Social Similarity and the Erosion of Social Norms

Posted: 3 Jan 2019

See all articles by Cristina Bicchieri

Cristina Bicchieri

University of Pennsylvania

Eugen Dimant

University of Pennsylvania, Behavioral Ethics Lab

Simon Gaechter

University of Nottingham; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Daniele Nosenzo

University of Nottingham

Date Written: December 14, 2018

Abstract

We study how exposure to peer behavior affects the dynamics and erosion of social norms. In a novel multi-period and non-strategic setup, individuals can actively comply with or violate a pro-social norm of giving. We study norm erosion by varying the observability of both peer behavior and social proximity among peers across treatments. Overall, we find that exposure to peers drives the erosion of norm compliance by facilitating the spread of norm violations. In the presence of social proximity to one’s peers, however, individuals are influenced by both norm followers and norm compliers in their group. We also find substantial heterogeneity with respect to how susceptible individuals are to behavioral change. These insights are particularly important from a policy perspective because they can inform and improve the effectiveness of norm-based interventions at the individual and collective level and help to advance our understanding regarding the role of social proximity (identity) in the dynamics of norms and behavioral change.

Keywords: Charitable Giving, Erosion, Norm Compliance, Norm Violations, Social Norms

JEL Classification: C92, D64, D9

Suggested Citation

Bicchieri, Cristina and Dimant, Eugen and Gachter, Simon and Nosenzo, Daniele, Social Similarity and the Erosion of Social Norms (December 14, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3301362

Cristina Bicchieri

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
215-898-5820 (Phone)

Eugen Dimant (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania, Behavioral Ethics Lab ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/eugendimant/

Simon Gachter

University of Nottingham ( email )

University Park
Nottingham, NG8 1BB
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Daniele Nosenzo

University of Nottingham ( email )

University Park
Nottingham, NG8 1BB
United Kingdom

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