American Sociological Association

Stopping the Drama: Gendered Influence in a Network Field Experiment

Drawing on theories of social norms, we study the relative influence of female and male students using a year-long, network-based field experiment of an anti-harassment intervention program in a high school. A randomly selected subset of highly connected students participated in the intervention. We test whether these highly connected females and males influenced other students equally when students and teachers considered the problem of "drama"—peer conflict and harassment—to be associated with girls more than with boys. Exposure to male, but not female, intervention students caused decreased perceptions of the acceptability of harassment and decreased participation in negative behavior. Status beliefs became activated through the intervention program: gender differences in influence stem from higher levels of respect afforded to highly connected males in the program. The results support an account of social influence as it occurs across time in conjunction with other group processes.


Shepherd, H., Paluck, E. L.





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