracism, or death.” Here are a few examples of morés:  it is not considered acceptable to abuse drugs, such as heroine or cocaine; it is not acceptable to steal under any circumstance; it is not acceptable to murder; and it is not acceptable to wear a bikini to church.

    Consider the morés that govern how we eat our food in American and Asian cultures. In America, when we eat soup or other liquid food, it is not acceptable to slurp it up noisily. That is viewed as very rude and disgusting, and one who does that loudly in a restaurant will be reprimanded and perhaps asked to leave. In contrast, in many Asian cultural groups, vigorous and loud slurping shows enjoyment and signals genuine approval of the food, giving great satisfaction to the ones who prepared the meal.

    Each culture has morés that may differ from our culture’s expectations. Why the morés are significant or important to other cultures is often beyond the scope of our understanding, but they are real nevertheless. When associating with folks from other cultures, it can be a challenge not to judge their morés as wrong. However, an attempt to understand, and perhaps on occasion even to embrace, them may prove enlightening and even disgustingly fun.

    Can you think of some morés that would be acceptable in other cultures but totesawk if enacted in American and vice versa?


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