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  REACTIONS TO NORM VIOLATIONS 1 The Relationship between Authoritarianism, Group Membership and Reactions to Norm Violations Sample Student Mercer University  REACTIONS TO NORM VIOLATIONS 2 Abstract Social norms are rules of behavior that society uses to assess the population. How  people respond to a violation of social norms depends on a number of different factors. This study looks at the difference between prescriptive and descriptive norm violations and how in-groups and out-groups react to them while looking to see if high and low authoritarians respond differently to these different types of norms. In the present study, 50 participants rated the perceived negativity of eight scenarios depicting an individual who was either part of the in-group or out-group who violated a specific norm. The results showed that  participants viewed prescriptive norm violations more negatively than descriptive norm violations. Additionally, participants desired to interact more with their in-groups than with the out-groups, even when the in-groups committed prescriptive norm violations. These results show that people do respond differently to immoral acts which affect the way they view the character of the norm violators. This also suggests that people are connecting on a deeper level and tend to want to associate themselves with people who share some of the same ideals as them.  REACTIONS TO NORM VIOLATIONS 3 The Relationship between Authoritarianism, Group Membership and Reactions to Norm Violations Social norms are important because they help govern our society. They develop naturally and provide a sense of normalcy pertaining to how a society should run. Social norms are generally specific to regions and allow individuals to judge whether or not a person is acting out of the norm. Norms can be categorized by two types; descriptive norms and  prescriptive norms. Forsyth (1999) explained that descriptive norms are what most people do, feel, and think in a situation. People who violate these norms are usually viewed as unusual. An example of a violation of this norm would be someone who dresses differently from the norm, someone who has tattoos covering every inch of their body, or someone who covers their car completely in bumper stickers. According to Forsyth (1999), a prescriptive norm involves certain behaviors that people should perform. When people violate these norms, they are considered “bad,” and are frowned upon by other people in society . For example, kicking  puppies, drinking and driving, slapping one‟s girlfriend, and shoplifting are seen as “bad” and are therefore classified as prescriptive norm violations. Certain norms a person does or does not follow, can often affect what type of group they identify with. If a person is a member of a group, they view themselves as the in-group. If a person is not a member of a group, they see that crowd as the out-group. For example, if an individual‟s favorite baseball team is the Atlanta Braves, they would consider everyone else who supports the Braves as part of the in-group. On the other hand, they would also consider those people who support the New York Yankees as part of the out-group simply  because they support a team other than the Braves. Concerning in-group and out-group status, Kessler and Cohrs (2008) concluded that if people identify with a social group, they perceive  REACTIONS TO NORM VIOLATIONS 4 everything affecting this group, the in-group, as important. On the other hand, on a general level, an example of an out-group would be a group that one does not identify with. In many ways, prescriptive norm violations are more serious than descriptive norm violations. Accordingly, group members judge those norms differently. Marques, Abrams, and Serodio (2001) showed that group members are especially sensitive to deviance from generic  prescriptive norms when the in- groups‟  claim to be embracing those norms is undermined. In view of that, Kreindler (2005) illustrated that we choose groups that accord with our values and leave groups that we do not fit into. When groups are based on the same values, they hold similar moral ideals. When group members violate prescriptive norms, they are defying those values and those members no longer wish to be associated with that group. Kreindler (2005) looked at group processes and individual tendencies, which focused on both authoritarianism and on social dominance as a product of group dynamics. Kreindler (2005) also showed how individuals are judged within the group. A member who violates an important norm provokes normative differentiation; other members judge him severely and seek to distance him from the group. Although norm violations are often reprimanded, there are a few exceptions. Kreindler (2005) showed that fondness for one‟s in -group and conformity to its norms do not in themselves imply hostility toward nonconforming fellow members. Holders of non-normative opinions are sometimes shown leniency by virtue of their shared group membership. Under some conditions, groups cherish their more extreme members. Someone who holds a non-normative opinion would fall under the less serious category of a descriptive norm where they would often be judged less harshly and sometimes even be appreciated.  Not all group members identify strongly with their group. Kreindler (2005) demonstrated that low identifiers responded to negative in-group members by further

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