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Why Dominance Incites Deference: A Social Norms Account
Behavioral displays of dominance are widely met with deference, but current social psychological accounts of responses to dominance are primarily built on dyadic interactions with a dominant actor—largely ignoring the impact others’ reactions have on one’s own deference decision. We extend these accounts by examining how an individual’s deference to a dominant actor is affected by a norm of deference indicated by other group members’ behavior. We propose that norms of deference both affect the known pathways that predict deference to dominant actors (i.e., fear of the dominant actor, perceived competence of the dominant actor) via informational influence, but also activate a separate set of normative influence considerations (i.e., desire for the group’s approval/belongingness needs). Four studies test these hypotheses. Collectively, results highlight the important role of social norms in moderating the success of dominant actors.