Deborah Prentice

Alexander Stewart 1886 Professor

Ph.D., Yale University


I study social norms – the unwritten rules and conventions that govern social behavior. I am interested in how people are guided by norms and constrained by norms; how they respond when they feel out of step with prevailing norms; how they determine what the norms of their groups and communities are; and how they react emotionally, cognitively, and behaviorally, to those who violate social norms. Current projects address the following: When do deviates evoke positive emotional responses and what is the nature of those responses? Do people who value independence actually behave independently? Are self-interest and concern for others conflicting motives or can they both be pursued simultaneously? How do people perceive individuals who do not fit easily into single racial or gender categories? I am also interested in the use of norms in interventions designed to change behavior and am currently developing an intervention that combines economic empowerment and social norms of empowerment for women in an attempt to reduce intimate partner violence in Cali, Colombia.