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How Norms Can Generate Conflict: An Experiment on the Failure of Cooperative Micro-Motives on the Macro-Level

Social Forces 90 (3), 919-946, March 2012

28 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2013  

Fabian Winter

Max-Planck-Institute for Research on Collective Goods

Heiko Rauhut

University of Zurich

Dirk Helbing

ETH Zürich - Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences (GESS)

Date Written: April 11, 2013

Abstract

Why does the adherence to norms not prevent conflict? While the current literature focuses on the emergence, maintenance and impact of norms with regard to cooperation, the issue of norm-related conflict deserves more attention. We develop a general game theoretical model of “normative conflict” and explain how transaction failures on the macrolevel can result from cooperative motives on the microlevel. We differentiate between two kinds of conflict. The first results from distinct expectations regarding the way in which general normative obligations should be fulfilled, the second from distinct expectations as to how the norm should restrain actions based on self-interest. We demonstrate the empirical relevance of normative conflict in a version of the ultimatum game. Our data reveal widespread normative conflict among different types of actors – egoistic, equity, equality and cherry picker. Our findings demonstrate how cooperative intentions about how to divide a collectively produced good may fail to produce cooperative outcomes.

Suggested Citation

Winter, Fabian and Rauhut, Heiko and Helbing, Dirk, How Norms Can Generate Conflict: An Experiment on the Failure of Cooperative Micro-Motives on the Macro-Level (April 11, 2013). Social Forces 90 (3), 919-946, March 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2248667

Fabian Winter (Contact Author)

Max-Planck-Institute for Research on Collective Goods ( email )

Kurt Schumacher Str 10
Bonn, 53113
Germany

Heiko Rauhut

University of Zurich ( email )

Andreasstrasse 15
8050 Zurich, CH-8050
Switzerland
+41 44 635 23 54 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.suz.uzh.ch/rauhut.html

Dirk Helbing

ETH Zürich - Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences (GESS) ( email )

ETH Zurich - Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
Clausiusstrasse 50
Zurich, 8092
Switzerland

HOME PAGE: http://www.coss.ethz.ch

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