Group Influences on Self-Aggression: Conformity and Dissenter Effects
Evidence that intentional self-aggressive behaviors are influenced by social groups comes almost exclusively from nonexperimental retrospective studies which fail to address underlying causal processes. Recently, we conducted a study in which experimentally manipulated group norms were found to directly influence self-aggressive behavior (Sloan, Berman, Zeigler-Hill, Greer, & Mae, 2006). The present study was designed to gain a better understanding of the process by which social groups influence self-aggression. More specifically, we examined the effects of dissenters on the adoption of a self-aggressive group norm. Participants (N = 164) were assigned to one of the following conditions: a unanimous self-aggressive group, a nonunanimous group with a single dissenter in either the first or last position who did not engage in self-aggressive behavior, and a group with no systematic agreement concerning self-aggression. Self-aggression was operationally defined as the use of an extreme shock that was self-administered by the participant within the context of an attention task. Results demonstrated that the adoption of a self-aggressive group norm was significantly weakened by the presence of a dissenter. This effect was moderated by gender such that the presence of a dissenter had a greater impact on the self-aggressive behavior of women than it did for men. Clinical and theoretical implications of these findings are discussed.
Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology
Berman, M. E.,
Sloan, P. A.
(2009). Group Influences on Self-Aggression: Conformity and Dissenter Effects. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 28(5), 535-553.
Available at: http://aquila.usm.edu/fac_pubs/1222