Expressive Politics as (Costly) Norm-Following

71 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2016 Last revised: 18 Oct 2018

See all articles by Mark Pickup

Mark Pickup

Simon Fraser University (SFU)

Erik O. Kimbrough

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

Eline A. de Rooij

University of Oxford

Date Written: October 12, 2018


When making a decision whether to support a political candidate, policy or cause, individuals are observed to prioritize the expression of their political identities. Recent work shows they will even knowingly incur a cost in order to do so. We argue that leading theories on how political identities drive political decisions cannot explain this behavior but that the view of political identities as social identities that impart norms of correct behavior can. We develop and test the proposition that when making a political decision individuals are willing to knowingly incur a cost in order to comply with the norms of their political identity. Our contribution is to show, through a series of population-based experiments, that norms are an important additional mechanism by which political identities affect decisions and can explain observations that other mechanisms cannot. This has distinct implications for how identities affect political decisions.

Keywords: norms, identity, political expression, experiments

Suggested Citation

Pickup, Mark and Kimbrough, Erik O. and de Rooij, Eline A., Expressive Politics as (Costly) Norm-Following (October 12, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Mark Pickup (Contact Author)

Simon Fraser University (SFU) ( email )

8888 University Drive
Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6

Erik O. Kimbrough

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

One University Dr
Orange, CA 92866
United States

Eline A. De Rooij

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

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