Resounding Silences: Subtle Norm Regulation in Everyday Interactions

Namkje Koudenburg*, Tom Postmes, Ernestine H. Gordijn

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    25 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    In this article we suggest a mechanism for norm regulation that does not rely on explicit information exchange or costly reinforcement, but rather on the sensitivity of group members to social cues in their environment. We examine whether brief conversational silences can (a) signal a threat to one's inclusionary status in the group and (b) motivate people to shift their attitudes to be in line with group norms. In two experimentsusing videotaped and actual conversations, respectivelywe manipulated the presence of a brief silence after group members expressed a certain attitude. As predicted, attitudes changed relative to the norm after such a brief silence. Those highly motivated to belong changed their attitude to become more normative, whereas those less motivated to belong shifted away from the group norm. The results suggest that social regulation may occur through very subtle means.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)224-241
    Number of pages18
    JournalSocial Psychology Quarterly
    Volume76
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Sep-2013

    Keywords

    • silence
    • norm regulation
    • conformity
    • motive to belong
    • group dynamics
    • SOCIAL EXCLUSION
    • SELF-ESTEEM
    • BELONG
    • NEED
    • COMMUNICATION
    • DIFFERENTIATION
    • CONVERSATION
    • IDENTITY
    • BEHAVIOR
    • STATES

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