Observability, Social Proximity, and the Erosion of Norm Compliance

72 Pages Posted: 3 May 2019 Last revised: 24 Mar 2020

See all articles by Cristina Bicchieri

Cristina Bicchieri

University of Pennsylvania

Eugen Dimant

University of Pennsylvania; CESifo

Simon Gaechter

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

Daniele Nosenzo

University of Nottingham

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 23, 2020

Abstract

We study how an individual's compliance with social norms is influenced by other actors' norm compliance. In a repeated non-strategic Take-or-Give donation experiment we show that giving is considered socially appropriate while taking is socially inappropriate. Observing norm violations erodes an individual's own norm compliance. We show that the erosion of norm compliance is led by a change in norm-related beliefs. This change has a major effect on individuals who initially obey the norm, driving them to non-compliance, whereas initially non-compliant individuals do not change their taking behavior. Erosion is halted when individuals have even minimal social proximity to those they observe: individuals now also pay attention to norm followers.

Keywords: Norm Compliance, Social Norms, Social Proximity

JEL Classification: C92, D64, D9

Suggested Citation

Bicchieri, Cristina and Dimant, Eugen and Gachter, Simon and Nosenzo, Daniele, Observability, Social Proximity, and the Erosion of Norm Compliance (March 23, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3355028 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3355028

Cristina Bicchieri

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

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

Eugen Dimant (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/view/eugendimant/

CESifo ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich
Germany

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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