Threat(s) and conformity deconstructed: Perceived threat of infectious disease and its implications for conformist attitudes and behavior
Version of Record online: 20 NOV 2011
Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
European Journal of Social Psychology
Volume 42, Issue 2, pages 180–188, March 2012
How to Cite
Murray, D. R. and Schaller, M. (2012), Threat(s) and conformity deconstructed: Perceived threat of infectious disease and its implications for conformist attitudes and behavior. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol., 42: 180–188. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.863
- Issue online: 20 FEB 2012
- Version of Record online: 20 NOV 2011
- Manuscript Accepted: 5 OCT 2011
- Manuscript Received: 21 JUN 2011
- social cognition;
- defensive processes;
- illness cognition
Threat has been linked to conformity, but little is known about the specific effects of different kinds of threat. We test the hypothesis that perceived threat of infectious disease exerts a unique influence on conformist attitudes and behavior. Correlational and experimental results support the hypothesis. Individual differences in Perceived Vulnerability to Disease predict conformist attitudes; these effects persist when controlling for individual differences in the Belief in a Dangerous World. Experimentally manipulated salience of disease threat produced stronger conformist attitudes and behavior, compared with control conditions (including a condition in which disease-irrelevant threats were salient). Additional results suggest that these effects may be especially pronounced in specific domains of normative behavior that are especially pertinent to pathogen transmission. These results have implications for understanding the antecedents of conformity, the psychology of threat, and the social consequences of infectious disease. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.