Project funded in the BEETHOVEN scheme by the Polish National Science Centre (NCN) in the years 2015-18 (2014/15/G/HS6/04529) awarded to:
PI (Poland): Marcin Bukowski, Ph.D.
PI (Germany): Philipp Jugert, Ph.D.
Co-PI (Poland): Katarzyna Jaśko, Ph.D.
Co-PI (Germany): Prof. Immo Fritsche
Little is known about why and when people are more likely to conform to social norms in times of threat. With this research, we want to examine the processes underlying norm-related behavior when people lack a general sense of personal control. In this project we focus on why threat to control leads to norm-related behavior and when this leads to norm conformity, norm formation, or attempts to change existing norms. We assume that under lack of control, people aim to restore a sense of agency by identifying with social groups and by acting as group members. We propose two psychological processes that should underlie norm-related behavior. First, we propose that under lack of control and when a relevant social identity is salient, their attention shifts to cues from their social environment that may signal what is normative. Second, we propose that perceived norms are judged as to whether they support group agency or not. We argue that these two processes help to distinguish between three kinds of norm-related behavior (conformity, formation, change) under lack of control. This research will not only help to understand why control threat leads to social conformity but also how social innovation can be enhanced in times of crisis. Additionally, the studies planned in this project could shed a light on the conditions in which social norms are changed, and how group solidarity and re-categorization processes might contribute to such change.