Standing out, rather than fitting in, could in fact be the smarter route to success. A phrase coined in a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research in 2014, the “red sneaker effect”, revealed we confer higher status and competence on mavericks versus conformists.
So we often perceive someone wearing clothing that deviates from the norm in professional settings as having higher ability, rank and respect than colleagues who conform to dress codes.
This is because diverging from the norm signals you have autonomy and can bear the cost of nonconformity – even if it costs you your job.
But she found that in collective cultures,such as East Asia and Latin America, people prefer norm followers as leaders, because they may prioritise organisational goals over their own.