Responses to within-group criticism: does past adherence to group norms matter?



Two studies tested the hypothesis that responses to within-group criticism are influenced by perceptions of a critic's prior adherence to ingroup norms. Participants responded to criticism which originated from ingroup members who either had previously adhered to or deviated from a group norm. Across both studies, criticising the ingroup yielded more negative group evaluations for antinormative members than it did for normative members. Participants also reported highest levels of sensitivity overall to communication (whether critical or praising of the ingroup) which came from antinormative members. Mediational analyses (Study 2) indicated that these effects were driven by perceptions of whether the communication violated a group expectation, and also perceptions of the critic's identification with the group. Study 1 also provided evidence that reactions to criticism are made in response to social identity concerns: the effects of prior norm adherence were observed only in participants who were highly identified with the ingroup. The research integrates previous work on group deviance and responses to criticism by elaborating the conditions under which criticism originating from within a group is most and least likely to be tolerated by its members. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.