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特立独行中释放的成功讯息

更新时间:2014-4-1 14:23:44 来源:华尔街日报中文网 作者:佚名

Success Outside the Dress Code
特立独行中释放的成功讯息

Anyone who has felt like the odd duck of the group can take heart from new research from Harvard Business School that says sticking out in distinct ways can lend you an air of presence or influence.

Standing out in certain circumstances, like wearing sweats in a luxury store, also appears to boost an individual's standing.

One obvious way people signal what the researchers called 'status' is through visible markers, like what they wear and what they buy. Previous research has largely examined why people buy or wear branded items.

Less work has focused on what others think of those who try to communicate that they are different or worthy of attention. Efforts to be different are interesting because humans are wired to conform and be part of a group.

In a series of studies published in the Journal of Consumer Research in February, Silvia Bellezza, a doctoral student, and two Harvard professors sought to examine what observers thought of individuals who deviated from the norm in the workplace and in a retail setting. Some of the work was conducted in the lab on students. Other studies took place in the community and involved passersby or attendees of a seminar. Most of the studies included about 150 participants. What they found was that being a little different can socially benefit people -- in some situations.

'The problem is that conforming to norms is an easy and safe spot to be in,' Ms. Bellezza said. 'If you're willing to deviate, there are upsides.' It's also long been known that people veer from what's expected after they've built up enough trust within a group. But, she says, acting differently risks losing the benefits that come with conforming, such as shared group identity and automatic group trust.

In their first study, they asked shop assistants and pedestrians in Milan to rate what they thought of people who walked into luxury stores wearing gym clothes. The subjects also rated those who wore outfits typically considered more appropriate, like a dress and fur coat.

Pedestrians were more likely to think that a well-dressed individual was more likely to have the money to buy something in the store. Shop assistants thought the opposite. Those more familiar with the luxury retail environment were more likely to assume that a gym-clothes-wearing client was confident enough to not need to dress up more, and therefore more apt to be a celebrity making a purchase than someone wrapped in fur.

The same pattern emerged in subsequent studies conducted in other settings: Students afforded more respect to a fictitious bearded professor who wore a T-shirt than to a clean-shaven one who wore a tie. Candidates entering a business-plan competition who chose to use their own PowerPoint presentation background were tabbed more likely to win than those who used the standard background.

There are boundaries to the benefits of looking different, the Harvard work showed. If an individual was viewed as accidentally out of sync with everyone else, such as mistakenly wearing a red bow tie rather than black at a formal event, that erased positive feelings about him among those surveyed. Those opinions only improved when the survey group believed their contrarian acted differently on purpose.

'In order to think that the person's a big shot, you have to understand that the person is willingly engaging in this nonconforming conduct,' Ms. Bellezza says.

In addition, the environment must give cues that suggest a person's talent or wealth. Standing in the front of the classroom or walking confidently into a luxury store already imply some level of belonging. But when an observer didn't know whether the person they view is part of the group, eccentric dress was seen as a negative, according to the researchers.

People who tend toward the offbeat themselves show extra fondness for freethinking behavior in others. Francesca Gino, an associate business administration professor at Harvard Business School and an author on the paper, decided to test the theory outside the lab as well. She wore red Converse sneakers to teach a one-day event on small business management education. Dr. Gino found that those who identified themselves on a questionnaire as having a higher need to be unique were more likely to give her higher ratings than those who didn't.

'They inferred, 'She's so autonomous, she must do whatever she wants,' ' Ms. Bellezza says.

There are times when communicating high rank and competence becomes more important, such as during a shake-up in management at work. Signaling one's place in a group reduces uncertainty, but sometimes the goal may be to fit into the group, and sometimes to signal that one is a high-status person in the group, says David Dubois, a marketing professor at Insead in France and Singapore.

Willingness to deviate can be useful for groups as well, particularly when it comes to decision-making, says Charles Pavitt, a University of Delaware communications professor who studies social influence.

The person who brings up alternative points of view to make sure the group has sufficiently examined all options can help the group reach a better decision. If the group trusts the individual's intentions, this perspective will be considered seriously and the individual will still be considered part of the group, he says.

Perhaps the best strategy for preserving your place in the group while presenting offbeat ideas is to state explicitly that you are playing devil's advocate, Dr. Pavitt says.

Marshall Scott Poole, a communications professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, cautions that while groups tend initially to make an evaluation of status based on external characteristics, over time people focus less on those characteristics and more on behavior.

Dr. Poole's best practical advice: 'Don't talk a lot if you have high status. People will assume you're competent and when you talk, they will listen to you.'

哈佛商学院(Harvard Business School)一项新的研究能让感觉自己很像人群中“另类”的人为之一振。这项研究称,坚持走与众不同的道路能赋予你一种存在感或影响力。

在某些场合特立独行,比如身穿运动衣走进一家奢侈品店似乎也能抬高一个人的身份。

人们往往通过一些看得见的标识来显示研究人员所说的“地位”,比如穿什么样的衣服和买什么样的东西。之前的研究主要考察人们为什么要购买或穿著名牌。

但他人是如何看待那些试图显示自己与众不同或值得关注的人呢?这方面的研究还比较少。这些追求与众不同的人是很有意思的,因为人的天性是循规蹈矩和与其他人打成一片。

博士生西尔维娅·贝莱扎(Silvia Bellezza)及哈佛大学的两名教授2月份在《消费者研究杂志》(Journal of Consumer Research)上发表了一系列研究的论文,在这些研究中,他们试图考察观察者如何看待在工作场所和零售店环境中不守定规的个人。一些研究是在实验室里针对学生进行的。还有一些研究则是在社区环境中进行的,研究对象包括过路人和一个研讨会的参加者。这些研究的参加人数大多在150名左右。他们发现,在某些情况下,略显与众不同能让人在社会交往中获益。

贝莱扎说:“问题在于,遵守定规是一种简单而安全的做法。但如果你愿意特立独行,也是有好处的。”另外我们早就知道,人们在某个群体中赢得充分信任之后会变得随意一些。但她表示,特立独行也有一定风险,会让人无法享受遵守定规带来的好处,比如群体认同和群体成员自然而然的信任。

在第一项研究中,研究人员在米兰让店员和路人对身穿运动衣走进奢侈品店的人进行评价。受访者还对那些以一般标准衡量着装更得体的人(比如身着礼服和皮草大衣)进行了评价。

路人倾向于认为衣着考究的人买得起奢侈品的可能性更大。而店员的看法则恰恰相反。对奢侈品零售环境更加熟悉的人往往认为穿运动衣的客人拥有充足的信心,而无需靠穿着来装点门面,因此,与身裹皮草的人相比,他们更有可能是一掷千金的名流。

在其他环境中进行的后续研究也呈现出相同模式:学生更尊敬虚拟图片中身穿T恤衫、胡子拉碴的教授,而不是胡子刮得干干 、打着领带的教授。在商业计划大赛中,选择使用自己的PowerPoint幻灯片背景的参赛选手被认为比使用标准背景的选手更有希望胜出。

但研究也显示,与众不同能否带来好处也要视情况而定。如果一个人被认为是无意中违反了定规(比如在正式场合错误地佩戴了红领结而不是黑领结),那么受访者对这个人的正面印象就会荡然无存。只有在受访者认为这些叛逆者的行为是有意而为之时,正面印象才会增强。

贝莱扎说:“要把某个人视为重要人物,你必须要认为这个人是有意突破常规的。”

此外,环境必须能暗示一个人的才能或财富。站在教室前方或者信心十足地踏进奢侈品店已经暗示出某种身份。但研究人员表示,当人们不了解他们的观察对象是否是特定群体的一员时,古怪的穿着就会给人留下负面印象。

不走寻常路的人也会对其他人突破常规的行为青眼相待。哈佛商学院工商管理学副教授、研究论文作者之一弗朗西斯卡·吉诺(Francesca Gino)决定在实验室之外也对该理论进行一番检验。

她脚蹬一双红色匡威(Converse)运动鞋在一个为期一天的小企业管理教育活动上讲课。吉诺博士发现,在问卷调查中自认为更追求与众不同的人往往比其他人给她的评价更高。

贝莱扎说:“他们据此推断:‘她很有主见,她肯定会按照自己的想法来行事。’”

有时候,彰显自己的地位和能力会有特殊意义,比如在职场管理层变动时。在法国和新加坡设有分校的欧洲工商管理学院(Insead)的市场营销学教授戴维·杜布瓦(David Dubois)称,显示一个人在群体中的地位会减少不确定感,但也要具体问题具体对待,有时候目标也许是融入这个群体,有时则是要显示这个人在该群体中拥有较高地位。

特拉华大学(University of Delaware)研究社会影响问题的传播学教授查尔斯·帕维特(Charles Pavitt)表示,特立独行的意愿对群体来说也是很有用的,尤其是在决策方面。

如果有人能提出不同意见,以确保群体充分考察所有观点,那么这个人就能帮助该群体做出更好的决策。他说,如果一个群体相信唱反调的人出发点是好的,那么相关意见就会得到认真考虑,而这个人则仍能被群体接纳。

帕维特博士说,要想在提出异议的同时保持你在群体中的位置,最佳策略也许是明确指出你是有意提出不同意见的。

伊利诺伊大学厄巴纳-香槟分校(University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)的传播学教授马歇尔·斯科特·普尔(Marshall Scott Poole)警告称,虽然群体最初往往根据外在特征来衡量一个人的地位,但慢慢地,关注点会由这些外在特征转向人的行为。

普尔博士建议最好这样做:“如果你身居高位,不要多说话。人们会认为你很有能力,你一旦开口,他们就会听你的。”

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