Reaction to Norm Essay

The Relationship between Authoritarianism, Group Membership and Reactions to Norm Abstract Social norms are rules of behavior that society uses to assess the population. How people respond to a violation of social norms depends on a number of different factors. This paper looks at the difference between prescriptive and descriptive norm violations and how in- groups and out-groups react to them while looking to see if high and low authoritarians respond differently to these different types of norms.

This also suggests that people are connecting on a deeper level and tend to want to associate themselves with people who share some of the same ideals as them. Social norms are important because they help govern our society. They develop naturally and provide a sense of normalcy pertaining to how a society should run. Social norms are generally specific to regions and allow individuals to Judge whether or not a person is acting out of the norm. Two types: descriptive norms and prescriptive norms can categorize Norms.

Forsyth (1999) explained that descriptive norms are what most people do, feel, and think in a situation. People who violate these norms are usually viewed as unusual. An example of a violation of this norm would be someone who dresses differently from the norm, someone who has tattoos covering every inch of their body, or someone who covers their car completely in bumper stickers. According to Forsyth (1999), a prescriptive norm involves certain behaviors that people should perform. When people violate these norms, they are considered “bad,” and are frowned upon by other people in society.

For example, kicking puppies, drinking and driving, slapping one’s girlfriend, and shoplifting are seen as “bad” and are therefore classified as prescriptive norm violations. Certain norms a person does or does not follow, can often affect what type of group they identify with. If a person is a member of a group, they view themselves as the in-group. If a person is not a member of a group, they see that crowd as the out-group. For example, if an individual’s favorite baseball team were the Atlanta Braves, they would consider everyone else who supports the Braves as part of the in-group.

On the other hand, they would also consider those people who support the New York Yankees as part of the out-group simply because they support a team other than the Braves. Concerning in-group and out-group status, Kessler and Coors (2008) concluded that if people identify with a social group, they perceive everything affecting this group, the in- group, as important. On the other hand, on a general level, an example of an out- group would be a group that one does not identify with. In many ways, prescriptive norm violations are more serious than descriptive norm violations.

Accordingly, group members Judge those norms differently. Marques, Abram, and Serious (2001) showed that group members are especially sensitive to deviance from generic restrictive norms when the in-groups” claim to be embracing those norms is accord with our values and leave groups that we do not fit into. When groups are based on the same values, they hold similar moral ideals. When group members violate prescriptive norms, they are defying those values and those members no longer wish to be associated with that group.

Crinkled (2005) looked at group processes and individual tendencies, which focused on both authoritarianism and on social dominance as a product of group dynamics. Crinkled (2005) also showed how individuals are Judged within the group. A member who violates an important norm provokes normative differentiation; other members Judge him severely and seek to distance him from the group. Although norm violations are often reprimanded, there are a few exceptions. Crinkled (2005) showed that fondness for one’s in-group and conformity to its norms do not in themselves imply hostility toward nonconforming fellow members.

Holders of non- normative opinions are sometimes shown leniency by virtue of their shared group membership. Under some conditions, groups cherish their more extreme members. Someone who holds a non-normative opinion would all under the less serious category of a descriptive norm where they would often be judged less harshly and sometimes even be appreciated. Not all group members identify strongly with their group. Crinkled (2005) demonstrated that low identifiers responded to negative in-group members by further detaching themselves from the group.

Therefore, because they do not feel a strong connection with their group, they find it much easier to distance themselves from the group then to try and fit in. On the other hand, Crinkled (2005) showed that high identifiers believe that adhering to important group norms is significant to group membership and members will be reprimanded if they threaten the preservation of those norms. However, evidence shows that members may not initially follow up on a norm that was only violated once.

Crinkled (2005) showed that group members only punished an anti- norm deviant when the relevant norm was threatened by frequent violation. Generally speaking, in-groups tend to care more about their own group members so they strive to uphold their important norms and become less concerned with the out-group behavior. Marques, Abram, and Serious (2001) showed that individuals are titivated to try to persuade deviant in-group, but not deviant out-group, members to change their opinion. In general, groups tend to reprimand members who violate the norms that most people view as morally wrong, like prescriptive norms.

Crinkled (2005) recognized that people to whom a group membership is salient and valuable are likely to express normative attitudes or even to advocate extremities “moral majority’ ideas. Individuals that have an authoritarian personality also hold group membership as something valuable however, they tend to advocate ideas and norms hat are specific to the group, and not necessarily what the majority believes. According to the Adorn (1950) theory, authoritarians are categorized by conventionalism, submission, aggression, superstition, stereotype, power and toughness, cynicism, projective, and destructiveness.

In general, authoritarians have a fondness for order. Crinkled (2005) showed that authoritarian desire for social control is an outgrowth of their fear of social disorder and rebellion, so they become particularly anxious about social disorder and the harmful actions of social deviants. Therefore, authoritarians should be less fond of norm violations in general, and Coors (2008) showed that, authoritarians tend to be aggressive against people or groups of people if they perceive that these targets deviate from established norms and conventions.

So, whereas in general, in-groups tend to be most concerned with members who violate the norms that most people view as morally wrong, like prescriptive norms, authoritarians in the in-group tend to reprimand in-group members who violate the specific norms that they establish within their group, which could encompass both descriptive and prescriptive norms. Therefore, authoritarians may also express aggression or disapproval towards those who violate both descriptive and prescriptive norms.

In conclusion, the results seem to reveal an overall trend that participants viewed prescriptive norm violations more negatively than descriptive norm violations. This effect for norm type shows that students do care about how others are treated and that when people engage in immoral acts such as, stealing, cheating, or treating animals inhumanely, it should be taken as a serious offense and should affect the way they view that person. Additionally, participants desired to interact more with heir in-groups than with the out-groups, even when the in-groups committed prescriptive norm violations.

The results suggest that individuals both high and low in authoritarianism have their own morals, ideals, and standards, which they use to judge other people’s character and their desire to interact with them in several different situations. In accordance with the research, people must view prescriptive norm violations as “bad” actions, which are frowned upon and seem to not want to associate themselves with those types of people. However, the results also showed the power of group membership.

If you are part of the in-group and you do something that others frown upon, the members of your group would still rather interact with you than interact with people they didn’t associate with who violated a prescriptive norm. This could suggest that people are connecting on a deeper level and Join common groups for multiple different reasons, which are partly based on accordance with their own morals. The rationale for this conclusion supports the finding that people would rather interact with someone they know who did something bad than someone they didn’t know who did something bad.

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