Norm Conformity across Societies
42 Pages Posted: 20 May 2012 Last revised: 16 Mar 2021
Date Written: May 17, 2012
This paper studies theoretically the aggregate distribution of revealed preferences when heterogeneous individuals make the trade off between being true to their real opinions and conforming to a social norm. We show that in orthodox societies, individuals will tend to either conform fully or ignore the social norm, while individuals in liberal societies will tend to compromise between the two extremes. The model sheds light on phenomena such as polarization, alienation and hypocrisy. We also show that societies with orthodox individuals will be liberal on aggregate unless the social norm is upheld by an authority. This suggests that orthodoxy cannot be maintained under pluralism.
Keywords: Social norms, social pressure, distribution of stances, revealed preferences, orthodox societies
JEL Classification: D3, D7, E1, Z1
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