There's No Single List Of Social Rules And Norms

People who struggle socially sometimes ask if there's a big list of interpersonal rules and norms they can refer to, hopefully with explanations for why each guideline is the way it is. I've noticed individuals with Asperger's Syndrome are especially likely to wonder about this, since they have a harder time picking up unwritten social rules through intuition.

Unfortunately there isn't one handy list of social rules out there. There are books and articles that cover some of the more clear cut or basic ones, but it would be totally impractical to record everything, especially at a very specific, fine-grained level that spelled out exactly what to do in every circumstance.

Why compiling a master list of social norms is unrealistic

There are just too many different social situations, and rules that can exist within them, to put everything down in one resource

It's the kind of task that may seem possible when you first consider it, but if you actually sat down and tried to catalog everything it would quickly get out of hand.

Rules vary depending on a number of factors

Most social rules aren't universally applicable. Different ones are needed based on the context. You have to know when to adjust or disregard them depending on the people you're interacting with (e.g., you're not going to use formal manners and etiquette at a frat party). They vary according to variables such as:

Say you're going to a party. Learning some general party Do's & Don't's may help, but several of the nuances you'll have to navigate will be quite different depending on whether the party looks like this:

Or this:

There's no way you'd be able to fully look up what's expected of you in either of those situations ahead of time.

Social rules are always evolving

If one existed, any master list of social rules would need to be updated constantly. There are things that were considered inappropriate fifteen years ago that are much more acceptable today, and vice versa. And of course rules evolve along separate paths in different subcultures, parts of the country, and so on.

New social rules are always being created

Think of all the social guidelines that have appeared regarding smartphones and social media. Some of them we've more or less agreed on while others are still up in the air. New social norms impact the old ones as well. For example, now that almost everyone carries a phone it's changed the dynamics of how people arrange and show up for get togethers.

If social norms confuse you there's no way to read them off one convenient list. You'll need to figure them out yourself. This article goes into how to do that:

How To Figure Out Social Rules And Norms On Your Own