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Reaction to Deviates and Conformers: The Effect of Regulatory Fit

Swanenburg, Kristina L. (2016) Reaction to Deviates and Conformers: The Effect of Regulatory Fit. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Adherence to group norms is an important determinant of how members judge one another, with conformers typically being evaluated more positively than deviates (Levine & Kerr, 2007). This study tested predictions about reaction to conformers and deviates derived from Regulatory Fit Theory (Higgins, 2102), which takes account of people’s regulatory focus (promotion vs. prevention) and their manner of goal pursuit (eager vs. vigilant). According to the theory, because fit sustains an individual’s regulatory focus, it produces greater task engagement and intensification of affective responses to salient stimuli. The present study used a 2 (regulatory focus: promotion or prevention) x 2 (target status: deviate or conformer) x 2 (target advocacy style: eager or vigilant) between-participants design. After being induced to have either a promotion or prevention regulatory focus, male and female undergraduates in three-person groups reached consensus on a proposed senior thesis requirement, with most groups opposing the requirement (25 groups/condition). Participants then watched an ostensible student argue either for (deviate) or against (conformer) the requirement using either an eager or a vigilant advocacy style. Afterwards, participants discussed and evaluated the speaker and his message. For exploratory purposes, participants’ opinion change and the content and valence of their comments during the discussion were also assessed. Major predictions were that (a) regulatory fit would produce more task engagement (longer group discussions) than nonfit; (b) conformers would be evaluated more positively than deviates; (c) fit would intensify positive evaluations of
conformers and negative evaluations of deviates; and (d) task engagement would mediate the impact of fit on reaction to both targets. Only the hypothesis that conformers would be evaluated more positively than deviates was confirmed. Additional analyses found that participants were more engaged when discussing deviates than conformers. There was also some evidence of minority influence by deviates. Finally, analyses of group discussions indicated that target status influenced both the content and valence of participants’ comments, and content and valence scores were related to the evaluation of the target. These results were interpreted, and directions for future research were suggested.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Swanenburg, Kristina L.kswanenburg@gmail.comKLS94
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairLevine, John M.jml@pitt.eduJML
Committee MemberSayette, Michael Asayette@pitt.eduSAYETTE
Committee MemberOrehek, Edwardorehek@pitt.eduOREHEK
Committee MemberHurwitz,
Date: 15 June 2016
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 22 February 2016
Approval Date: 15 June 2016
Submission Date: 25 March 2016
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 114
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: deviance, regulatory fit
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2016 20:51
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:32


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