A Portable Method of Eliciting Respect for Social Norms

18 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2016 Last revised: 4 May 2018

See all articles by Erik O. Kimbrough

Erik O. Kimbrough

Chapman University - The George L. Argyros School of Business & Economics

Alexander Vostroknutov

University of Trento

Date Written: April 26, 2018

Abstract

Recent models of prosociality suggest that cooperation in laboratory games may be better understood as resulting from concern for social norms than from prosocial preferences over outcomes. Underlying this interpretation is the idea that people exhibit heterogeneous respect for shared norms. We introduce a new, abstract task to elicit a proxy for individual norm-following propensity by asking subjects to choose from two actions, where one is costly. We instruct subjects that "the rule is" to take the costly action. Their willingness to incur such a cost reveals respect for norms. We show that choices in this task are similar across five countries. Rule-following is correlated with norm-consistent behavior in dictator games, providing support for our interpretation.

Keywords: Experimental Economics, Norms, Prosocial Behavior, Social Preferences

JEL Classification: C91, D03

Suggested Citation

Kimbrough, Erik O. and Vostroknutov, Alexander, A Portable Method of Eliciting Respect for Social Norms (April 26, 2018). Economics Letters, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2805146 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2805146

Erik O. Kimbrough (Contact Author)

Chapman University - The George L. Argyros School of Business & Economics ( email )

One University Dr
Orange, CA 92866
United States

Alexander Vostroknutov

University of Trento ( email )

Via Giuseppe Verdi 26
Trento, Trento 38152
Italy

HOME PAGE: http://www.vostroknutov.com

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