Identity and the Self-Reinforcing Effects of Norm Compliance
Southern Economic Journal. Forthcoming.
38 Pages Posted: 7 Jun 2018 Last revised: 6 Sep 2019
Date Written: August 23, 2019
When making political and economic decisions (e.g. voting, donating money to a cause), individuals consider the expectations of groups with which they identify. These expectations are injunctive norms, shared beliefs about appropriate behavior for identity group members, and individuals’ choices reflect trade-offs between adherence to these norms and other preferences. We show that when those who identify moderately/strongly with the group pay a cost as a consequence of avoiding a norm violation, they subsequently view the norms as stronger than those that paid no cost. This is evident in their greater willingness to pay an additional cost to punish/reward other group members for violating/complying with the norm. They also view other norms associated with the identity as stronger. In this way, costly norm compliance may be self-reinforcing.
Keywords: norms, identity, punishment, reward
JEL Classification: C91, D72, D91
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation