Being Difficult: Customers' Sensemaking of Their Deviant Behavior

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Customers constantly deviate from social norms in their interactions with service employees. Previous research has explored customers' deviance from the service employee's viewpoint, overlooking the customers' own perspective of their deviance. Based on interviews, we present a model of customers' individual and social sensemaking of their deviant behavior in service interactions. Customers frame their behavior as inseparable from script violations by the service provider. Deviance is viewed as a justified act of taking charge to substitute an unmotivated or incapable service provider. Social sensemaking tends to validate such behavior by providing approval, thereby reinforcing norms of deviance in service.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)921-937
Number of pages17
JournalDeviant Behavior
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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