Perception of norm clarity and punishment in affecting value-expressive behaviors
Date of Issue2019-07-29
School of Social Sciences
This research examines how impacts of norm perceptions on behaviors may depend on the driving forces of the behaviors. I propose two types of norm perceptions, norm clarity and punishment, as two features of tightness of norms. The former concerns whether individuals perceive there is clear expectation of behavior and the latter concerns individuals’ perceptions of how severe the social disapproval is for norm violation. Whereas individuals in tighter societies are expected to display norm adherence, little is known on how individuals’ perceptions of norm clarity and punishment might affect their decisions in norm adherence for value-expressive behaviors. Social-focused values concern how individuals relate socially to others. I expect engagement in behaviors expressing social-focused values to be predicted by perceived norm clarity and punishment because individuals would be concerned about the perceptions of social others. Personal-focused values concern individuals’ expression of personal preferences. I expect the effect of perceived clarity and punishment on engagement in behaviors expressing personalfocused values to be moderated by the extent to which norm adherence would fulfill the individual’s personal needs. Five studies were conducted to test the hypotheses. Studies 1 and 2 found that in Singaporean culture, perceived clarity and punishment predicted engagement in behaviors expressing social-focused values. However, for behaviors expressing personal-focused values, there was no effect of perceived punishment, and the predictive effect of perceived clarity was only apparent for individuals high in need for closure. Study 3 extended the findings to the cultural context of friendship group. Study 4 suggested that perceptions of the personal and social focus motivation were insufficient to drive the different influences of norm perceptions on personal-focused behaviors and social-focused behaviors. Study 5 manipulated the motivation of a norm to be either personally focused or socially focused and replicated the findings from Studies 1, 2 and 3. The research sheds lights on the motivational mechanism underline the impact of perceived norm clarity and punishment on value-expressive behaviors.