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Topic Videos

Positive and Normative Statements

GCSE, AS, A-Level, IB
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB, Eduqas, WJEC

Last updated 7 Jan 2023

This topic video looks at positive and normative statements.

Positive statements are statements that describe or explain a phenomenon or relationship in the world. They are based on factual observations or evidence and can be tested and verified through empirical analysis. Positive statements are objective and do not involve value judgments or personal opinions.

Examples of positive statements include:

  1. The average temperature in New York City in July is 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. The demand for petrol and diesel is inversely related to the price of petrol and diesel
  3. The gross domestic product (GDP) of the United States increased by 2.3% in the second quarter of 2021.

Normative statements are statements that involve value judgments or express personal opinions about what ought to be or what should be. They are not based on factual observations or evidence and cannot be tested or verified through empirical analysis. Normative statements often involve subjective evaluations of what is considered good, bad, right, or wrong.

Examples of normative statements include:

  1. The government should increase taxes on tobacco products in order to reduce smoking.
  2. It is wrong for people to discriminate against others based on their race or ethnicity.
  3. Higher education should be free for all students. Tuition fees should be abolished.

Exam hint:

Deciding whether a statement is positive or normative is a common multiple-choice question. Examiners may include words such as ‘should’ in statements that are positive (this is done to make students think that they are normative!). The rule-of-thumb is that students should always consider whether the statement can be tested. If it can be tested, then it is a positive statement.

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