Recipient of the 2005 Outstanding Master's Thesis Award - First Place.
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Open Access Thesis
Top-down models of culture provide a useful although limited understanding of cultural content, formation, and change. Previous theorizing using bottom-up models help to explain why cultures exist and explain some of their content. Dynamic social impact theory (DSIT; Latane, 1996) expands on previous bottom-up models by proposing a concise mechanism for cultural content transmission and the dynamic outcome of this process. Furthermore, the catastrophe theory of attitudes (Latane & Nowak, 1994) suggests that the level of involvement of an issue will modify attitude change and therefore modify DSIT's predictions. The present study expanded on previous research to offer a more complete field test of DSIT (Latane, 1996) and explore how involvement and communication may affect cultural content and change. A total of 1252 students from four residence halls participated in four online surveys over the course of the Fall 2002 semester. Participants indicated that more of their friends and conversers lived in their house than in any other social unit. In the 11 weeks between the first survey and the final survey, students became more similar to those they lived with and the correlation between their attitudes and behaviors increased. However, the consolidation prediction of DSIT was not supported. Participants did not become more similar on high importance issues than on low importance issues. Unexpectedly, variance and minority size increased more over time for low importance items than for high importance items. Limitations of the study included low discussion rates of the items and a large portion of the participants having a prior history together, suggesting they may have been similar in their attitudes and behaviors prior to living in the residence halls. Future research avenues and implications for DSIT (Latane, 1996) and CTA (Latane & Nowak, 1994) are discussed.
Year of Submission
Master of Arts
Department of Psychology
Helen C. Harton, Chair, Thesis Committee
1 PDF file (v, 209 pages)
©2003 Jerry G. Cullum
Cullum, Jerry G., "Culture from chaos: The formation of social norms from the dynamic self-organization of individuals' attitudes and behavior" (2003). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 588.