Sociocultural Factors Influence & Examples

Edith Forsyth, Allison Tanner, Lesley Chapel
  • Author
    Edith Forsyth

    Edith Forsyth has taught High School Business for over five years. They have a bachelor’s degree in business administration from University of Evansville, Evansville, Indiana.

  • Instructor
    Allison Tanner

    Allison has a Masters of Arts in Political Science. She has worked in the customer service and food industry since 2013.

  • Expert Contributor
    Lesley Chapel

    Lesley has taught American and World History at the university level for the past seven years. She has a Master's degree in History.

Learn what sociocultural factors are. Discover factors and values that impact economic development and cultural change, and examine sociocultural factors examples. Updated: 04/29/2022

Table of Contents


What Are Sociocultural Factors?

Societies are characterized and differentiated by their sociocultural factors. These characterizing conditions act as social and cultural forces that influence feelings, attitudes, values, thoughts, beliefs, interactions, and behaviors of individual groups.

Sociocultural factors play a vital role in shaping social development and functioning. They are synonymous with the traditions, patterns, and beliefs unique to a community or any other population group. It is important to understand these sociocultural factors to ensure thriving economies and effective governance. These forces drive decision-making in any given society. Understanding how these forces manifest and operate is key for businesses. Companies seeking to market their brands must demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of basic sociocultural information related to the target group.

People behave and respond to different circumstances, contexts, brands, and policies depending on their sociocultural factors. These drivers influence how people view and perceive the world and other people around them. In a business context, the willingness of a market to purchase a particular product or service depends on sociocultural factors. For example, Islam forbids the consumption of pork. It would be difficult to establish and successfully run a pork-selling outlet that targets such an Arab-dominated market. Sociocultural factors affect business, economic, political, environmental, and religious outcomes.

Diverse sociocultural factors characterize different communities, geographical areas, and population groups. What is considered normal in one society may be deemed immoral or unusual in another. For example, dressing in bikinis in the Western world is perfectly normal, but in Arab countries this is prohibited among women.

In countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Iran, women are culturally required to cover their entire bodies with the Burqa. Selling bikinis in Middle-Eastern nations would not make much business sense.

Muslim culture requires women to wear a burqa.

Photograph of Muslim women wearing the mandatory burqa

Businesses can enhance their effectiveness and chances of success if they align their strategies to the sociocultural factors of the target market.

Sociocultural factors differ from region to region depending on population factors, government policies, traditions, lifestyles, beliefs, and the environment. For instance, people in large urban societies are more likely to experiment with new and exotic dishes than people in small towns and rural areas. A business person planning to establish a Tacos and Tortillas restaurant would be better off targeting large cities than small towns in the countryside. Other examples of sociocultural factors include:

  • Income and wealth distribution
  • Social classes
  • Attitudes towards education and work,
  • Language, customs, and taboos
  • Business and health practices
  • Housing
  • Religious beliefs
  • Population size and housing
  • Social mobility
  • Age distribution and social values

Sociocultural Factors and Values

Societies are defined by the set of sociocultural values that shape how they approach situations, interpret the world, perceive money and make lifestyle decisions. These values also determine how different societies consider risks. Sociocultural values impact the economic development of countries. For example, sociocultural values allowed countries such as China to shift from agricultural intensive economies into industrialized nations.

Social values have a direct impact on living standards. The sociocultural values that impact interactions and economic development include innovation and religion. More complex examples include:

  • Materialism is a social value that places more importance on material (physical) possessions as a means to happiness and success. It comprises goals that focus on status, material possessions, and wealth. Societies that embrace materialism as a fundamental value system spend more on consumption. Such communities may be progressive but are also characterized by a low degree of interpersonal relationships.
  • Post-materialism advocates for political freedom, environmental protection, personal relationships, self-actualization, participation, and creativity. Contemporary societies are predominantly post-materialistic.
  • Risk propensity — Risk propensity refers to social attitudes and orientation towards risk. This sociocultural element is a critical determinant of business practices within any given society. Existing studies confirm that risk propensity influences the economic activities of people. People with low-risk propensity are less likely to participate in high-risk business deals.
  • Collectivism — Societies that embrace collectivism which focuses on the importance of community well-being. Societies that uphold collectivism are more united and altruistic.
  • Individualism — Individualism promotes the self-interests and rights of each person. Communities that endorse individualism promote personal identity and independence.

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Understanding Sociocultural Development

Each culture has diverse factors that influence its sociocultural development and cultural change. Understanding the interaction between these factors provides sociologists with valuable insight into social phenomena.

The next sections explore sociocultural development and cultural change in detail.

Sociocultural Development

Scientific research proves that sociocultural development directly affects individual cognition and intelligence. For example, one society may educate children to play indoors with toys, while another culture encourages them to play and interact outdoors. Both these societies will shape the intelligence and cognition of their children in different, unique, and diverse ways. Human intelligence and cognition translate to cultural attitudes, behaviors, and values.

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Additional Activities

Prompts About the Impact of Sociocultural Factors on Economic Development:

Essay Prompt 1:

In approximately one to two paragraphs, write an essay that defines sociocultural values and economic development, and describes how these two elements are interconnected.

Example: A huge amount of economic development occurred as a result of the Industrial Revolution.

Essay Prompt 2:

Write an essay of about one to two paragraphs that explains the dynamics of risk propensity and innovation in a society. Consider the following question in your essay: How might innovation and risk propensity play off of each other?

Example: A society with a low threshold for risk propensity may lack innovation.

Essay Prompt 3:

In at least two paragraphs, write an essay that answers the following question: How can the values of thrift, religion, and obedience impact a society's economic development?

Example: A dominant religion whose scripture places high value on helping people might impact economic development by causing members of society to conduct business in fairer ways.

Graphic Organizer Prompt 1:

Create a chart, poster, or some other type of graphic organizer that compares and contrasts materialism and post-materialism and shows how these values can manifest in a society.

Example: A post-materialistic society might be one in which the norm is for employers to offer free yoga classes to their employees. This would reflect this society's focus on spiritual growth.

Graphic Organizer Prompt 2:

Make a poster, chart, or some other type of graphic organizer that compares and contrasts collectivism versus individualism.

Example: In collectivism, economic endeavors are meant to benefit the masses.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the meaning of sociocultural factors?

Social cultural factors influence people's feelings, behaviors, attitudes, values, beliefs and interactions. These factors shape social development, economic development and cultural change.

What are examples of sociocultural factors?

Social cultural factors influence the feelings, attitudes, values, beliefs and interactions of a populaiton group. Examples include social classes, religious norms, wealth distribution, language, business and health practices, social values and attitude towards work.

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