ArticlePDF AvailableLiterature Review

Deviance and Dissent in Groups



Traditionally, group research has focused more on the motivations that make people conform than on the motivations and conditions underpinning deviance and dissent. This has led to a literature that focuses on the value that groups place on uniformity and paints a relatively dark picture of dissent and deviance: as reflections of a lack of group loyalty, as signs of disengagement, or as delinquent behavior. An alternative point of view, which has gained momentum in recent years, focuses on deviance and dissent as normal and healthy aspects of group life. In this review, we focus on the motivations that group members have to deviate and dissent, and the functional as well as the dysfunctional effects of deviance and dissent. In doing so we aim for a balanced and complete account of deviance and dissent, highlighting when such behaviors will be encouraged as well as when they will be punished. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Psychology Volume 65 is January 03, 2014. Please see for revised estimates.
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Deviance and Dissent
in Groups
Jolanda Jetten and Matthew J. Hornsey
School of Psychology, University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Queensland 4072, Australia;
Annu. Rev. Psychol. 2014. 65:461–85
First published online as a Review in Advance on
June 7, 2013
The Annual Review of Psychology is online at
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2014 by Annual Reviews.
All rights reserved
group processes, black sheep effect, intragroup dynamics, social identity
Traditionally, group research has focused more on the motivations that make
people conform than on the motivations and conditions underpinning de-
viance and dissent. This has led to a literature that focuses on the value that
groups place on uniformity and paints a relatively dark picture of dissent and
deviance: as reflections of a lack of group loyalty, as signs of disengagement,
or as delinquent behavior. An alternative point of view, which has gained
momentum in recent years, focuses on deviance and dissent as normal and
healthy aspects of group life. In this review, we focus on the motivations that
group members have to deviate and dissent, and the functional as well as
the dysfunctional effects of deviance and dissent. In doing so we aim for a
balanced and complete account of deviance and dissent, highlighting when
such behaviors will be encouraged as well as when they will be punished.
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Deviance: the
violation of the norms
of a group
the expression of
disagreement with
group norms, group
action, or a group
INTRODUCTIONAND HISTORICALOVERVIEW ........................... 462
DEFINITIONSOF DEVIANCEAND DISSENT................................ 463
REASONSFOR DEVIANCEAND DISSENT.................................... 464
RestoringThreatened GroupPositivity.......................................... 467
RestoringThreatened GroupCohesion.......................................... 468
RestoringThreatened GroupDistinctiveness .................................... 469
RestoringThreatened GroupLocomotion....................................... 469
Restoringa ThreatenedSelf-Image.............................................. 470
THEVALUE OFDISSENT ANDDEVIANCE .................................. 470
TheValue ofDissent........................................................... 471
TheValue ofDeviance ......................................................... 472
TOLERANCEFOR DISSENTAND DEVIANCE................................ 473
Tolerancefor Dissent........................................................... 473
Tolerancefor Deviance......................................................... 474
OFDEVIANCE ANDDISSENT.............................................. 474
Qualitiesof theDissenter/Deviant............................................... 474
Qualitiesof theGroup.......................................................... 475
GroupTreatment ofthe Deviantor Dissenter................................... 476
StrategicFactors................................................................ 476
DISSENTIN GROUPS....................................................... 477
Classic studies in social psychology have focused on the pervasiveness of conformity and pressures
for unanimity. For example, the message of Asch’s (1951) line judgment studies is that conformity is
a powerful and prevalent force in groups and that nonconformists risk mockery. Social psychologi-
cal theorizing argues that group members will see deviance and dissent as dangerous for the group;
that they threaten people’s worldview, create uncertainty, and rob groups of momentum (Festinger
1950). Consistent with this, there is now considerable evidence that deviants are more likely to be
rejected than are group members who conform (e.g., Marques & Paez 1994, Tata et al. 1996).
This classic view sometimes obscures the fact that deviance and dissent are also prevalent
phenomena within groups (Haslam & Reicher 2012a,b; Jetten & Hornsey 2011, 2012; Reicher &
Haslam 2006; see also Moscovici 1976). Even in Asch’s original paradigm, only 12% of participants
conformed on all trials—a larger percentage (24% of participants) never conformed (Asch 1951).
Conformity is not the default in groups, nor is dissent and deviance the exception. Rather, con-
formity (like dissent and deviance) is observed only under some conditions and in some contexts.
What is more, even though deviants and dissenters are at times perceived as troublemakers,
these individuals can also be the most admired members in the group, the people who liven up
the group and who contribute most to the achievement of group goals. In sum, a growing body
of literature argues that deviance and dissent—although potentially stressful—are normal and
healthy aspects of group life and are often recognized as such by group members.
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Group norms: beliefs
about how group
members should act
within the group
Positive deviants:
individuals who
deviate by
contributing more to
the group than the
average group member
In this review, we start by defining our key terms and then elaborate on various motives that
group members might have for engaging in deviance and dissent. We then review work examining
reactions of other group members to deviance and dissent; focus on the value of and tolerance
for deviance and dissent for the group; and review the conditions under which deviance and
dissent are more or less likely to be punished by others. In our review, we focus mainly on work
that has been published in the past 20 years. We only refer to classic work when it is important to
understand the origin of ideas and when such background is needed to gain an appreciation of how
the field has developed. For reviews of earlier work, we refer the reader to Levine (1989), Levine
& Kerr (2007), Moscovici (1976), and Turner (1991). We also confine our review to deviance
or dissent in relation to relevant group norms. Therefore, we do not use the word “deviance”
to refer to criminality, delinquency, or other stigmatized behavior in society (an approach that
is quite common in sociology) and do not review the associated literature on this. Neither do
we review research on personal or interpersonal forms of negative and harmful behavior (e.g.,
bullying, aggression).
We define deviance as the violation of the norms of a group. As such, the likelihood that behavior
will be labeled as deviant is always determined in relation to (a) the content of a group norm that
is salient and (b) the contexts in which deviance and dissent are expressed. This means that the
same behavior can be perceived both as deviant and normative depending on the group norm and
context. For example, for boxers, hitting someone will be normative during a boxing match but
not after the match has finished.
What is considered deviant may also change with time. Group norms are dynamic, responsive
to contextual changes, and in constant flux. Group members negotiate the content of norms that
should guide behavior and may contest their validity when they are no longer seen as appropriate for
the group. As a result, behavior that was previously perceived as deviant might become conformist
when the majority changes its stance and other behaviors become normative (Blanton & Christie
2003, Chan et al. 2010). In the words of the sociologist Merton: “...the rebel, revolutionary,
nonconformist, individualist, heretic and renegade of an earlier time is often the culture hero of
today” (1968, p. 237).
Having said that, in social psychological research certain behaviors are regularly interpreted as
deviant in group contexts, and these tend to form the basis for operationalizations of deviance in
the literature. For example, deviance has been operationalized as possessing qualities or attitudes
that differ from the prototype (Hutchison et al. 2011), poor performance in a group task (Marques
& Paez 1994), disloyalty (Branscombe et al. 1993), engaging in socially undesirable or antisocial
behavior (see, e.g., Marques et al. 2001) or arguing against group interests (see, e.g., Castano
et al. 2002).
When we define deviance as the violation of group norms, we need to be open to the possibility
that norms can be violated in two ways: Individuals can fail to live up to important group norms
or reject group norms (i.e., negative deviants), or individuals can deviate by contributing more to
the group than the average group member (i.e., positive deviants). The latter deviants stand out
from the group in an objectively positive way, for example by evincing exceptional performance
or exceptional integrity (Fielding et al. 2006). Interestingly, and as we outline in greater detail
below, it is not the case that acceptance of these positive deviants is necessarily greater than the
acceptance of negative deviants.
We define dissent as the expression of disagreement with group norms, group action, or a
group decision. In many cases dissent can be considered an example of deviance, which is why Deviance and Dissent 463
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Table 1 Reasons for deviance and dissent in groups
Motivations for deviance and dissent
Motive 1: disengagement, disloyalty, or disrespect for the group
Motive 2: loyalty and concern for the group
Motive 3: moral rebellion—when personal moral convictions take precedence over group norms
Motive 4: desire to express difference, individuality, and uniqueness
Motive 5: tangible rewards and instrumental gain derived from dissent and deviance
deviance and dissent are often referred to in the same breath. But not all groups would see dissent
as synonymous with deviance. For example, in academia, being critical and challenging of the
status quo is collectively encouraged, and failure to engage in critical dissent might be seen as
deviant (Hornsey et al. 2006, McAuliffe et al. 2002). Out of respect for this conceptual difference
we avoid using the terms deviance and dissent interchangeably, although we acknowledge that
they are related.
What makes people conform, and what makes them defy group pressure? Traditionally, group
members are seen to conform for two reasons (Deutsch & Gerard 1955). First, in the face of
uncertainty, people look to others as a guide to reality and as a guide to the appropriate way
to behave (that is, they see others as a source of informational influence). Second, people may
conform so they fit in, obtain approval from others, or avoid punishment and social isolation
(normative influence).
The social identity approach (comprising social identity theory and self-categorization theory)
points to the importance of group identification in understanding conformity (Turner 1991).
Conformity to norms signifies inclusion in the group, makes members feel good about their
group membership, and is a way to express loyalty and commitment (Louis et al. 2005, Sassenberg
et al. 2011). In particular, those who are strongly identified with a group will be motivated to
conform to norms even when such conformity clashes with their own personal interests (Zdaniuk
& Levine 2001).
Because most research has focused on explaining conformity, far less is known about the motives
that might lead people to deviate or dissent from groups.1In Table 1 we identify five reasons why
people might seek to engage in deviance or dissent. Motive 1 captures the implicit assumption
of the majority of the literature: Because it is assumed that conformity is a sign of loyalty, then
deviance and dissent are seen to be motivated by disloyalty or disengagement (Blanton & Christie
2003). Indeed, those who are less committed to the group have been found to conform less to
salient group norms than those who are more committed (Spears et al. 1997). Packer (2008) has
argued that low identifiers’ behavior can best be described as passive nonconformity: Those who
are less committed to the group do not care about group performance or group functioning, and
their disinterest manifests itself as withdrawal, noncompliance, and indifference to group norms.
Others have focused on more sinister motives of deviants and dissenters and have associated their
1Of course not all deviance is motivated: Sometimes people deviate simply because they do not have the ability or awareness to
conform to normative requirements (Monin & O’Connor 2011). For example, newcomers may not be sufficiently socialized
yet to know the group norms or they may not have acquired the skills to conform. Because of space constraints, we do not
discuss these examples of deviance and dissent here.
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deviance: deviance or
dissent motivated by a
desire to attempt to
change group norms
for the better
Moral rebels:
individuals who give
priority to following
personal convictions
over group norms
when individual and
group norms clash
actions with a motivation to harm or sabotage the group (Warren 2003). In the organizational
literature, it has been noted that employees may deviate from norms because they are dissatisfied
with the organization, angry about a perceived injustice, or because they enjoy the thrill associated
with rebellion (Christian & Ellis 2013, Ferris et al. 2012). In some of those cases, the deviant’s rule
violation is deliberate, aimed at undermining the group’s well-being and functioning (Bennett &
Robinson 2000). These motives are particularly relevant when explaining deviance and dissent
among low identifiers (Cronin & Smith 2011).
The conflating of conformity with loyalty—and of nonconformity with disloyalty—is so en-
trenched in the literature that it sometimes obscures the fact that deviance and dissent can be
multiply determined. Motive 2 describes the other side of the coin of Motive 1: that dissent and
deviance can be motivated by group loyalty. That is, group members may dissent because they care
for the group and are concerned about the course of action that other group members are taking.
Dissent is then motivated by an attempt to change group norms for the better, a phenomenon
that has been variously described as “constructive deviance” (e.g., Galperin 2012) or “constructive
patriotism” (Shatz et al. 1999).
The normative conflict model of dissent (Packer 2008, 2011) speaks to this motive. The model
focuses on how those with lower and higher levels of identification with the group respond to
normative conflict (i.e., a discrepancy between current group norms and a group member’s per-
ception of what is right or moral). This model suggests that both lower and higher identifiers
might be motivated to dissent, but for different reasons. Whereas those who are less committed
to the group dissent or deviate because they disengage from group goals (i.e., Motive 1), highly
identified group members dissent because they care about the group. In other words, their dissent
is in the service of the group, aimed at changing group norms that they perceive as detrimental.
Because dissent by low and high identifiers is motivated by different concerns, the way in
which dissent is expressed will also differ. Low identifiers are more likely to engage in actions
that undermine the group (e.g., they might withdraw or aim to exit the group), whereas high
identifiers’ dissent reflects group engagement and attempts to improve the group. As we elaborate
below, because dissent is expressed in such different ways and motivated by different concerns, it
is also likely to be responded to differently by other group members.
A growing body of work provides support for predictions derived from the normative con-
flict model of dissent (Crane & Platow 2010, Packer 2009, Packer & Chasteen 2010, Tauber &
Sassenberg 2012; for a review, see Packer 2011). These studies typically involve designs in which
group identification is measured and normative conflict is measured or manipulated. When nor-
mative conflict is measured, participants are asked to what extent they find a particular group norm
harmful for the group (Packer 2009). When normative conflict is manipulated, participants are
typically presented with contexts in which group members engage in behavior or hold attitudes
that are harmful for the group. For example, among students, normative conflict arises when they
reflect on the negative health consequences of binge drinking (Packer & Chasteen 2010). In other
conditions, participants are asked to consider the extent to which engagement in these negative
behaviors might harm them personally. Consistent with the model, dissent is higher among those
who are more strongly committed to the group when participants perceive harmful consequences
for the collective (but not when considering personal harm). In contrast, perceptions of collective
harm do not affect the responses of those lower in identification, and levels of dissent among these
members have been found to be relatively low.
Motive 3 describes the fact that people often have moral convictions that prevent them from
following and acting in line with group norms (“moral rebels,” see Monin et al. 2008). For example,
people might resile from expressing racist comments even though the group demands this, or
they might resist harming someone else because that would be inconsistent with personal moral Deviance and Dissent 465
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norms. By way of illustration, participants in Milgram’s obedience studies who refused to go to the
highest shock levels often referred to moral norms that prevented them from continuing: “I’d like
to continue, but can’t do that to a man” or “I can’t go on with this; no, this is not right” (Milgram
1963, p. 376). For these individuals, nonconformity was less a choice than a moral imperative.
Consistent with this, subsequent work shows that those with moral convictions are less likely
to be swayed by group pressure. For example, in two studies examining attitudes toward gay law
reform and toward a government apology to Aborigines for past wrongdoing, those who had a
strong moral basis for their attitudes were unaffected by the group norm, an effect that was in-
dependent of attitude intensity (Hornsey et al. 2003). Indeed, on public behavioral intentions,
those with a strong moral basis for their attitude were more likely to act in line with their personal
conviction when they felt they were in a minority than when they felt they were in a majority
(counter-conformity). Along similar lines, Shamir (1997) found that prevailing government opin-
ion did not affect Israelis’ willingness to express their opinion about the Palestinian territories.
Presumably this was because the issue was of such personal relevance that concerns about social
isolation or punishment for dissenting became irrelevant.
Motive 4 relates to the notion that group members might dissent and deviate because they want
to express individuality and uniqueness (Imhoff & Erb 2009). In this sense we agree with Codol
(1984, p. 317), who argued that “both conformity and resistance to conformity are fundamentally
linked to the image of oneself that one wishes to present to others (and undoubtedly also to
oneself).” In some ways, deviance and dissent are ideally suited to help define and clarify that
image. Blanton and colleagues (2001) found evidence for this in a study where participants were
presented with a social influence attempt (e.g., that it would be a good idea for all students on
campus to receive a flu shot). When the behavior was described as the right thing to do, students’
intentions to get a flu shot were higher when such behavior was counternormative (i.e., only a
minority of students on campus were expected to get a flu shot) than when such behavior was
perceived as normative for the group (i.e., it was anticipated that the majority of students on
campus would get a flu shot). Consistent with these findings, other research has found that people
can endorse a minority position (rather than a majority position) as a way of clarifying their self-
concept and communicating to others who they are (Rios Morrison & Wheeler 2010). Particularly
when publicly expressed, dissent and deviance might be good ways to enhance individuality and
uniqueness in group contexts (Blanton & Christie 2003).
The desire to stand out and be different may be especially pronounced when people attribute
the normative consensus to obedience. Conway & Schaller (2005) found that, when an authority
explicitly commanded group members to make a particular choice, this enhanced participants’
desire to deviate from that group norm (and especially when the authority was still present). The
principles of reactance—and the associated desire for control and authenticity of expression—can
drive a perverse desire for deviance in precisely the conditions when the explicit pressure for
conformity is greatest.
At times the desire to seek out distinctiveness leads an individual to adopt norms, values, and
lifestyles that run counter to the mainstream. For example, Jetten and colleagues (2001) found that
the motivation to shock others and to differentiate oneself from the mainstream was an important
reason for having body piercings. Interestingly, subcultures often emerge whereby all those who
want to be different express their difference from the mainstream in a similar way. That is, being
different and standing out with the aim of upsetting the mainstream may involve the development
of new subcultural norms strictly prescribing how one should rebel (Hornsey & Jetten 2004).
Finally, people might engage in deviance and dissent because norm violations are associated
with tangible rewards, making the costs of punishment less of a deterrent (Motive 5). The organi-
zational literature in particular has focused on this motive for deviance: Employees might engage
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Group locomotion:
the ability of a group
to achieve its goals
in fraud, steal from the company, or commit crimes because these behaviors are associated with
financial gain and success (Bennett & Robinson 2000, Warren 2003).
Another literature that has focused on instrumental gain as a motive for deviance is work on
impostorism (Hornsey & Jetten 2003, 2011; Warner et al. 2007). Impostorism is a particular form
of deviance and involves individuals breaking group norms by passing themselves off as genuine
group members even though they do not meet key criteria for group membership. Impostorism
allows people to cross what are normally impermeable group boundaries (e.g., gender, race, or
class) and is a way to obtain access to groups, professions, or classes that could not be legitimately
claimed otherwise. By resorting to impostorism, people are able to escape prejudice, can run away
from persecution, can gain social acceptance, or can pass themselves off as more successful than
they really are. For example, to avoid exclusion and prejudice, gays and lesbians may hide their
sexual orientation (Warner et al. 2007), and those who are HIV positive might not reveal their
illness (Molero et al. 2011).
In this section we review literature that has examined the motives for rejecting deviants and
dissenters, both for individual group members and for the group as a whole. We identify five
distinct motives: rejection of deviance and dissent helps to restore (a) threatened group positivity,
(b) threatened group cohesion, (c) threatened group distinctiveness, (d) threatened group locomo-
tion, and (e) threatened self-image. We discuss these motivations and recent empirical support for
them in turn.
Restoring Threatened Group Positivity
The notion that deviance and dissent threaten the positivity of the group—and that rejection
of these individuals serves the function of restoring positivity—dominates recent empirical work
(e.g., Castano et al. 2002, Hutchison & Abrams 2003). Indeed, this reasoning is at the heart of
work on the so-called black sheep effect (Marques et al. 2001). This work centers on two interre-
lated observations. First, a favorable in-group member (e.g., someone who is likeable, qualified,
loyal, attractive) is rated more positively than an out-group member who engages in similarly
favorable behavior. Second, the opposite effect occurs when group members are confronted by an
unlikeable, incompetent, or disloyal in-group member, such that the deviant in-group member is
rated more harshly by fellow group members than is an out-group member who engages in the
same behavior. Heightened derogation of the in-group deviant is seen as a form of in-group en-
hancement, distancing the group from qualities that reflect poorly upon it (Hutchison & Abrams
2003, Marques & Paez 1994).
Two studies by Hutchison and colleagues (2008) provide direct evidence that devaluation serves
the function of identity maintenance and protection. Among highly identified group members,
descriptions of the in-group were more positive the more these members excluded an undesirable
target. Reinforcing the notion that rejection of black sheep serves an identity-enhancing function,
making an intergroup context salient increases the derogation of in-group deviants and dissenters
(Chekroun & Nugier 2011, Matheson et al. 2003). Similarly, people who criticized their groups
faced heightened censure if they made their comments in public or directly to an out-group
audience (Elder et al. 2005, Hornsey et al. 2005). It has also been found that deviants are more
likely to be derogated (a) when the deviant behavior relates to a dimension of comparison that
is directly relevant to in-group identity (Abrams et al. 2008b), (b) when the group identity is Deviance and Dissent 467
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threatened (Branscombe et al. 1993), or (c) when the group’s position is unstable or challenged
(Marques et al. 2001).
In addition to the protection of group identity, derogation of in-group members can also serve
the function of protecting the threatened identities of individual group members. Eidelman &
Biernat (2003) showed that group members lower their identification with the group after being
presented with an in-group deviant. In that way, they dissociate and distance themselves from
these deviants and limit the threat of being associatively miscast with the unfavorable in-group
member. Chekroun & Nugier (2011) showed that rejection of in-group deviants was positively
correlated with the level of shame and embarrassment the deviant invoked.
One might wonder whether the fear that deviants and dissenters damage the positive image of
the group is real or imagined. This question has not been examined in great depth, but there is
some evidence from the stereotyping literature that the more typical of the in-group the deviant
is perceived to be, the more the image of the in-group is negatively affected by the deviant’s
presence (Castano et al. 2002). There is also evidence that deviants in other groups are perceived
as harmful to those groups. For example, Kunda & Oleson (1997) found that an out-group with
an extreme deviant in its midst was seen as less favorable than a group that included only moderate
Restoring Threatened Group Cohesion
The above research speaks to the fact that group members are motivated to see their group in a
positive light and so are especially keen to rid the group of members who behave in a dislikeable
or incompetent way. But group members are not just motivated to see their group as positive; they
also are motivated to see their group as tight, well defined, and cohesive. One reason for this is that
cohesive groups offer certainty and structure about what to think and how to behave (Festinger
1950). Thus, censuring of deviance and dissent can be a way of protecting the subjective validity
of one’s attitudes, beliefs, and worldviews. In extreme cases, divergent attitudes may threaten the
very definition of the group, leading to internecine conflict or schisms (Sani & Reicher 2000).
Another reason why cohesion is important is because it offers resilience in the intergroup
context. Classic work on minority influence makes the point that consistency and cohesion within
minority groups are important preconditions for converting the majority and changing the status
quo (Moscovici 1976). Minority groups that are fractured or riven with internal dissent are less
likely to challenge the majority’s worldview—or indeed to hold together. This might help explain
meta-analytical evidence that rejection of deviance increases as the proportionate size of the
group decreases (Tata et al. 1996).
Similarly, Janis (1972) makes the point that pressure for cohesion and unanimity is particularly
strong when the group faces threat from the outside (e.g., media scrutiny, budgetary crisis, or
armed conflict). Indeed, external pressures and excessive cohesion are two important ingredients
of the phenomenon of groupthink, one symptom of which is the active censuring of dissenters
by self-appointed “mindguards.” It is easy to recognize this phenomenon in historical events,
for example the normative pressure to silence dissent within the United States and its allies
following the two wars with Iraq (Kelman 1995). It can also be detected experimentally: Muslims
who criticized their religion in Indonesia faced significantly more personal censure from other
Muslims when inter-religious conflict was primed than when it was not (Ariyanto et al. 2010).
Furthermore, small-group experiments have found that intergroup conflict increases enforcement
of in-group norms, particularly when out-group participation in the conflict is high (Benard
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Restoring Threatened Group Distinctiveness
Deviants and dissenters not only threaten within-group cohesion, their actions may also undermine
between-group distinctiveness. That is, deviants’ norm breaking might mean that their behavior
is more representative of a rival out-group than of their own group, thus reducing the clarity of
in-group boundaries. Robbed of intergroup distinctiveness, groups can become fuzzy and poorly
defined, diluting their ability to provide meaning and self-definition for their members.
This principle is captured by the model of subjective group dynamics (Abrams et al. 2000),
which was established to help account for the black sheep effect described previously. According
to the subjective group dynamics model, people evaluate group members’ behavior as a function
of whether they validate or undermine prescriptive and descriptive group norms, and interactions
with deviants are shaped by the desire to enhance or maintain this subjective validity (Frings et al.
2012). Importantly, actions and attitudes are not evaluated in isolation but rather in the context
of a salient intergroup comparison. Consistent with this principle, there is now a large body of
work showing that deviants who exaggerate intergroup differences are liked more than deviants
who dilute them, even when the severity of their group norm violations is identical (e.g., Abrams
et al. 2000, 2002; Hichy et al. 2008).
Distinctiveness from relevant out-groups might be particularly important for minority groups.
One reason for this is that people use group solidarity as a buffer against the self-esteem conse-
quences of stigma. Thus, distinctiveness helps provide the kind of certainty and definition that can
nourish the self-concept and provide meaning. Another reason that distinctiveness might be im-
portant for minority groups is that it offers the psychological platform from which groups can work
to change the status quo. Work on impostorism in the gay community confirms the importance
of distinctiveness for minority groups. Warner and colleagues (2007) presented gay participants
with one of two targets who turned out to be impostors: a straight person trying to pass as gay,
and a gay person trying to pass as straight. Even though both impostors were disliked more than
control targets who had not resorted to impostorism, mediational analysis showed that they were
derogated for different reasons. Gay targets who tried to pass as straight were rated as damaging
because they were seen to be ashamed about their sexuality. In contrast, a straight person trying
to pass as gay was seen to be blurring the boundaries between the in-group and the out-group,
and this was associated with greater perceived damage to the group. Schoemann & Branscombe
(2011) also found that distinctiveness threat underpinned negative reactions to older people who
try to “pass” as young.
Restoring Threatened Group Locomotion
A fourth motive for derogating deviants and dissenters is that these individuals may cause emo-
tional, cognitive, and communicative stress, undermining the ability of group to achieve its goals
[what Festinger (1950) described as group locomotion]. Dealing with dissent and divergent opin-
ions can be emotionally and cognitively taxing for a group. For example, when confronted with
a deviant group member, those who strongly identified with the group showed reduced recall
on an unrelated memory task (Coull et al. 2001). Presumably, cognitive resources are needed to
cognitively “fence off” deviant members from the rest of the group.
When facing other stressors, groups can strive for premature closure whereby they seek con-
sensus simply to avoid being exhausted by dissent (Kruglanski & Webster 1996). Dissenters’ and
deviants’ actions are met with frustration when they slow the group down and prevent it from
achieving its goals. Derogation then serves the function of excluding those who stand in the way of
goal achievement. In line with this reasoning, Kruglanski & Webster (1991) found that dissenters Deviance and Dissent 469
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were evaluated more harshly when the group faced deadline pressure or when group members
were experiencing cognitive load (e.g., the discussion took place in a noisy environment).
Restoring a Threatened Self-Image
In the research on black sheep and subjective group dynamics, attitudinal deviance tended to be
operationalized on the basis of relatively neutral, nonmoral issues: Participants would be told, for
example, that participants were deviant in their attitudes about student accommodation (Abrams
et al. 2002) or their styles of imagination (Marques et al. 2001). But what might happen if the
attitudinal deviance has a clear moral flavor? This is what Monin would call a moral rebel: someone
who stands up and takes a conspicuous stance in opposition to a norm, expectation, or convention
that they perceive to be immoral. Images of the moral rebel are often heroic and noble: Nelson
Mandela’s resistance to apartheid; those who participated in the civil rights movement; and the
“unknown rebel” who stood in the path of the tanks during the Tiananmen Square massacre
(Wolf & Zuckerman 2012). Surely this subset of deviants would be received more positively by
rank-and-file group members.
Research by Monin and colleagues suggests otherwise (Monin & O’Connor 2011, Monin et al.
2008). As an example of the type of paradigm they used, participants were asked to take part in
a role-playing game that could be interpreted as racist. Somewhat dramatically, a confederate
refused to do the experiment on the grounds that it was offensive. Some of the participants were
third-party observers who witnessed the event but were doing an unrelated task in the experiment
and so were not personally implicated in the moral decision. These participants tended to reward
the moral rebel, describing him as more moral, likable, and respected than an obedient participant
who participated in the role-play. This effect, however, was reversed for those participants who
had previously engaged in the task themselves.
Monin and colleagues concluded that moral rebellion represents a threat to group members
on three fronts: (a) The rebel’s moral stance is seen as an implicit criticism of those who did not
take the stance, so group members anticipate condemnation from the rebel; (b)theactionsofthe
rebel make you question your own assumptions and attitudes, leading to a dissonance-like state;
and (c) the rebel strips those of us who conspire in immoral acts from the rationalization that we
had no choice. By reminding us of our freedom to act, the rebel makes us confront our own past
actions, leading to an existential crisis. In each case, the moral rebel arouses resentment, and a
solution to the threat posed by rebels is to derogate them and to deny that they are moral at all.
The moral rebel can be seen as an example of a broader category: the so-called positive deviant
(Fielding et al. 2006). Positive deviants can be constructive role models who trigger positive
change (e.g., Kraschnewski et al. 2011, Ma & Magnus 2012). However, in some contexts people
who perform exceptionally well can also face jealousy and resentment: They might be pressured to
reduce their performance, and their failures might elicit schadenfreude (Feather & Sherman 2002,
Shoenberger et al. 2012). Parks & Stone (2010) found that group members who were especially
unselfish in their behavior were seen by some as setting an undesirable behavioral standard and
were downgraded accordingly.
Even though social psychologists traditionally have focused on the threatening and dysfunctional
aspects of dissent and deviance, there is now a growing body of theorizing and empirical work
elaborating how these individuals’ actions can leave a positive legacy. Here, we focus on evidence
that dissent increases the quality of group decision making and how it is essential for creativity,
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innovation, and learning. We also discuss how deviance can sharpen the group’s understanding
of its values and how it can facilitate social change.
The Value of Dissent
The notion that dissent is essential for good group decision making is well developed. Research on
minority influence (De Dreu & West 2001, Nemeth 1995, Nemeth & Goncalo 2011; for a meta-
analytical overview, see Wood et al. 1994) has shown that dissenting minorities exert influence on
the group as a whole because they force the majority to think outside the box. It is also clear from
this body of work that minorities influence the group in a different way than do majorities. The
influence of minorities is indirect, delayed, and not always visible—when these group members
are influential, change is often not attributed to their influence. The value of opinion minorities
lies in their ability to guard the group against complacency, to challenge conventional wisdom,
and to keep the group sharp and on its toes. In that way, dissenting minorities can change norms or
behavioral conventions that have lost their utility. This resonates with classic work on groupthink
( Janis 1972), which demonstrated the dangers of having too much convergence and agreement in
the group, especially in the early stages of group decision making. The presence of dissent might
lead group members to tackle the faults of their group, and the dissenters’ critical stance protects
the group from suboptimal decision making (Packer 2009). Accordingly, there is evidence that
groups that include devil’s advocates make higher-quality decisions (Nemeth et al. 2001) and are
less prone to classic decision-making mistakes such as escalation of commitment in the face of
losses (Greitemeyer et al. 2009).
Dissenting minorities promote higher-quality decisions because they change the way groups
think and process information. Researchers working from within the minority influence literature
have shown that majorities instigate a narrowing of focus and convergent thinking (Nemeth
1995). This is because group members confronted with a majority position are mostly motivated
to corroborate existing views: They believe that because many people in a group say this, they must
be right (consensus implies correctness). However, minorities who express views that dissent from
the majority are more likely to stimulate divergent thinking, as group members strive to understand
why the minority is dissenting. Divergence of opinion also leads to dissonance in groups, and this
leads to greater attention to the message, the consideration of multiple perspectives, a reassessment
of what the issues are, and a motivation to reduce the negative tension by seeking a new group
consensus (Matz & Wood 2005). This work has led some to argue that groups would benefit from
adopting norms of critical dissent. For example, Postmes et al. (2001) experimentally induced
norms encouraging group members either to seek consensus or to engage critically with the
available information. Groups with critical norms were less likely to fall in the trap of focusing on
shared information at the expense of unshared information, and they were less likely to display
signs of groupthink than were groups with consensus norms. This, in turn, was associated with
improved decision quality.
Related to the impact of dissent on the quality of decision making, there is also evidence that
dissent—because it stimulates divergent thinking—enhances creativity and innovation in groups
(De Dreu & West 2001, Nemeth et al. 2001, Troyer & Youngreen 2009, Van Dyne & Saavedra
1996). For example, instructions encouraging criticism and debate within a group lead to more
creative ideas being generated than when groups are instructed to brainstorm (Nemeth et al.
2004), although this link may emerge only in groups where there is a high degree of participation
in team decision making (De Dreu & West 2001).
Van Dyne & Saavedra (1996) conducted a 10-week field experiment among natural work
groups. They also found evidence that groups including confederates who were instructed to Deviance and Dissent 471
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engage in minority influence developed more original products than did control groups. Interest-
ingly, they did not find any evidence that there was more conflict in the minority influence group
than in the control condition. This suggests that expressing divergent opinions or even dissent is
not necessarily associated with enhanced tension (see also Wood et al. 1994).
There is also evidence that dissent can be beneficial in educational contexts. When working on a
task, dissent with one or several others can promote quality of learning (Butera et al. 2011). This is
because dissent and exposure to disconfirming information and opposing arguments may stimulate
cognitive activity. This might be beneficial for learning because it forces people to critically reflect
on the validity of their views and because it enhances openness to other viewpoints.
However, dissent is not always beneficial. Darnon et al. (2007) found that only in contexts
where dissent is regulated in an epistemic manner (i.e., dissent and conflict relate to the learning
task) did conflict enhance learning outcomes. When conflict was introduced among learners that
related to their performance (i.e., the participant’s competence was questioned), self-threat was
enhanced and learning was reduced.
It is also important to keep in mind that dissent does not always lead to better performance
in groups. At times, the presence of dissenters in the group is associated with conflict, and this
undermines task focus and performance (Butera et al. 2011, De Dreu 2006). There is a fine balance
between dissent that can help a group to move forward and dissent that undermines harmony and
group functioning ( Jehn et al. 1999). For example, Dooley & Fryxell (1999) found that dissent was
associated with better decision making only when group members were committed to the group
and therefore wanted the group to do well.
The Value of Deviance
Although recent social psychological theorizing has made important contributions to understand-
ing the value of dissent (see previous section), it has very little to say on the value of deviance
within groups. In order to develop a better understanding of why and how group deviants can
be beneficial for the group, it is instructive to consider sociological work on deviance in groups
(Durkheim 1958, Erikson 1966; see also Ben-Yehuda 2010). At the origin of this theorizing lies
the work of Durkheim (1958), who argued for the normality and functionality of deviance.
Durkheim (1958) identified several ways in which groups benefit from having deviants in their
midst. First, deviants have an important role to play in affirming group values, clarifying norms,
and in helping group members to understand how they are different and distinct from other
groups (for a similar point in the organizational context, see Markova & Folger 2012). That is,
group members know what is the right thing to do by knowing what is normatively deviant and
unacceptable (to be “good” makes sense only in relation to being “bad”; Coser 1962, p. 174).
Interestingly, it is clear from this work that it is not only through rejection of the deviant that
norms and values become affirmed and strengthened. Indeed, deviance also serves this function
when the deviant is not excluded but rather is accepted by the group. That is, by tolerating a
deviant or dissenter, group members can show that they act in accordance with their beliefs and
values, and this strengthens the social fabric of the group (Coser 1962).
Second, deviance is functional and valuable for groups because it draws attention to alternative
forms of behavior and thereby allows for social change (Choi & Levine 2004, Ellemers & Jetten
2013, Hansen & Levine 2009, Prislin & Christensen 2005, Prislin & Filson 2009). For example,
Rosa Parks’s refusal to give up her bus seat to a white passenger was an important catalyst for the
civil rights movement, ultimately leading to the abolishment of segregation laws in the United
States. By drawing attention to different viewpoints, by exposing group norms through the process
of violating them, by challenging conventional wisdoms, and by creating conflict, tension and
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debate, deviants are able to move a group forward (see also Moscovici 1976). As Durkheim explains:
“It would never have been possible to establish the freedom of thought we now enjoy if the
regulations prohibiting it had not been violated before being solemnly abrogated” (1958, p. 67).
Given the positive contributions of dissenters and deviants to the group, it is not surprising
that groups are often remarkably tolerant of these individuals. Indeed, there are many examples
where group members treat dissenters and deviants with respect and encourage them to continue
to express their views because they contribute in these positive ways to the functioning of the
group (Ellemers & Jetten 2013). The importance of dissent is increasingly recognized among
management theorists (Amabile 1996), who have turned their attention to the microstrategies that
organizations can employ to encourage dissent and fearless expression. Mindful of the benefits of
dissent, some groups might create informal roles within their ranks that free people up to engage
in dissent. An example is the role of court jesters in the Middle Ages who, perhaps because of
their marginal and nonthreatening position, were the only ones who were licensed to openly raise
unpleasant truths in the presence of the king or queen. A modern equivalent is the role of the
devil’s advocate, whose purpose is to question the group’s functioning in order to understand the
organization’s weaknesses. In this section, we review research that has examined tolerance for
dissenters and deviants.
Tolerance for Dissent
Contrary to the assumed wisdom that dissenters face personal censure, there is a growing body of
work showing that groups can be surprisingly accepting of dissenters within their ranks (Esposo
et al. 2013, Hiew & Hornsey 2010, Hornsey et al. 2002, Rabinovich & Morton 2010), and at
times dissenters are even liked more than other group members (Van Dyne & Saavedra 1996). In
work on group-directed criticism, group members are presented with either an in-group member
or an outsider criticizing their group (e.g., Hornsey et al. 2002, Rabinovich & Morton 2010).
These studies consistently show that in-group members criticizing the group are downgraded less
strongly than outsiders who make exactly the same comments (the intergroup sensitivity effect).
A critical message also arouses less emotional sensitivity and is agreed with more strongly when it
is delivered by an in-group member. Importantly, the greater acceptance of the in-group message
over the out-group message does not emerge when people are presented with positive or neutral
statements about the group; the effect seems to be specific to criticisms. Furthermore, evaluations
of in-group critics are often comparable to evaluations of in-group members who make positive
or neutral comments about the group (Hornsey et al. 2002).
This relative tolerance toward internal critics appears to be rooted in the relatively generous
attributions that group members make about their motives. When in-group members criticize the
group, they are more likely to be seen to be doing so because they care for the group and want
to create constructive change. Darker motivations are assumed to drive criticisms by out-group
members—it is assumed they criticize because they intend to undermine, harm, and weaken the
group—and it is this attributional bias that mediates the intergroup sensitivity effect (Hornsey &
Imani 2004). The work on responses to in-group criticism makes clear that deviance and dissent
are not unwelcome by definition. The fact that group members are interested in what a dissenter
has to say, and that they consider at length why the dissenter would be saying it, goes against
traditional views that have portrayed groups as reflexively intolerant and dogmatic (for a similar
point, see Spears 2010). Deviance and Dissent 473
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However, even though there is some evidence that dissenters are tolerated and respected by
other group members, this does not necessarily mean that dissenters are always liked and admired
by others, even when they bring objective value to the group. Rink & Ellemers (2009) showed that
newcomers were more involved in the group task, contributed more unique information during a
decision-making task, and impacted more positively on group performance than did old-timers.
However, newcomers were also less accepted than old-timers, and their presence dampened group
identification levels for all group members. Sometimes the presence of a dissenter can lead to an
ironic discrepancy between subjective and objective reality: Nemeth & Ormiston (2007) found that
although observers report more innovation and better decision making in groups with dissenters,
group members themselves reported lower innovation, cohesion, and task satisfaction (see also
Rijnbout & McKimmie 2012a).
Tolerance for Deviance
Groups may also be remarkably tolerant of deviants. Sociologists have even suggested that a
group’s solidarity benefits from tolerating the deviant because it shows the strength of the group
to deal with a plurality of views and behaviors (Coser 1962, Erikson 1966). Rejection of the deviant
might actually harm solidarity because it demonstrates the group’s rigidity and inability to adapt.
Durkheim went as far as to argue that—to keep them vibrant—groups need deviants to such an
extent that groups would quickly want to find someone breaking the rules if there were not enough
deviant individuals in their midst. Durkheim (1958, pp. 68–69) states:
Imagine a society of saints, a perfect cloister of exemplary individuals. Crimes, properly so called, will
there be unknown; but faults which appear venial to the layman will create there the same scandal that
the ordinary defense does in ordinary consciousness. If, then, this society has the power to judge and
punish, it will define these acts as criminal and will treat them as such.
Durkheim’s reasoning makes clear that deviants and dissenters are an important part of group
life and that groups often accept and tolerate these individuals because they might be beneficial
for group functioning. Therefore, the emphasis in sociological work is quite different from the
focus in social psychological work: Sociology focuses on keeping deviance within bounds, whereas
social psychologists focus on how groups aim to eradicate deviance. This suggests that the two
disciplines start from two very different assumptions. Whereas sociologists perceive deviants as
part of a healthy group, social psychologists perceive deviants as separate from a healthy group.
In the latter view, healthy group life can exist only after the deviant has been removed ( Jetten &
Hornsey 2011).
In the review above it is clear that deviants and dissenters may at times be seen to contribute to
group functioning, and at other times their presence might be seen to be detrimental to the group.
In this section we review conditions and factors that moderate these responses.
Qualities of the Dissenter/Deviant
One factor that affects whether deviants are treated harshly is whether they have engaged in similar
deviant behavior in the past. Gollwitzer & Keller (2010) showed that when group members were
evaluating a member of their own group, repeat offenders received harsher punishment for their
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actions than did a first-time offender. Evaluations of out-group members were not affected by
whether they had engaged in similar rule breaking before. The authors suggest that ongoing
deviance is more of a threat to the group identity when confronted with an in-group member than
an out-group member, and this explains the harsher punishment of the former compared to the
latter. Other work has shown that negative responses to in-group deviants are affected by the extent
to which there is certainty about the guilt of the deviant. People reacted more negatively to in-group
than out-group suspects when guilt was certain, but they reacted more negatively to out-group than
in-group suspects when guilt was uncertain (van Prooijen 2006). The deviant’s actions also matter:
Intention to punish diminishes considerably when suspects express remorse (e.g., Carlsmith et al.
2002) and when they are willing to abandon their deviant position (Chan et al. 2010).
Unsurprisingly, the severity of the deviant’s actions and the objective harm that is caused to the
group affects responses to the deviant. Typically, modest violations of norms are derogated most
by high identifiers, who by definition are especially sensitive to the integrity of the group’s norms
(Castano et al. 2002, Hornsey & Jetten 2003). However, there is evidence that group identification
does not affect evaluations when the actions of the deviant are more harmful to the image of the
group. For example, high and low identifiers are equally harsh on in-group deviants involved in
serious violations such as academic fraud or abuse of Iraqi prisoners (Iyer et al. 2012).
There is also evidence that responses to deviants and dissenters depend on who they are and
what their position is in the group. For example, powerful group members are given the freedom
to behave in a more idiosyncratic way than nonpowerful members, and even subtle inductions of
power can have the effect of increasing minor violations of social norms (Galinsky et al. 2008).
Furthermore, dissenters and divergent thinkers within groups are tolerated more when they are
prototypical members of the group (Rijnbout & McKimmie 2012b). For leaders, however, the
norms are more nuanced. Whereas future leaders appear to be given license to innovate and to
question established norms, current and ex-leaders are expected to show more loyalty to the status
quo (Abrams et al. 2008a).
There is also evidence that group members are more willing to embrace criticism when the
critic has been a member of the group for a long time than when the same criticisms come from
a newcomer to the group (Hornsey et al. 2007b). This is consistent with the classic notion of
“idiosyncrasy credits”: People who have proven their loyalty to their group in the past have the
most permission to violate rules and to challenge the group culture (Hollander 1958). The central
role of loyalty attributions is evident also in the work on group criticism: In-group members
who criticize the group are tolerated only when their message is intended to be constructive and
when it is clear that they have the best interests of the group at heart (e.g., Hornsey et al. 2004).
Those expressing criticism can signal that their intentions are constructive by using inclusive
language emphasizing their commitment to the group (“we have a problem” rather than “they
have a problem”) or by otherwise emphasizing their “groupy” credentials (Hornsey et al. 2004)
or shared group membership (Wirtz & Doosje 2013).
Qualities of the Group
There is some evidence that the stage of group life affects how group members respond to deviance
and dissent. There are particularly strong pressures on members to conform in the initial phases
when the group has just formed (Agazarian & Gantt 2003, Worchel 1998). In these early stages,
groups often adopt a dress code or uniform and design other symbols that identify the group and
mark people as being members. Members may be asked to demonstrate their loyalty to the group,
and in this phase dissent or independent thinking is more likely to be viewed with suspicion (Rink
& Ellemers 2009, Van Dyne & Saavedra 1996). Deviance and Dissent 475
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At other times, the group may strive for greater diversity and heterogeneity. Because dissenters
and deviants provide such diversity, they are more accepted by other group members (Hutchison
et al. 2011). Broader cultural norms also matter; for example, conformity is greater in collectivist
cultures than in individualist cultures (Bond & Smith 1996), presumably because dissent is punished
more harshly in groups with collectivist values (Hornsey et al. 2006). It has also been found
that group goals affect whether group members attend to dissent. Toma and colleagues (2013)
showed that in groups with cooperative goals, initial dissent among group members led to a
greater willingness to be influenced by others than when the group held competitive goals. This
suggests that disagreeing in a cooperative context can help group members to overcome and
address differences of opinion.
A final factor that has been found to be important in moderating evaluations is whether the
deviant/dissenter is the only person in the group who does not conform or whether he/she has social
support from others. Classic work by Asch (1951) demonstrates that groups are more dismissive
of a sole dissenter than of a group of dissenters. Although a sole dissenter can be ridiculed and
pressured to get back in line, a group of dissenters and deviants might not be overlooked that
easily, making social influence and social change more likely (Haslam & Reicher 2012b).
Group Treatment of the Deviant or Dissenter
The punishment meted out to deviants or dissenters can have ironic effects on how they are
subsequently regarded. Eidelman and colleagues (2006) asked Christian participants to evaluate
a prolife Christian (a deviant target) either before or after having the opportunity to exclude the
target from the group. Evaluations of the target were more positive after exclusion from the group
than before. This suggests that the need to further derogate deviants is diminished after exclusion,
presumably because they can no longer threaten the group identity. Similar findings were obtained
in a paradigm where, over time, a deviant was either reintegrated or remained marginalized and
excluded (Chan et al. 2009). Group members who were more strongly committed to the group
were most negative toward an excluded deviant who was later reintegrated. In contrast, there was
evidence that group members were quite accepting of the deviant who faced continued exclusion.
Presumably, this is because actions of the deviant who was evicted from the group no longer
represented a threat to the group, with the consequence that group members could open their
minds to the deviant and his/her message. In a similar vein, Curseu et al. (2012) found that groups
that harbored a dissenter who subsequently left showed greater cognitive complexity than did
groups that still had the dissenter within their ranks.
There is some evidence that unless the group changes its position or officially reintegrates
the deviant, a rejected deviant will stay rejected even after being subsequently vindicated. Chan
and colleagues (2010) manipulated historical facts about Galileo, who was excommunicated and
rejected in the seventeenth century for his view—later verified—that the Earth revolves around
the Sun. Catholic participants’ negativity toward Galileo remained relatively high when they were
led to believe that the Church had refused to formally reinstate him. This emphasizes that it is
the stance of the group that determines how deviance is perceived and responded to as much as it
is the actions of the individual deviant.
Strategic Factors
Previously we made the case that just as there are pressures to show conformity and respect
for group norms, there are also countervailing motives to engage in deviance and dissent. Peo-
ple may not be prepared to take the risk of breaking group rules themselves but may be qui-
etly relieved when others do. But what happens when a group member expresses a deviant or
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group-threatening attitude that you privately agree with? If you actively support the dissenter,
you risk facing censure yourself. But if you fail to support the dissenter, you are violating your
principles and potentially missing an opportunity to steer the group in a better direction. Manag-
ing these competing pressures requires close attention to the possibilities afforded by the context.
Group members weigh up a number of strategic considerations: Who is watching? What can be
gained? What can be lost?
One well-established principle is that the willingness to confront deviance changes as a function
of the status of the audience. For example, in-group critics and other nonnormative members are
rated more negatively when evaluations are public than when participants evaluate them privately,
a tendency that gets more pronounced when the audience has high status (Hornsey et al. 2007a).
Group members tend to be especially strategic in their judgments when they are low identifiers and
so have not necessarily internalized the sanctity of the group’s norms. For example, low identifiers
and newcomers tend to express conformity and to confront rule violations in others only when
they are being monitored by a high-status audience ( Jetten et al. 2006, 2010). High identifiers
and old-timers, in contrast, tend to defend the group norms irrespective of audience.
It is not the case, however, that highly identified group members are never strategic when they
consider how to respond to deviance and dissent within their group. Packer (2013) found that
highly identified group members were quite sensitive to the intergroup context when expressing
dissent. Because highly identified group members are more concerned about the reputation of the
group than are low identifiers, they were less likely to “air the group’s dirty laundry” when doing
so would make the group vulnerable (either because they were communicating to an out-group
audience or because intergroup competition was particularly salient). Another recent paper also
provides a fascinating twist on the intuitive position that those who are least secure in the group
will be most likely to shy away from endorsing deviance and dissent in others. Across four studies,
Rios and colleagues (2012) showed that the people who are most likely to express minority
attitudes—and to endorse minority attitudes expressed by others—are those people who tradi-
tionally are associated with insecurity, vulnerability, and social defensiveness: those with high
self-uncertainty and those low in implicit self-esteem. The authors argue that minority opinions
can represent strivings for self-definition and defensive attempts to compensate for threats to the
Strategic factors also play a role in the evaluation of positive deviants. Positive deviance is
more likely to be embraced and celebrated if it helps enhance the reputation of the group; for
example, in an intergroup context (Schmitt et al. 2000) or when the positive deviant attributes
his/her success to the group (Fielding et al. 2006). Other work has shown that deviance and dissent
are tolerated when they fit with the broader goals of the group (Teixeira et al. 2011, 2013). For
example, Morton and colleagues (2007) found that partisans’ evaluations of an in-group political
candidate who expressed normative or deviant opinions depended on the implications of deviance
for achieving group goals. High identifiers expressed stronger intentions to vote for a normative
candidate over a deviant when public opinion was with the group. But when public opinion was
against the group (or when the deviant was attracting high public support), high identifiers gave
equal support to normative and deviant candidates. These findings suggest that backing the deviant
might be a strategic choice for high identifiers when the deviant has the potential to lift the group’s
standing in the eyes of relevant third parties.
In this review we revisited the assumption that deviance and dissent are necessarily counterproduc-
tive forces for the group and therefore are perceived as problematic and unwelcome. By focusing Deviance and Dissent 477
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on the myriad motivations of deviants and dissenters—and by focusing on the functional as well
as the dysfunctional effects of deviance and dissent—we hope to have provided a balanced and
complete view of these phenomena.
Unavoidably, by focusing on the functional as well as the dysfunctional impact of deviance and
dissent, the picture that emerges is more complex than traditionally assumed: Groups are at times
hostile toward deviants and dissenters, but at times they embrace them and are even protective
of them. However, to conclude that the picture is more complex than previously assumed will
not be satisfying or useful for researchers in the field who want guidance on how this review
can inform their research. Therefore, instead of highlighting the complexity of the messages that
emerge from recent work, it might be more useful to consider how the research focus needs to
be redirected and broadened to enable a greater appreciation of the value of deviance and dissent.
Three pointers in particular emerge from this review that might be useful to keep in mind when
embarking on further research in this field.
First, the research reviewed here points to the normality and ordinariness of deviance and
dissent—as acts that all group members engage in from time to time. The observation that dissent
and deviance are not extraordinary behaviors that only a small number of individuals engage in
for some unknown or sinister reasons demands a change in the way that we study group processes:
The behaviors of deviants and dissenters should be seen and studied as part of group life rather
than as separate and distinct from it ( Jetten & Hornsey 2011).
Second, as we have outlined, the study of deviance and dissent should be broadened to
encompass the diverse motivations that underpin them. Deviants and dissenters at times are
troublemakers: Their actions are harmful to the group, and it is understandable that groups
will respond negatively to them. At other times, however, dissenters and deviants are indis-
tinguishable from any other group member who has the group’s interests at heart. This is
because they often engage in such behaviors for constructive reasons: because they wish to
improve the group, campaign to change suboptimal group cultures, or simply avoid collective
mistakes. In fact, very often the dissenter or deviant and the most loyal group member are
the same person. By assuming that deviants and dissenters are acting against the group rather
than for the group, we risk ignoring a rich and important ingredient of group life (Packer
Third, groups do often recognize the value of deviance and dissent. Engaging with the functions
and dysfunctions of dissent and deviance teaches us that group life is more than pressures for
conformity and striving for sameness. By assuming that groups are mainly motivated to exclude
deviants and punish dissent, we fail to acknowledge that deviants and dissenters help keep groups
healthy and vibrant and are often appreciated as such.
More than 30 years ago Moscovici (1976) complained that the final goal of researchers
always appears to be “the reclamation of deviants.” In particular, he argues that researchers
in the field have focused on only one set of forces that drive group responses to deviance:
“making everybody alike, blurring the particularity and individuality of persons or subgroups”
(Moscovici 1976, p. 17; see also Levine 1989). Similar sentiments have been voiced more
recently, and it has been argued that an understanding of basic group processes is necessarily
impoverished if theorizing does not take account of the group members that conform to
group norms as well as those members that challenge them (Ellemers & Jetten 2013; Haslam
& Reicher 2012a; Jetten & Hornsey 2011, 2012; Packer 2008). It is only when we integrate
research on deviants and dissent with theorizing on group processes more generally that we
can develop a more complete, balanced, and refined understanding of deviants and dissenters in
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1. Within groups, deviance and dissent are common and are often recognized as beneficial
to group functioning.
2. Healthy groups have deviants and dissenters in their midst.
3. What is considered deviant and dissenting is contextually determined and may change
with time.
4. There are a number of reasons why group members engage in deviance and dissent within
groups. Among others, deviance and dissent may be motivated by (a) disengagement,
disloyalty, or disrespect for the group, (b) group loyalty, (c) moral reasons, (d)adesire
to express difference, individuality, and uniqueness, and (e) a wish to obtain the tangible
rewards that deviance and dissent provide.
5. Rejection of deviance and dissent helps to restore threatened group positivity, threatened
group cohesion, threatened group distinctiveness, threatened group locomotion, and
threatened self-image.
6. Deviants and dissenters can damage the group but can also contribute in positive ways to
group functioning. In particular, under some conditions, dissent increases the quality of
group decision making and enhances group creativity, innovation, and learning. Deviance
can sharpen the group’s understanding of its values and can facilitate social change.
7. Other group members often recognize the value of deviants and dissenters and are there-
fore often remarkably tolerant of these individuals.
1. Whereas classic research examined responses to deviants and dissenters in groups where
members interacted over a period of time [e.g., Schachter’s (1951) research on rejection,
deviance, and communication], recent work has examined responses to deviants and
dissenters using scenarios and contexts devoid of interaction. To understand fully the
trajectory of responses to deviants and dissenters, more research needs to be conducted
examining responses to deviants and dissenters over time in real interacting groups and
in different group contexts (e.g., different group goals or different group cultures).
2. We know little about the micro strategies for how group members manage dissent and
deviance in live, interactive groups. This would require a more descriptive communica-
tion approach to the question of deviance and dissent.
3. There are many different disciplines within the social sciences that examine deviance and
dissent. There is a need for a theoretical integration of work on dissent, minority influ-
ence, interpersonal deviance, interpersonal aggression, bullying, and criminal behavior.
The authors are not aware of any affiliations, memberships, funding, or financial holdings that
might be perceived as affecting the objectivity of this review. Deviance and Dissent 479
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We thank Alex Haslam, John Levine, and Dominic Packer for insightful comments on earlier
drafts of this article. This review was supported by a Discovery grant from the Australian Research
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Annual Review of
Volume 65, 2014
I Study What I Stink At: Lessons Learned from a Career in Psychology
Robert J. Sternberg pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp1
Stress and Neuroendocrinology
Oxytocin Pathways and the Evolution of Human Behavior
C. Sue Carter ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp17
Genetics of Behavior
Gene-Environment Interaction
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Cognitive Neuroscience
The Cognitive Neuroscience of Insight
John Kounios and Mark Beeman pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp71
Color Perception
Color Psychology: Effects of Perceiving Color on Psychological
Functioning in Humans
Andrew J. Elliot and Markus A. Maier ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp95
Human Infancy. . . and the Rest of the Lifespan
Marc H. Bornstein pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp121
Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood
Bullying in Schools: The Power of Bullies and the Plight of Victims
Jaana Juvonen and Sandra Graham pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp159
Is Adolescence a Sensitive Period for Sociocultural Processing?
Sarah-Jayne Blakemore and Kathryn L. Mills ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp187
Adulthood and Aging
Psychological Research on Retirement
Mo Wang and Junqi Shi ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp209
Development in the Family
Adoption: Biological and Social Processes Linked to Adaptation
Harold D. Grotevant and Jennifer M. McDermott pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp235
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Individual Treatment
Combination Psychotherapy and Antidepressant Medication Treatment
for Depression: For Whom, When, and How
W. Edward Craighead and Boadie W. Dunlop ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp267
Adult Clinical Neuropsychology
Sport and Nonsport Etiologies of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury:
Similarities and Differences
Amanda R. Rabinowitz, Xiaoqi Li, and Harvey S. Levin pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp301
Self and Identity
The Psychology of Change: Self-Affirmation and Social
Psychological Intervention
Geoffrey L. Cohen and David K. Sherman pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp333
Gender Similarities and Differences
Janet Shibley Hyde ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp373
Altruism and Aggression
Dehumanization and Infrahumanization
Nick Haslam and Steve Loughnan pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp399
The Sociocultural Appraisals, Values, and Emotions (SAVE) Framework
of Prosociality: Core Processes from Gene to Meme
Dacher Keltner, Aleksandr Kogan, Paul K. Piff, and Sarina R. Saturn pppppppppppppppp425
Small Groups
Deviance and Dissent in Groups
Jolanda Jetten and Matthew J. Hornsey pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp461
Social Neuroscience
Cultural Neuroscience: Biology of the Mind in Cultural Contexts
Heejung S. Kim and Joni Y. Sasaki ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp487
Genes and Personality
A Phenotypic Null Hypothesis for the Genetics of Personality
Eric Turkheimer, Erik Pettersson, and Erin E. Horn pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp515
Environmental Psychology
Environmental Psychology Matters
Robert Gifford ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp541
Contents vii
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Community Psychology
Socioecological Psychology
Shigehiro Oishi ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp581
Subcultures Within Countries
Social Class Culture Cycles: How Three Gateway Contexts Shape Selves
and Fuel Inequality
Nicole M. Stephens Hazel Rose Markus, and L. Taylor Phillips ppppppppppppppppppppppppp611
Organizational Climate/Culture
(Un)Ethical Behavior in Organizations
Linda Klebe Trevi˜no, Niki A. den Nieuwenboer, and Jennifer J. Kish-Gephart ppppppp635
Job/Work Design
Beyond Motivation: Job and Work Design for Development, Health,
Ambidexterity, and More
Sharon K. Parker ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp661
Selection and Placement
A Century of Selection
Ann Marie Ryan and Robert E. Ployhart pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp693
Personality and Coping Styles
Personality, Well-Being, and Health
Howard S. Friedman and Margaret L. Kern pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp719
Timely Topics
Properties of the Internal Clock: First- and Second-Order Principles of
Subjective Time
Melissa J. Allman, Sundeep Teki, Timothy D. Griffiths, and Warren H. Meck pppppppp743
Cumulative Index of Contributing Authors, Volumes 55–65 ppppppppppppppppppppppppppp773
Cumulative Index of Article Titles, Volumes 55–65 ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp778
An online log of corrections to Annual Review of Psychology articles may be found at
viii Contents
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... Debate refers to the open discussion of differences that group members exhibit respective to tasks and decisions (Simons et al., 1999). Group members challenge each other's viewpoints and discuss task-related differences, in other words, they manage existing dissent (Jetten & Hornsey, 2014). Debate is a form of direct participation that involves the disclosure of dissent and can lead to problem-solving (van Knippenberg et al., 2004). ...
... Open conflict norms describe the perception that conflicts can be discussed openly in the team and that it is desirable to share the own view, even if it is controversial as Robijn et al. (2020) show in their study. Open conflict norms encourage team members to express disagreement and foster a positive perspective on dissent (e.g., Jetten & Hornsey, 2014;Tjosvold et al., 2014). In contrast to open conflict norms, debate entails behavior instead of norms and describes a way to manage dissent (but not necessarily conflict), in an open and constructive way. ...
... Even though we expect a positive main effect from debate on group member well-being, debate may involve costs, such as investing considerable resources like time and effort as Bolino et al. (2010) indicate in their conceptual paper that critically assesses appeals for proactive behavior at work. A high level of collective decision-making can increase work load and intensify intragroup dissent (e.g., Carter, 2006;Jetten & Hornsey, 2014). Participation in debate may also increase the risk of depreciation by significant others, or publicly exhibiting flaws in one's reasoning (Gebert et al., 2006), and making oneself vulnerable (Bolino et al., 2010). ...
Full-text available
Research suggests that debate, that is, open discussion behavior in work groups, can affect group-level outcomes. Yet, little is known about how debate may affect group member well-being. Drawing from the literature on debate and open conflict norms, we hypothesize that debate and well-being are positively associated because differing views can be shared and discussed openly. Additionally, based on theories on status conflicts and diversity, we expect that this relationship is moderated by the divergence of status perceptions within the group. Specifically, we propose that the positive relationship between group-level debate and well-being is stronger when group members’ perceptions of the hierarchical social status distribution in their group diverge strongly (rather than little) because in this situation debate can help resolve differing status construals. Data for this study came from 163 members of 29 self-organized activist groups that pursued social and/or ecological goals. Group members reported the level of debate within their group, perceived status distribution, and their individual well-being. Results of multilevel modeling showed that debate and well-being were positively related and that divergence of status perceptions moderated this relationship. With our study, we expand research on debate by investigating its relationship with well-being. Our study adds to the literature on status dynamics by showing that not only the distribution of social status, but also the divergent perception of its distribution is an important feature of status dynamics. Finally, we advance the literature by applying constructs from work and organizational psychology to activist well-being.
... In psychology and sociology fields, studies have found that evaluation of people who deviate from social norms reflects in-group favoritism, in that people are inclined to respond more leniently to deviant behavior by members of their in-group than of out-groups (Forbes & Stellar, 2021). Those with this type of leniency report higher own deviant behavioral intention than those without it (Bernhard, Fischbacher, & Fehr, 2006;Jetten & Hornsey, 2014). While there is evidence that deviant behavior has a contagion effect in tourism settings, few studies examine the mechanisms by which people choose to tolerate or punish and the mediating mechanisms also have been largely ignored (Aguiar, Campos, Pinto, & Marques, 2017;Su, Cheng, et al., 2022). ...
... A stream of studies have confirmed that people tolerate deviance of and have less desire to punish members of their in-groups compared to deviance of members of out-groups (Aguiar et al., 2017;Bernhard et al., 2006;Goldring & Heiphetz, 2020;McAuliffe & Dunham, 2016). And tolerance for deviance would lead to deviant behavioral intention (Bernhard et al., 2006;Jetten & Hornsey, 2014), while the desire to punish deviance correlates with lower deviant behavioral intention (Bhati & Pearce, 2016;Li & Chen, 2022). Deviant behavior, both within the in-group and in the out-group, nonetheless has a social contagion effect, but existing research does not reveal how this mechanism operates (Plé & Demangeot, 2020). ...
... Second, based on the focus theory of norms, we verified the phenomenon of the black sheep effect among local residents. While the black sheep effect would tend to reduce residents' deviant behavioral intention, it might threaten group cohesion and quality of life among residents (Jetten & Hornsey, 2014;Su & Swanson, 2020;Yolal, Gursoy, Uysal, Kim, & Karacaoglu, 2016). We suggest future studies to assess other possible outcomes of black sheep effect (e.g., resident's group cohesion, quality of life). ...
Full-text available
Drawing on social identity theory and focus theory of norms, this study investigated differences in how destination residents respond to deviant behaviors by other residents-members of their in-group-and similar behavior by tourists, who they see as the out-group. We proposed and tested a conceptual model of the transition between in-group favoritism and the black sheep effect under the moderating effect of norm strength. A mixed-method approach, including a secondary data study and three scenario-based experiments, was applied. Findings of this study revealed that focal residents showed in-group favoritism for other residents' deviant behavior compared with tourists. The contagion effect of deviant behavior was stronger among in-groups than out-groups. However, with respect to behaviors about which norms are tight, the black sheep effect comes into play, as focal residents hold a higher desire to punish in-groups' deviant behavior than the out-group. This study has theoretical and practical implications for destination marketing organizations.
... Deviance can be defined as a departure from a group's norms or values, resulting in behavior or opinion that is deemed atypical or unusual (Jetten and Hornsey, 2014). Deviants may challenge the group's viewpoints because they perceive them as immoral or wrong, and voice a deviant viewpoint in an aim to motivate their group to adopt better, or more moral, practices (Moscovici, 1976;Hornsey, 2006;Packer, 2008). ...
... Deviants may challenge the group's viewpoints because they perceive them as immoral or wrong, and voice a deviant viewpoint in an aim to motivate their group to adopt better, or more moral, practices (Moscovici, 1976;Hornsey, 2006;Packer, 2008). By challenging a group's current practices, a deviant poses a threat to the cohesion and identity of a group (Marques and Paez, 1994;Jetten and Hornsey, 2014). ...
Full-text available
Deviants are pivotal to sparking social change but their influence is often hindered by group dynamics that serve to maintain the status quo. This paper examines the influence of a group's value in diversity in deviant's ability to spark social change, with a unique focus on the experience and anticipation of group dynamics that enable minority influence. Hypotheses were tested in three studies (NTotal = 674), which varied in their use of ad-hoc conversation groups or existing friend groups, and whether deviants were newcomers, or existing group members. We demonstrated social influence of a vegan deviant increased to the extent that participants perceived their group to value diversity. Furthermore, group value in diversity related to experienced and anticipated group dynamics that enabled minority influence: decreased conformity pressure, increased attentive listening, and, importantly, an increased search for agreement with the deviant. We discuss the importance of studying group dynamics for understanding what valuing diversity entails.
... Emotional cues can indicate whether individuals are accepted by others in a group. As people have a need to belong, they try to converge affectively with others to integrate with them and avoid detachment (Baumeister & Leary, 1995;Jetten & Hornsey, 2014). If individuals converge their emotions to a group, they will most likely experience group membership and psychological comfort. ...
Full-text available
Despite the social nature of emotions, research to date has focused on emotion regulation at the intrapersonal level. Thus, the efficacy of specific emotion regulation strategies within a social dynamic is unclear. This study investigated the relationship between affective convergence and the efficacy of two emotion regulation strategies: reappraisal and suppression. In Study 1, 37 university students in Korea participated in a 2 × 2 laboratory experiment that manipulated emotion regulation strategies and affective convergence (divergence) through a live social interaction with a confederate. The reduction in negative affect was measured to indicate the efficacy of emotion regulation strategies. In Study 2, 248 North American participants completed a 2 × 2 online experiment that included the manipulation of emotion regulation strategies and affective convergence (divergence). To assess each strategy’s efficacy, we measured participants’ reduction in negative affect and their working memory performance through Stroop task scores. The findings showed that reappraisal was more efficient than suppression when participants received a companion’s feedback that was affectively divergent from their own. However, reappraisal was less efficient than suppression in reducing negative affect when participants received a companion’s feedback that was affectively convergent with their own. In addition, using reappraisal resulted in better working memory performance in the affective divergence condition but not the affective convergence condition. The findings suggest that the efficacy of emotion regulation strategies depends on interpersonal-level affective constructs, namely, affective convergence (divergence). Future research should revisit the efficacy of emotion regulation strategies under a social dynamic.
... More pressingly, if someone's larger social group, including most people sharing their political affiliation, believes climate change is a hoax and scientists are distorting evidence, it is hard for them to accept the evidence for climate change. Or, even if they do accept it, they may not act on their knowledge for fear of social rejection (e.g., Jetten & Hornsey, 2014). Thus, the nature, acquisition, and use of conceptualizations must be considered in the context of other interacting variables to understand where pro-or anti-environmental attitudes and actions come from. ...
Full-text available
Threats to the health of our environment are numerous. Much research in science and engineering is devoted to documenting, understanding, and attempting to mitigate the harm itself. The root challenge for sustainability, however, is human behavior. As such, changes to human behaviors and the internal processes that drive them are also essential. Critical to understanding sustainability-related behaviors is the individual's conceptualization of the natural world and its components and processes. The papers in this topiCS issue address these conceptualizations by drawing from anthropological, linguistic, educational, philosophical, and social cognitive perspectives as well as traditional psychological approaches to the study of concepts and their development in children. They engage with many domains bearing on environmental sustainability including climate change, biodiversity, land and water conservation, resource use, and design of the built environment. They coalesce around four broad themes: (a) What people know (or believe) about nature broadly and about specific aspects of nature, and how they acquire and use this knowledge; (b) how knowledge is expressed and shared via language; (c) how knowledge and beliefs interact with affective, social, and motivational influences to yield attitudes and behaviors; and (d) how members of different cultures and speakers of different languages differ in these ways. The papers also point to lessons for advancing sustainability via public policy and public messaging, education, conservation and nature management, and design of the built environment.
... Self-uniqueness may lead people to think and act in non-conforming ways, especially if they attribute the normative consensus to obedience (Imhoff & Erb, 2009;Jetten & Hornsey, 2014). However, the desire to differentiate oneself from the majority does not imply a renunciation of group membership. ...
Full-text available
This research paper investigates the role of power dynamics and social status in shaping in-group and out-group behaviour in Indian Multinational Corporations (MNCs) and examines their impact on perceived individual performance outcomes. Using a qualitative and quantitative research approach, data is collected from employees in Indian MNCs and analysed through thematic and quantitative analysis to identify power dynamics and social status and explore their influence on in-group and out-group behaviour. The study assesses the impact of such behaviour on perceived individual performance outcomes, considering prior research highlighting its negative effects on employee engagement, job satisfaction, and overall organizational performance. The findings can help managers develop effective diversity management strategies, promoting an inclusive work environment and improving individual performance outcomes. The paper concludes by emphasizing the study's significance and potential contributions to theory and practice. By exploring the role of power dynamics and social status in shaping in-group and out-group behaviour and its impact on individual performance outcomes, this research offers valuable insights into the complexities of managing a diverse workforce in Indian MNCs
We review social psychological theories (e.g., attribution theory, in-group bias, structural attributions, and cultural betrayal trauma theory) to describe how people may make sense of discrimination experiences. We also provide a brief review of existing research related to racist discrimination attributions, emotional responses to racist discrimination, and psychosocial and stress-related responses to racist discrimination. We then highlight the gaps in research related to horizontal racist discrimination experiences and attributions. Finally, we introduce a qualitative study, informed by these theories, that explored how people of color interpret and react to horizontal vs. vertical racial/ethnic discrimination.KeywordsAttribution errorsDispositional attributionSituational attributionBlack sheep effectCultural betrayal trauma theory
Full-text available
The purpose of this research was to develop broad, theoretically derived measure(s) of deviant behavior in the workplace. Two scales were developed: a 12-item scale of organizational deviance (deviant behaviors directly harmful to the organization) and a 7-item scale of interpersonal deviance (deviant behaviors directly harmful to other individuals within the organization). These scales were found to have internal reliabilities of .81 and .78, respectively. Confirmatory factor analysis verified that a 2-factor structure had acceptable fit. Preliminary evidence of construct validity is also provided. The implications of this instrument for future empirical research on workplace deviance are discussed.
Full-text available
The present paper articulates a model in which ingroup and outgroup norms inform ‘rational’ decision-making (cost-benefit analysis) for conflict behaviors. Norms influence perceptions of the consequences of the behavior, and individuals may thus strategically conform to or violate norms in order to acquire benefits and avoid costs. Two studies demonstrate these processes in the context of conflict in Québec. In the first study, Anglophones’ perceptions of Francophone and Anglophone norms for pro-English behaviors predicted evaluations of the benefits and costs of the behaviors, and these cost-benefit evaluations in turn mediated the norm-intention links for both group norms. In the second study, a manipulated focus on supportive versus hostile ingroup and outgroup norms also predicted cost-benefit evaluations, which mediated the norm-intention relationships. The studies support a model of strategic conflict choices in which group norms inform, rather than suppress, rational expectancy-value processes. Implications for theories of decision-making and normative influence are discussed.
With contributions from leading scholars in the field, Rebels in Groups brings together the latest research which, contrary to traditional views, considers dissent, deviance, difference and defiance to be a normal and healthy aspect of group life. Brings together the latest research on the role of dissent, deviance, difference and defiance within groups Presents a new approach which considers dissent, deviance, difference and defiance to be a normal and healthy aspect of group life Examines a broad range of groups, such as political groups, task groups, and teams in organizations Considers diverse fields of psychology, including social, organizational, and developmental psychology Contributors are among the leading scholars in their areas of psychology.
A group member voicing an opinion that differs from the modal group opinion may be considered a deviate and rejected by the group. We conducted a meta-analytic integration of 23 studies to examine the influence of proportionate group size on rejection of the deviate. The results suggest a strong tendency for rejection of the deviate to increase as the proportionate size of the deviate's subgroup decreases. These effects are moderated by the deviate's direction of movement (that is, whether the deviate consistently maintains one opinion, or changes opinions). Deviates consistently maintaining an opinion different from the modal group opinion were rejected more as the proportionate size of their subgroup decreased (r = -.23). In contrast, deviates changing opinion by sliding toward the modal group opinion were rejected less as the proportionate size of their subgroup decreased (r = .42).
The Dissenter's DilemmaA Social Identity SolutionThe Normative Conflict ModelEmpirical EvidenceFinal ThoughtsPostscriptReferences
A theoretical framework is outlined in which the key construct is the need for(nonspecific) cognitive closure. The need for closure is a desire for definite knowledge on some issue. It represents a dimension of stable individual differences as well as a situationally evocable state. The need for closure has widely ramifying consequences for social-cognitive phenomena at the intrapersonal, interpersonal, and group levels of analysis. Those consequences derive from 2 general tendencies, those of urgency and permanence. The urgency tendency represents an individual's inclination to attain closure as soon as possible, and the permanence tendency represents an individual's inclination to maintain it for as long as possible. Empirical evidence for present theory attests to diverse need for closure effects on fundamental social psychological phenomena, including impression formation, stereotyping, attribution, persuasion, group decision making, and language use in intergroup contexts.