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Middle‐Status Conformity: Theoretical Restatement and Empirical Demonstration in Two Markets1

University of ChicagoStanford University

This article aims to reestablish the long‐standing conjecture that conformity is high at the middle and low at either end of a status order. On a theoretical level, the article clarifies the basis for expecting such an inverted $$\textsf{U}$$‐shaped curve, taking care to specify key scope conditions on the social‐psychological orientations of the actors, the characteristics of the status structure, and the nature of the relevant actions. It also validates the conjecture in two settings that both meet such conditions and allow for the elimination of confounding effects: the Silicon Valley legal services market and the market for investment advice. These results inform our understanding of how an actor's status interacts with her role incumbency to produce differential conformity in settings that meet the specified scope conditions.