Organizational Conformity

Joseph Reagle


Language types

verbal non-verbal
auditory speech paralanguage (e.g., sigh, gasp)
non-auditory sign language, IM

direct nonverbal

  • appearance
  • kinesics (gestures and expressions)
  • oculesics (eyes)
  • haptics (touch)
  • proxemics (closeness)

Body language


Who is

the better teacher?

the better consultant?

Zuckerberg’s hoodie

Zuckerberg has learned much, I suspect, from Jobs. He knows the impression he makes is important, so, like Jobs, he acts like he doesn’t think it’s important. The hoodie is both who he really is – a big nerd – and a thoughtful executive’s performance of who he really is. He isn’t being immature or youthful at all. He’s striving to earn the confidence of investors by presenting himself as a scruffy genius who doesn’t care about earning their confidence. And that’s good business. (Nugent 2012)

Red sneakers effect

An informal study


ex. Study reports

5 groups

  • how many subjects?
  • what kind of subjects?
  • how were they tested?
  • what was found?
  • size of effect?

Study 1?

  • 109 female adults in downtown Milan (52 where luxury shop assistants) were presented with vignettes about the dress of possible clients. Figure 2a,b showed that shop assistants (who know some of their clients do dress casually) attributed greater status as luxury client (3.8 to 4.9) and celebrity (2.5 to 4.9) because of nonconformity; it went down for pedestrians (BellezzaGinoKeinan 2013, p. 8)

Study 1

Study 2?

  • 159 Harvard students assigned to one of 4 vignettes: 2 (prestige versus not) x 2 (conforming versus not). Figure 3 shows students perceive an unshaven professor in a T-shirt to have higher professional status and competence, but only in prestigious contexts with relatively high standards of conduct. (BellezzaGinoKeinan 2013, pp. 9-10)

Study 2

Study 3?

  • 141 Turkers are assigned to 4 vignettes about the color of the bow tie at a formal event: 2 (conforming versus not) x 2 (unintended versus intended). Figure 4 shows that inferences of status and competence are mediated by the autonomy that participants perceive in the individuals nonconforming behavior; these positive inferences dissipate when the nonconformance is perceived as unintentional (BellezzaGinoKeinan 2013, pp. 11-12)

Study 3

Study 4?

  • 149 Turkers read a description of the MIT $100K Competition and about a “John” who adopted his own presentation layout (nonconforming) or used the official layout. Figure 5 shows those with a high need for uniqueness attribute a greater status and competence to nonconforming layouts. (BellezzaGinoKeinan 2013, p. 13)

Study 4

Study 5?

  • 59 male executives attending the Inner City 100 Urban Small Business Symposium witnessed a female negotiations professor teaching a 90 minute session wearing a pair of (nonconforming) red Converse sneakers. Those who owned a pair of distinctive shoes themselves attributed greater professional status (M = 5.6) to the professor wearing the sneakers than those who did not (M=5.1). (BellezzaGinoKeinan 2013, pp. 15-16)

Concluding questions?