Norm Conformity across Societies

42 Pages Posted: 20 May 2012 Last revised: 16 Mar 2021

See all articles by Moti Michaeli

Moti Michaeli

University of Haifa; Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Center for the Study of Rationality

Daniel Spiro

Uppsala University, Dept. of Economics

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

Suggested Citation

Michaeli, Moti and Michaeli, Moti and Spiro, Daniel, Norm Conformity across Societies (May 17, 2012). Journal of Public Economics, Vol. 132, 2015, pages 51-65, Available at SSRN: or

Moti Michaeli

University of Haifa ( email )

Haifa 31905

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Center for the Study of Rationality ( email )

Givat Ram

Daniel Spiro (Contact Author)

Uppsala University, Dept. of Economics ( email )

Box 513
Uppsala, 751 20

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