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Bodies Obliged and Unbound: Differentiated Response Tendencies for Injunctive and Descriptive Social Norms

Bodies Obliged and Unbound: Differentiated Response Tendencies for Injunctive and Descriptive... The authors suggest that injunctive and descriptive social norms engage different psychological response tendencies when made selectively salient. On the basis of suggestions derived from the focus theory of normative conduct and from consideration of the norms' functions in social life, the authors hypothesized that the 2 norms would be cognitively associated with different goals, would lead individuals to focus on different aspects of self, and would stimulate different levels of conflict over conformity decisions. Additionally, a unique role for effortful self-regulation was hypothesized for each type of norm—used as a means to resist conformity to descriptive norms but as a means to facilitate conformity for injunctive norms. Four experiments supported these hypotheses. Experiment 1 demonstrated differences in the norms' associations to the goals of making accurate/efficient decisions and gaining/maintaining social approval. Experiment 2 provided evidence that injunctive norms lead to a more interpersonally oriented form of self-awareness and to a greater feeling of conflict about conformity decisions than descriptive norms. In the final 2 experiments, conducted in the lab (Experiment 3) and in a naturalistic environment (Experiment 4), self-regulatory depletion decreased conformity to an injunctive norm (Experiments 3 and 4) and increased conformity to a descriptive norm (Experiment 4)—even though the norms advocated identical behaviors. By illustrating differentiated response tendencies for each type of social norm, this research provides new and converging support for the focus theory of normative conduct. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Personality and Social Psychology American Psychological Association

Bodies Obliged and Unbound: Differentiated Response Tendencies for Injunctive and Descriptive Social Norms

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References (90)

Publisher
American Psychological Association
Copyright
Copyright © 2010 American Psychological Association
ISSN
0022-3514
eISSN
1939-1315
DOI
10.1037/a0021470
pmid
21171790
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The authors suggest that injunctive and descriptive social norms engage different psychological response tendencies when made selectively salient. On the basis of suggestions derived from the focus theory of normative conduct and from consideration of the norms' functions in social life, the authors hypothesized that the 2 norms would be cognitively associated with different goals, would lead individuals to focus on different aspects of self, and would stimulate different levels of conflict over conformity decisions. Additionally, a unique role for effortful self-regulation was hypothesized for each type of norm—used as a means to resist conformity to descriptive norms but as a means to facilitate conformity for injunctive norms. Four experiments supported these hypotheses. Experiment 1 demonstrated differences in the norms' associations to the goals of making accurate/efficient decisions and gaining/maintaining social approval. Experiment 2 provided evidence that injunctive norms lead to a more interpersonally oriented form of self-awareness and to a greater feeling of conflict about conformity decisions than descriptive norms. In the final 2 experiments, conducted in the lab (Experiment 3) and in a naturalistic environment (Experiment 4), self-regulatory depletion decreased conformity to an injunctive norm (Experiments 3 and 4) and increased conformity to a descriptive norm (Experiment 4)—even though the norms advocated identical behaviors. By illustrating differentiated response tendencies for each type of social norm, this research provides new and converging support for the focus theory of normative conduct.

Journal

Journal of Personality and Social PsychologyAmerican Psychological Association

Published: Mar 20, 2011

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