Project funded in the BEETHOVEN scheme by the Polish National Science Centre (NCN) in the years 2015-2020 (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
Controlling our lives and the external environment is one of the basic human psychological needs. Numerous studies show that when we feel that we cannot control a given situation on our own, we are more motivated to act as a member of social groups, which increases our chance to achieve our goals and regain threatened sense of control. In addition, when we see that our efforts so far have not produced the expected results, we are more sensitive to cues on what behaviors are effective and expected in our environment. This kind of information is provided by social norms. Indeed, numerous studies show that when there is a threat to a sense of control, people are much more likely to be influenced by similar unwritten group rules. The aim of our scientific project was to better understand how the lack of control affects the perception of social norms, following them and the desire to change them.
According to the main assumption of the project, the lack of a sense of control makes us sensitive to normative information and we are more motivated to assess social norms in terms of how they will allow us to achieve our goals. To verify these hypotheses, we conducted series of studies, which can be divided into two main topics: the first, regarding vigilance to norms, and the second, regarding following group norms or the willingness to change them.
As part of the first of these areas, we conducted a series of experimental studies in which we manipulated the sense of control of the participants, and then measured the ability to recognize social norms, interest in norms and a tendency to follow them. Obtained results indicate that in situations of a threat to a sense of control, people do not show blind conformity to group rules, but depend more strongly on information about perceived effectiveness of their own group – only when it is assessed as effective in its actions, the lack of control increases this trend. An important effect of this research was also the development of an innovative measure testing the ability to detect group norms among other information. In subsequent study we found that threatening a sense of control can increase intentions to cooperate with outgroups, when such a solution increases the chance of achieving the intended goal. In sum, the research in this line proves that the threat of a sense of control does not make people search for and conform to any group rules, but rather encourages them to act strategically and demonstrate conformity to such norms that will allow them to regain a sense of control as a member of groups.
As part of the second research area, we examined under what conditions a lack of sense of control causes conformity to group norms, and in which – the desire to change them. We conducted the research in the context of political action. In a series of studies we have shown that the sense of lack of control in the socio-political area leads to an increased conformity to group norms – which in the case of norm of high voting turnout can paradoxically increase the desire to participate in elections. In another set of experiments we have shown that when given norms are ineffective, the threat of a sense of control may motivate people to change them. Studies conducted in Spain and France have shown that in a crisis situation, when respondents saw the potential for social change, the threat of a sense of control was associated with a decrease in support for the “old system” parties.
To sum up, in a series of correlational and experimental studies, we were able to reveal the new mechanisms behind interest in group norms, conformity to them, as well as the desire to change them. These results inspired us to expand the initially proposed theoretical model, which will be tested in experimental studies designed for this purpose in the context of pro-environmental action. The results of our research have been presented at a number of international conferences and described in a series of scientific publications.
Fritsche, I., Moya, M., Bukowski, M., Jugert, P., de Lemus, S., Decker, O., Valor-Segura, I., & Navarro-Carrillo, G. (2017). The great recession and group-based control: Converting personal helplessness into social class ingroup trust and collective action. Journal of Social Issues, 73, 117-137. doi: 10.1111/josi.12207. Full text available here
Bukowski, M., Rodríguez-Bailón, R., de Lemus, S., Willis, G. B., Jiménez-Moya, G., Spears, R. (2018). Coping with power asymmetries: The dynamics of emotional reactions in (il)legitimate powerless groups. Polish Psychological Bulletin, 49(1), 11–22. doi 10.24425/119467.
Bukowski, M., de Lemus, S., Rodríguez-Bailón, R., Willis, G. B., & Alburquerque, A. (2019). When lack of control enhances closeness to others: The case of unemployment and economic threat. European Journal of Social Psychology, 49, 1144-1160. https://doi.org/10.1002/ejsp.2563
Bukowski, M., Sędek, G. i Potoczek, A. (2020). Poznawcze konsekwencje deprywacji kontroli. Rola niepewności i dynamiki doświadczeń braku kontroli. W M. Kofta, A Rędzio (red.), Poczucie kontroli i niepewność: konsekwencje dla rozumienia świata społecznego (s. 53-82). Warszawa: Liberi Libri.
Potoczek, A., Bukowski, M., Jaśko, K., Fritsche, I., Czepluch, F., Jugert, P., Kossowska, M. (under revision). Acting collectively against air pollution: When does control threat mobilize environmental activism?
Conference talks and posters
- Potoczek, A., Bukowski, M., Rodríguez-López, A., de Lemus, S., Jasko, K. (2019). „Rola norm grupowych i poczucie kontroli dla intencji wyborczych”. [The role of group norms and control feelings in voting intentions] XVI Zjazd Polskiego Stowarzyszenia Psychologii Społecznej [16th General Meeting of Polish Society for Social Psychology]. Poznań (Poland), 20 – 22.09.2019.
- Bukowski, M., Potoczek, A., Kofta, M. (2019). „Skąd się biorą różnorodne efekty poczucia braku kontroli na społeczne poznanie i działanie?”. [What drives different effects of control loss on social action and cognition?] XVI Zjazd Polskiego Stowarzyszenia Psychologii Społecznej [16th General Meeting of Polish Society for Social Psychology]. Poznań (Poland), 20 – 22.09.2019.
- Bukowski, M., Potoczek, A., Kofta, M. (2019). „What accounts for diverse effects of evoked lack of control on (social) cognition? A revisited framework of agents, means and ends of control”. 21st ESCON Transfer of Knowledge Conference. Bordeaux (France), 2 – 4.09.2019.
- Potoczek, A., Bukowski, M., Jaśko, K., & Jamróz, K., „The role of perceived ingroup efficacy in the control threat effects on norm interest and conformity”, Social identity and intergroup relations. Poster presented at 100th Birthday Anniversary of Henri Tajfel. Warsaw (Poland), 23.06.2019.
- Potoczek, A., Bukowski, M., Jaśko, K., & Jamróz, K., „Not just blind Followers? Influence of Threat to Personal Control on Norm Interest, Detection and Following”, Poster presented at International Convention of Psychological Science (ICPS). Paris (France), 7-9.03.2019.
- Potoczek, A., Bukowski, M., Jaśko, K., Fritsche, I., Czepluch, F., & Kossowska, M., „To register a report or not to register? Some remarks on experience with writing a registered report in social psychology”, Winter Seminar on Social Cognition and Intergroup Relations. Poronin (Poland), 22-24.02.2019.
- Potoczek, A., Bukowski, M., Jaśko, K., & Jamróz, K., „Zainteresowanie normami grupowymi, ich detekcja i konformizm wobec norm – rola zagrożenia poczucia kontroli i postrzeganej sprawczości grupy własnej” [Interest in group norms, their detection and conformity to them – the role of threat to control and perceived ingroup efficacy]. XV Zjazd Polskiego Stowarzyszenia Psychologii Społecznej [15th General Meeting of Polish Society for Social Psychology]. Lublin (Poland). 21 – 23.09.2018.
- Potoczek, A., Bukowski, M., Jaśko, K., & Jamróz, K., „Not just blind followers – how threat to personal control influences norm interest, detection and following. Social and cognitive underpinnings”, European Association for Social Psychology Meeting “Boundaries, Norms, and Conflicts: Understanding Intergroup Relations and Rising Intolerance Across Europe and Beyond”. Bratislava (Slovakia), 6-8.09.2018.
- Potoczek, A., Bukowski, M., Jaśko, K., & Jamróz, „Influence of threat to personal control on norm interest, detection and following. Social and cognitive underpinnings”, European Social Cognition Network (ESCON) Transfer of Knowledge Conference. Cologne (Germany), 2-5.09.2018.
- Jamróz, K. & Potoczek, A., “Influence of threat to personal control on following descriptive and injunctive norms”, Ogólnopolska konferencja “Od pomysłu do badania” [Polish scientific conference “From idea to the study”]. Wrocław (Poland), 9-10.07.2018.
- Potoczek, A., Bukowski, M., Jaśko, K. & Jamróz, K., “Influence of threat to personal control on norm interest, detection and following”, 14th Winter Seminar on Social Cognition and Intergroup Relations. Poronin (Poland), 02-04.03.2018.
- Potoczek, A., Bukowski, M., Jaśko, K. & Jamróz, K., „Not just blind followers – norm conformity, search for norms and ingroup perception in times of threat”, 16th International Doctoral Seminar in Social Sciences. Telcz (Check Republic), 19-22.10.2017.
- Potoczek, A., Bukowski, M., Jaśko, K. & Jamróz, K., “The impact of threat to control on processing of normative information and in-group perception”, XIV Zjazd Polskiego Stowarzyszenia Psychologii Społecznej [14th General Meeting of Polish Society for Social Psychology]. Toruń (Poland), 15-17.09.2017.
- Bukowski, M., de Lemus Martin, S., Jasko, K., Rodriguez Lopez, A., Potoczek, A. and Paleczna. “Norm detection and change as coping strategies with personal control threat”, European Association for Social Psychology General Meeting. Granada (Spain), 5-8.07.2017.
- Potoczek, A. & Bukowski, M., “How lack of control influences norm perception”, 13th Winter Seminar on Social Cognition and Intergroup Relations, Szczyrk (Poland), 27-29.01.2017.