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Abstract

We conducted two studies to investigate the influence of group norms endorsing individualism and collectivism on the evaluations of group members who display individualist or collectivist behaviour. It was reasoned that, overall, collectivist behaviour benefits the group and would be evaluated more positively than would individualist behaviour. However, it was further predicted that this preference would be attenuated by the specific content of the group norm. Namely, when norms prescribed individualism, we expected that preferences for collectivist behaviour over individualist behaviour would be attenuated, as individualist behaviour would, paradoxically, represent normative behaviour. These predictions were supported across two studies in which we manipulated norms of individualism and collectivism in an organizational role-play. Furthermore, in Study 2, we found evidence for the role of group identification in moderating the effects of norms. The results are discussed with reference to social identity theory and cross-cultural work on individualism and collectivism. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.