Social Similarity and the Erosion of Social Norms
Posted: 3 Jan 2019
Date Written: December 14, 2018
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: Suggested Citation