Social Expectancy And Self-Presentation In A Status Hierarchy

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Journal Of Experimental Social Psychology


A common link between expectancy and social conformity has often been assumed. On the other hand, expectations may sometimes serve to engender counter-conformity. The present study attempted to establish a set of conditions under which the avoidance of expectations will occur. Candidates in a naval training program participated in a study of group task performance. Half the subjects were informed that their partner was senior to them in status while the remaining subjects were told they outranked their partner. Half the subjects in each of these conditions were to work on a task where group productivity was emphasized; for the remaining subjects group solidarity was the primary goal. Subjects were then exposed to the personal expectations of their supposed partner. As predicted, high-status subjects in the productivity condition subsequently presented themselves in such a way as to avoid the expectations of their partner. In the remaining groups, conformity to expectations prevailed. The study further showed that when no expectations were present, lowstatus subjects in the productivity context presented themselves more positively; in the solidarity setting they become more self-demeaning. High-status subjects remained unaffected.

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