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Do Social Norms or Self-Interest Rule?

Comparing the power of social norms and targets of prejudice on symbolic prejudice in a group discussion.

William Cockrell

on 23 February 2015

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Transcript of Do Social Norms or Self-Interest Rule?

Do Social Norms or Self-Interest Rule?
Comparing the power of social norms and targets of prejudice in a group discussion
William Thomas Cockrell
The Times They Are a-Changin'
Early 2013 public opinion polls:
Gallup poll on marriage benefits
49% of Fox News respondents support legalized gay marriage
CNN and CBS report similar majority findings
Pew Research Center reports on rate of public change
Background Research
Prejudice (Blatant and Symbolic)
Social Norms
Confronting Prejudice
Self-Interest Rule
Blatant vs subtle prejudice
What is symbolic prejudice?
(Henry & Sears, 2009; McConahay & Hough, 1976)
What is sexual prejudice?
Social Norms
A large influence on the expression or suppression of prejudice
(Crandall, Eshleman, & O’Brien, 2002; Stangor, Sechrist, & Jost, 2001)
Tolerant norms ↓ Blatant expressions of prejudice
What Did You Say?
Confronting blatant prejudice is rare
(Clark & Maass, 1988; Walster, Aronson, & Abrahams, 1966)
It may matter WHO confronts
Targets of prejudice who confront are often viewed as less influential
(Czopp & Monteith, 2003, 2006)
Self-Interest Rule
Speaking with Self-Interest =
Something to gain; less influential
Speaking against Self-Interest =
Something to lose, nothing to gain; more influential
Current Study
People in a group discussion will experience higher rates of pro-gay rights attitude change than a person exposed to only one other person
The presence of a gay male in a discussion about gay rights will reduce pro-gay rights attitude change
The presence of a gay male will moderate the group’s influence, resulting in less pro-gay rights attitude change.
Part 1: Political Opinion Survey and given return date for Part 2
Part 2: Group Discussion, Public Vote, and Private Vote
Part One
Political Opinion Survey
6 policy items on gay rights
.86 Reliablity
e.g. “Same-sex marriage should be prohibited”
Participant responded on a 7-point Likert scale ranging from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (7).
Part Two
Social Support:
Group or
no group
Members of the group were asked for their initial opinion on the topic.
Sample Condition
Part Two
Target Status:
Target or
Statement:“As a gay person/Christian I support gay rights. I think they/we should have all the same rights as straight people.”
Sample Conditions
Dependent Variables
:Public Votes
:Private Votes
:Evaluations of Discussion
Public Votes
6 policy items on gay rights
Scoring: 1 for Pro vote with confederate(s), .5 for undecided, and 0 for Anti vote against confederate(s)
e.g. “There should be laws restricting homosexuals from adopting”
Final Public Vote score is a percentage of the Pro votes. For example, a person voting pro-gay rights every time would be scored 100%
Private Votes
Same 6 items as on screening survey
Discussion Evaluations
10 items on 7-point Likert scale
High scores represent more negative opinions about the discussion
Range of scores = 1 to 7
An ANOVA was used to examine the effects that the independent variables (Target Status and Social Norm Support) would have on the dependent variables of public and private votes
An ANOVA was used to determine if differences emerge between the discussion evaluations for different conditions
Public Voting and Social Support
A significant difference in public voting was found between participants in group support and no support
No social support : (M = .72, SD = .27)
Social Support: (M = .82, SD = .23)
Public Voting and Target Status
A significant difference in public voting and participant exposure to target status
Gay target: (M = .81, SD = .22)
Christian Target: (M = .72, SD = .28)
.82 reliability
Private Voting Scores
No significant differences for target status or social support manipulations
All participants became more pro-gay rights after the discussion
Negative reactions
A significant difference of negative reactions between target conditions.
Gay Target: (M = 3.26, SD = 1.08)
Christian Target: (M = 2.69, SD = .94)
A gay target present lead to more negative reactions of the discussion, F(1, 176) = 12.109, p = .001, η2 = .064
Negative reactions
A significant interaction of social support and target status for negative reactions
Alone with gay target evoked the most negative reactions toward discussion
Summary of Results
Group was more effective
only in public voting
Gay targets were more effective in public voting
Contradiction of hypothesis H2A
Gay targets influenced more negative opinions
Interaction of variables on negative evaluations did not influence voting behavior
A true manipulation of the self-interest rule?
Stronger control condition
Average age of sample
Future Research
Method of delivery independent variable
Empathy-Altruism independent variable
Self-Interest independent variable
Social norms are a powerful tool in attitude change
Targets of prejudice should speak up for their rights
All people, regardless of sexual orientation, can help reduce negative opinions by speaking against prejudice
N = 200
Age : (M = 19, SD = 1.13)
Religion: 97% Christian
Race: 77% White, 19% African-American
Gender: 52% male, 48% female
The presence of a gay male in a discussion will produce more negative evaluations of the discussants compared to when a Christian target is present
Design and Participants
N = 176
Difference score is computed into a raw score of 1-7.
Partial support of hypothesis 1
Support of hypothesis H2B
Full transcript