A rich but checkered literature in sociology presumes that maintaining multiple and conflicting social roles—for instance, having a high level of education and low level of occupational prestige—produces anxiety. Due to many theoretical and methodological difficulties involved with identifying the source and consequences of these "role conflicts," however, such theories have been largely neglected in contemporary discourse. I revisit this influential but discredited line of research in order to combine its most basic intuition—social life involves living in multiple contexts simultaneously—with several insights gleaned from more enduring research on the sociology and social psychology of identity. Ultimately, I propose an alternative to earlier role conflict theories: anxiety, and certain behavioral responses intended to alleviate that anxiety, are not the product of conflicting roles, per se, but of conflicting evaluations by two or more discrete and relevant audiences of a single role performance. I evaluate this hypothesis using panel data from the Professional Golf Association (PGA). Results show that golfers are more likely to adopt risky playing strategies when a discontinuity exists between their internally- (players) and externally- (media) derived evaluations. Implications for social comparison and performance feedback theories under conditions of multiple audiences are highlighted.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||25|
|Journal||Research in Organizational Sciences|
|State||Published - 2013|