Anticipatory socialization occurs when we start learning new norms and values in anticipation of a role we’ll occupy in the future. Making necessary adjustments in advance makes the actual transition into the new role easier. Also, by adopting some of the norms and values of a future role, we can evaluate whether that role will be right for us when the time comes to assume it.

Example: A police officer who is about to begin working the night shift adjusts his sleeping habits several weeks before his start date. He goes to bed an hour later each evening, anticipating his new schedule of staying awake all night and sleeping during the day. Likewise, some couples live together before getting married to see whether they feel comfortable in that future role. They test the role of spouse before committing to it legally.

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