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IACM 2023

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The Norm of Deference

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 of others’ reactions on one’s own deference decision. We extend these accounts by examining how and why an individual’s deference to a dominant actor is affected by a norm of deference indicated by others’ behavior. We propose that a norm of deference both affect the known pathways that predict deference to dominant actors (i.e., fear, competence assessments) via informational influence and also activate a set of normative influence considerations (i.e., desire for approval from the other deferrers). Collectively, our results highlight the important role norms of deference play in moderating the success of dominant actors.

Jennifer Dannals
Yale School of Management
United States

Emily Reit
United States

Deborah Gruenfeld
Stanford Graduate School of Business
United States


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