The present research addresses the paradox that thwarted goals can increase both individuals’ endorsement of violence and endorsement of pro-sociality. Across five studies, we show that thwarted goals motivate conformity to norms that may advocate either. Studies 1-3 establish that thwarted goals increase attraction to violence among U.S. adults of a lower educational background and/or men who endorse a masculine honor culture. Study 4 manipulates the perceived ingroup norm demonstrating that in college educated Americans, thwarted goals increase sensitivity to whichever norm is salient: pro-war or anti-war. Finally, to generalize our model beyond a focus on violent means, Study 5 demonstrates that goal-thwarted Europeans report increased willingness to volunteer for refugee support activities, but only if they perceived strong ingroup norms to volunteer. Altogether, the present research supports a frustration-affirmation mechanism, whereby thwarted goals increase sensitivity to group norms for behavior, whatever these may be.