Cosi Fan Tutte: Information, Beliefs and the Compliance with Norms
Technical University of Darmstadt
November 1, 2009
Social norms help to solve collective dilemmas. In addition to the internalization of norms, social control and rational calculation, this paper analyzes the role of information for compliance. The individual’s compliance with social norms is based on reciprocity: individuals comply, as long as they hold the belief that the norm is valid, i.e. predominantly complied with in the society. Compliance is the rational thing to do in this situation. If the norm is no longer valid, compliance is the irrational thing to do. This paper tests the importance of information – in the form of public information and private experience – which allows the individual to update its beliefs about whether the norm is still valid or not. The empirical findings based on a multilevel analysis of survey data from 24 countries strongly confirm the prediction that beliefs about the validity of norms in the society are a major factor in deciding to deviate from norms, comparable in its strength to the internalization of norms.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 26
Keywords: Beliefs, Social Norms, Deviant behavior, Information, Reciprocity
JEL Classification: K42, D84, D83, D01working papers series
Date posted: December 8, 2009
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