The Dual Effect of Perceived Centrality on Conformity to Group Preference

75 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2019

See all articles by Edith Shalev

Edith Shalev

Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliyah

Rom Y. Schrift

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School

Date Written: June 1, 2019

Abstract

Central consumers — consumers with many ties in their social network — can be influential within their communities. Marketers keenly target them and expect to profit from their word-of-mouth. However, does the central consumer indeed shape the group’s preference, or alternatively, gravitate toward the popular opinion of the group? Extant research has yielded mixed findings, portraying the central consumer sometimes as susceptible and sometimes as impervious to social influence. The current research seeks to reconcile the seemingly inconsistent findings in the literature. To that end, we focus on the psychological states that emanate from the individual’s perception of his/her centrality. We propose a dual effect framework and, across five studies, show that perceived centrality affects conformity to group preferences via two opposing processes: elevated self-perceived status and enhanced identification with the group. Self-perceived status decreases while group-identification increases conformity to group preferences. Accordingly, the net effect of perceived centrality on conformity to group preferences depends on which psychological state, self-perceived status or group identification, is more pronounced.

Keywords: perceived centrality, subjective status, group identification, social influence, group preference

Suggested Citation

Shalev, Edith and Schrift, Rom Y., The Dual Effect of Perceived Centrality on Conformity to Group Preference (June 1, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3397588 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3397588

Edith Shalev (Contact Author)

Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliyah ( email )

P.O. Box 167
Herzliya, 46150
Israel

Rom Y. Schrift

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )

700 Jon M. Huntsman Hall
3730 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6340
United States

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