Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Public Acts of Deviance: Determinants and Consequences
by Gomila, Robin, Ph.D., Princeton University, 2020, 141; 27964860
Abstract (Summary)

Social norms are powerful drivers of human behavior, so much so that people conform to norms even when they would prefer to deviate. Researchers have theorized that in these cases, people conform to avoid the costs of deviance. For one, a large body of work suggests that individuals endure psychological costs such as guilt, shame, self-deprecation, or decreased self-esteem for deviating from norms. For two, norm violators are often perceived and labeled negatively, marginalized, stigmatized, or punished by other people. Notwithstanding the possible psychological or social costs, people do decide to violate norms. In the present dissertation, I ask: Who are the deviants, and why? Once individuals have deviated from a norm, how does this experience shape them? These questions are important to address because deviants play critical roles in their communities. Specifically, public acts of deviance can signal disagreement with current practices, and catalyze group and broader social change. In this dissertation, I present evidence from qualitative and quantitative studies in the lab and the field suggesting that the experience of violating a norm increases individuals' inclination to deviance. The results also indicate a possible psychological mechanism explaining this effect: deviating causes people to depreciate their perception of the costs of deviance. After reviewing the relevant literature in Chapter 1, I present findings from in-depth interviews and two rounds of surveys of deviants and conformists (Chapter 2) suggesting that deviance is a pattern: compared to conformists, deviants report a history of deviance and of feeling different from the typical member of their groups. Chapters 3 and 4 focus on the question of how deviance becomes a pattern. Together, the results of online experiments using behavioral games (Chapter 3) and a field experiment in the Hasidic community (Chapter 4) challenge traditional views of deviance as personality or a stable individual trait that develops early in the life span. Instead, these findings suggest that patterns of deviance can emerge from an experience of deviance at any point in one's life.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Levy Paluck, Elizabeth
Commitee: Shafir, Eldar , Todorov, Alex, Prentice, Debbie, Griffiths, Tom
School: Princeton University
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- New Jersey
Source: DAI-B 82/1(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social psychology, Behavioral psychology
Keywords: Conformity, Deviance, Norm violation, Social change, Social norms
Publication Number: 27964860
ISBN: 9798662418189
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