Social validation theory suggests that individuals are motivated to conform to the behavior and beliefs of others around them, particularly when they believe that those others are similar to themselves or have some sort of expertise or credibility. This phenomenon is driven by a desire for social acceptance and the belief that others have valuable information or insights that the individual does not possess. According to this theory, individuals are more likely to conform to group norms when they believe that others in the group are also conforming, as this reinforces the belief that the group's norms and values are correct and appropriate.
Social validation theory has been studied in a variety of contexts, including consumer behavior, group decision-making, and social influence. Research has shown that social validation can be a powerful motivator for behavior change and that it can be used to promote positive social norms and discourage negative ones.
In the context of an online community, social validation theory suggests that members are more likely to conform to the behavior and beliefs of others when they believe that those others are also conforming. This can be seen in online forums and social media groups, where users may be more likely to express support for popular opinions or viewpoints in order to gain acceptance from the community. Social validation can also be seen in the way that online communities create and reinforce their own norms and values, which can influence the behavior of individual members. For example, a forum dedicated to a particular hobby may develop its own norms around what is considered acceptable behavior or content, and members who violate these norms may be ostracized or criticized by the community.