History Graded Influences: Definition, Examples of Normative

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What are History Graded Influences?

Normative history graded influences are events experienced by a particular culture at a certain period of time. The term normative* here means that the majority of a culture experiences the events — as opposed to a small group of people. These events create generational differences in a culture. For example, Baby Boomers (born 1946-1965) have very different outlooks from Millennials (born 1981-1998).

Major events like epidemics, famine or war have different effects on different age groups in a society. They can affect the passage of every life stage — from the age at which a child leaves home to when a person retires. For example, Millennials are less likely to move to a different home than previous generations; This could be a long-term effect of the 2008 financial crisis.

normative history graded influencesThe effects of these normative history graded influences can make it impossible for you to differentiate between effects caused by age, and those caused by cohort status; In other words, normative history graded influences are often confounded with age-graded influences.

Examples of Biological and Environmental determinants

Normative history graded influences can be broken down into biological and environmental influences associated with a particular historical events. Examples include:

  • Biological determinants: 1918 flu epidemic, malnutrition due to rationing in WWII, decreasing age of puberty.
  • Environmental determinants: 9-11, The 1930s Great Depression, the telecommunications age, The Vietnam War, WWII.

*Normative is a term often used in social psychology, where history graded influences are often seen. It has nothing to do with normality or the normal distribution in statistics, where the “norm” could be taken as meaning the average (Abeles, 2014).


Abeles, R. (2014). Life-span Perspectives and Social Psychology. Psychology Press.
Fry, R. (2016). Millennials overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation. Article posted on Pew Research.
Fry, R. (2017). It’s becoming more common for young adults to live at home and for longer stretches. Article posted on Pew Research. Retrieved November 15, 2017 from: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/05/05/its-becoming-more-common-for-young-adults-to-live-at-home-and-for-longer-stretches/
Pierce and Hardy (2012). Commentary: The decreasing age of puberty—as much a psychosocial as biological problem? Int J Epidemiol. 2012 Feb; 41(1): 300–302.

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