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1 Prescribing or establishing norms (1) or standards; prescriptive. For example, decision theory and classical game theory are normative inasmuch as they seek to prescribe how rational decision makers ought to choose in order to optimize their own interests. Such theories are sometimes contrasted with descriptive or positive theories that seek to explain and predict the behaviour of actual agents. In an edited book entitled Decision Making: Descriptive, Normative, and Prescriptive Interactions (1988), the US decision theorists David E. Bell (born 1949) and Howard Raiffa (born 1924) and the US-based Israeli psychologist Amos Tversky (1937–96) distinguished a third category of prescriptive theories that offer advice as to how to act, given our acknowledged cognitive limitations, but some other authorities (and Tversky himself) consider them to be essentially normative theories.

2 Of or relating to data providing norms (2) or average scores, as in the standardization of a psychological test. Compare ipsative. [From Latin norma a carpenter's square or a rule + -ivus indicating a tendency, inclination, or quality]

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