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Reactions to non-normative behavior of other group members

Working groupSocial Processes Lab
FundingIWM budget resources
Project description

In many situations, groups play an important role: Members of a team work on projects collaboratively, students form learning groups, and members of online groups discuss issues that are important to them. Each of these groups has specific rules of conduct – group norms. But what happens if someone does not play by these rules? And why does it happen?


Norms describe how members of the group ought to behave and how they should not behave. If a member of a group does not adhere to these norms, that is, when the member shows deviant behavior, negative reactions regularly ensue. Some members leave the group on their own accord (leaving), or they make the deviant group member leave the group (exclusion). In either case, the group’s composition changes. These changes can adversely affect knowledge work within the group: With every person who – voluntarily or involuntarily – leaves the group, the group as a whole loses this person’s expertise; the structure and content of the knowledge available to the group changes.

In this project, we therefore investigate which processes underlie leaving and exclusion as responses to deviant behavior, using direct and computer-mediated groups. In this endeavor, we focus on whether the deviant behavior is experienced as threatening and the interplay of experienced threat and control. The findings obtained from these studies provide information on how group processes may be designed and, hence, are relevant for all situations in which individuals have to cooperate with a group.


Ditrich, L., & Sassenberg, K. (2023). Threat and reactions to violated expectations in groups: Adding control to the equation. European Review of Social Psychology, 35, 1-44. Open Access

Ditrich, L., Lüders, A., Jonas, E., & Sassenberg, K. (2022). You gotta fight! – Why norm-violations and outgroup criticism lead to confrontational reactions. Cognition and Emotion, 36(2), 254-272. [Data] Open Access

Ditrich, L., Lüders, A., Jonas, E., & Sassenberg, K. (2019). Leader's group-norm violations elicit intentions to leave the group – If the group-norm is not affirmed. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 84, 103798. [Data] request document

Ditrich, L., & Sassenberg, K. (2017). Kicking out the trolls – Antecedents of social exclusion intentions in Facebook groups. Computers in Human Behavior, 75, 32-41. request document

Ditrich, L., Scholl, A., & Sassenberg, K. (2017). Time to go! Leaving the group in response to norm-deviations. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 73, 259-267. [Data] request document


Dr. Lara Ditrich Dr. Lara Ditrich
Tel.: +49 7071 979-268