Date of this Version
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
People often diverge from members of other social groups: They select cultural tastes (e.g., possessions, attitudes, or behaviors) that distinguish them from outsiders and abandon tastes when outsiders adopt them. But while divergence is pervasive, most research on the propagation of culture is based on conformity. Consequently, it is less useful in explaining why people might abandon tastes when others adopt them. The 7 studies described in this article showed that people diverge to avoid signaling undesired identities. A field study, for example, found that undergraduates stopped wearing a particular wristband when members of the “geeky” academically focused dormitory next door started wearing them. Consistent with an identity-signaling perspective, the studies further showed that people often diverge from dissimilar outgroups to avoid the costs of misidentification. Implications for social influence, identity signaling, and the popularity and diffusion of culture are discussed.
© American Psychological Association, 2008. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-3518.104.22.1683
culture, diffusion, identity, social influence, intergroup processes
Berger, J. A., & Heath, C. (2008). Who Drives Divergence? Identity-Signaling, Outgroup Dissimilarity, and the Abandonment of Cultural Tastes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95 (3), 593-607. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-3522.214.171.1243
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Date Posted: 15 June 2018
This document has been peer reviewed.