- The dynamic nature of social hierarchies
- The role of norm violations and hierarchical concerns
- Award date
- 30 January 2018
- Number of pages
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Social hierarchy is a fundamental feature of social relations. Hierarchies are appealing psychologically because they facilitate group functioning, which explains why they tend to be reinforced and perpetuated. Hierarchies, however, can also become unstable and eventually undergo change because people are motivated to compete for a higher rank and the benefits that come with it. This begs the question of how one ascends the hierarchy. One may demonstrate skills to gain prestige, but one may also attempt to climb the ladder through the demonstration of dominance displays, such as norm-violating behavior. Norm violations, however, create irregularities and may instigate a status quo change depending on how people respond to them.
So how do people’s responses to norm violations influence the transgressor’s potential to climb the ladder? In the current dissertation I propose that people’s responses to norm violators depend on the context. More specifically, I investigate the cultural context where a particular norm violation occurs, the leeway of the domain in which a norm violation is evaluated, and the involvement of the observer’s self-interest. The studies reported suggest that people’s concerns about their own position in the hierarchy (i.e., hierarchical concerns) are crucial in understanding their responses to a norm violator, since the violator’s behavior threatens the established status quo and may subsequently alter their position. Further studies also show that hierarchical concerns shape people’s attention to other information that signals a threat to their position, such as emotions that have informative value in the context of a hierarchical struggle.
- Kurt Lewin Institute dissertation series 2017-06
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