Social Influences on Policy Preferences: Conformity and Reactance

41 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2016 Last revised: 19 Jan 2018

See all articles by Meirav Furth-Matzkin

Meirav Furth-Matzkin

University of Chicago - Law School

Cass R. Sunstein

Harvard Law School; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: December 7, 2016

Abstract

Social norms have been used to nudge people toward specified outcomes in various domains. But can people be nudged to support, or to reject, proposed government policies? How do people’s views change when they learn that the majority approves of a particular policy, or that the majority opposes it? To answer these questions, we conducted a series of experiments. We find that in important contexts, learning about the majority’s opinion causes a significant shift toward support for or opposition to particular policies. At the same time, we find that when people’s views are fixed and firm, they are unlikely to conform to the majority’s view and that they might even show reactance. We show this pattern of results with respect to people’s support for or opposition to governmental policies in a wide range of substantive areas — and also to the use of paternalistic tools, such as nudges or bans.

Keywords: social influences, nudges, conformity, reactance

Suggested Citation

Furth-Matzkin, Meirav and Sunstein, Cass R., Social Influences on Policy Preferences: Conformity and Reactance (December 7, 2016). 102 Minn. L. Rev. 101 (2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2816595 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2816595

Meirav Furth-Matzkin (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Cass R. Sunstein

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts Ave
Areeda Hall 225
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-2291 (Phone)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
767
Abstract Views
5,918
rank
31,751
PlumX Metrics