External threat and the definition of deviance

Pat Lauderdale, Phil Smith-Cunnien, Jerry Parker, James Inverarity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Studied how task-oriented groups of 5 members each responded to threats. 240 17-30 yr old males joined task groups to evaluate the case histories of juvenile delinquents and make correctional treatment recommendations to criminal justice authorities during a 55-min discussion period conducted by an observer. One member of the team was a confederate. During the 1st 30 min of group interaction, groups experienced a mild-threat condition (a criminal justice authority indicated he had to leave to observe another group and said that the group should probably not continue), a strong-threat condition (the authority said that the group should not continue), or no threat (the authority simply left the meeting). Discussion was allowed to continue, and at the end of the meeting Ss were asked if they would like to remain members of the group; each S was extensively interviewed after the meeting. Results show that level of threat was directly related to the extent of rejection and negative definition; noncomformity to the central task norm was not systematically related to deviant status; high-status actors were more involved in the rejection of the deviant; sociometric rejection of the deviant was accompanied by negative definition in the strong-threat condition; and the level of group solidarity was related to the extent of rejection and negative definition. (37 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1058-1068
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1984


  • definition of deviant &
  • group solidarity, 17-30 yr old males
  • high-status actors in group, status &
  • level of threat &
  • nonconformity to central task norm &
  • rejection &

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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