Tag Archives | Signaling

Faking It Is Hard to Do: Entrepreneurial Norm Enforcement and Suspicions of Deviance

Minjae Kim, Ezra W. Zuckerman Sivan

Sociological Science, October 25, 2017
DOI 10.15195/v4.a24

Recent research suggests that many norms may be upheld by closet deviants who engage in enforcement so as to hide their deviance. But various empirical accounts indicate that audiences are often quite sensitive to this ulterior motive. Our theory and experimental evidence identify when inferences of ulterior motive are drawn and clarify the implications of such inferences. Our main test pivots on two contextual factors: (1) the extent to which individuals might try to strategically feign commitment and (2) the contrast between “mandated” enforcement, where individuals are asked for their opinions of deviance, and “entrepreneurial” enforcement, where enforcement requires initiative to interrupt the flow of social interaction. When the context is one where individuals might have a strategic motive and enforcement requires entrepreneurial initiative, suspicions are aroused because the enforcers could have remained silent and enjoyed plausible deniability that they had witnessed the deviance or recognized its significance. Given that the mandate for enforcement might be rare, a key implication is that norms might frequently be underenforced.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Minjae Kim: Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Email: minjae@mit.edu

Ezra W. Zuckerman Sivan: Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Email: ewzucker@mit.edu

Acknowledgements: We thank Ari Adut, Hannah Birnbaum, Ronald Burt, Vanessa Conzon, Daniel DellaPosta, Roberto Fernandez, Jae-Kyung Ha, Oliver Hahl, Kate Kellogg, Minkyung Kim, Josh Krieger, Aruna Ranganathan, Dawn Robinson, and Robb Willer; audiences in the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association session on attitudes, norms, and behaviors; and the Economic Sociology Working Group and Behavioral Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management for their helpful comments and feedback. All the usual disclaimers apply.

  • Citation: Kim, Minjae, and Ezra W. Zuckerman Sivan. 2017. “Faking It Is Hard to Do: Entrepreneurial Norm Enforcement and Suspicions of Deviance” Sociological Science 4: 580-610.
  • Received: July 17, 2017
  • Accepted: September 13, 2017
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Mario Small
  • DOI: 10.15195/v4.a24
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Why is the Pack Persuasive? The Effect of Choice Status on Perceptions of Quality

Freda B. Lynn, Brent Simpson, Mark H. Walker, Colin Peterson

Sociological Science, April 8, 2016
DOI 10.15195/v3.a12

The logic of social proof and related arguments posits that decision makers interpret an actor’s sociometric position (such as popularity) as a signal for quality, especially when quality itself is difficult to ascertain. Although prior work shows that market-level behavioral patterns are consistent with this micro-level account, we seek to explicitly examine the extent to which (and the conditions under which) sociometric status information actually triggers assumptions about an actor’s underlying quality. We introduce two new web-based experiments to investigate how popularity impacts the selection of teammates. We find that the presence of popularity information creates a surprisingly robust quality halo around candidates in some situations but has no effect at all in others. Namely, consistent with Strang and Macy’s (2001) theory of adaptive emulation, choice status appears to affect quality perceptions as part of the rationalization for making attachments, but the halo disappears post-adoption. The implications of these results are discussed in the conclusion.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Freda B. Lynn: Department of Sociology, University of Iowa  Email: freda-lynn@uiowa.edu

Brent Simpson: Department of Sociology, University of South Carolina Email: BTS@mailbox.sc.edu

Mark H. Walker: Department of Sociology, Louisiana State University E-mail: mwalk67@lsu.edu

Colin Peterson: Department of Sociology, Stanford University E-mail: cpeterson@stanford.edu.

Acknowledgements: This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1058236. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. We wish to thank Sarah Harkness and Michael Sauder for their helpful comments on study 1. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the annual Group Processes conference in 2014.

  • Citation: Freda B. Lynn, Brent Simpson, Mark H. Walker, and Colin Peterson. 2016. “Why is the Pack Persuasive? The Effect of Choice Status on Perceptions of Quality.” Sociological Science 3: 239-263.
  • Received: July 16, 2015.
  • Accepted: July 23, 2015.
  • Editors: Gabriel Rossman
  • DOI: 10.15195/v3.a12
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