Norm violations engender both negative reactions and perceptions of power from observers. We addressed this paradox by examining whether observers' tendency to grant power to norm followers versus norm violators is moderated by the observer's position in the hierarchy. Because norm violations threaten the status quo, we hypothesized that individuals higher in a hierarchy (high verticality) would be less likely to grant power to norm violators compared to individuals lower in the hierarchy (low verticality). In 14 studies (Ntotal = 1,704), we measured participants' trait verticality (sense of power, socioeconomic status, testosterone) and manipulated state verticality (power position, status, dominance). A meta-analysis revealed that higher ranked participants granted less power to norm violators than lower ranked individuals, presumably because the former support social stratification. Interestingly, these effects occurred for trait but not state verticality. Overall, negative reactions to deviants may be driven by hierarchy-maintenance motives by those in privileged positions.

E. Stamkou, G. van Kleef, A.C. Homan, and Adam Galinsky
Journal Article
Publication Date
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations

Full Citation

Stamkou, E., G. van Kleef, A.C. Homan, and Adam Galinsky
. “How norm violations shape social hierarchies: Those who stand on top block norm violators from rising up.”
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations
, (January 01, 2016):