Social Group Membership, Personal Implication, and Reactions to Norm Violations

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Sturgess, Rhiannon
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Social Group Membership, Personal Implication, and Reactions to Norm Violations
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To better understand the role of social group membership and personal implication (i.e., the amount of personal impact resulting from a norm violation) in reactions to and perceptions of norm violators, we conducted a study in which participants watched a video clip of a fictitious norm violation. Participants were shown a picture of the norm violator depicting him as White, Black, Asian or an individual with an intellectual disability and were told that the norm violation happened either at Carroll (high personal implication) or Grinnell (low personal implication). Questionnaire items aimed to measure participants’ perceptions of the norm violator and the extent to which they agreed with suggested punishments (e.g., he should receive a warning, he should be expelled). Consistent with the Stereotype Content Model (Cuddy, Glick, & Xu, 2002), our results suggested that when the norm violation happened at Grinnell, Asian norm violators were more likely to be perceived as having “bad characters” and deserving of harsher punishments when compared to norm violators with intellectual disabilities. Norm violators were not treated or perceived differently at Carroll, opposing norm violation literature findings that high personal implication norms receive greater punishment than low personal implication norms (e.g., Brauer & Chaurand, 2010). The results of this study could benefit our society as we strive to understand differential treatment of people based on social group membership.
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