Observability, Social Proximity, and the Erosion of Norm Compliance

57 Pages Posted: 3 May 2019 Last revised: 21 Oct 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: October 18, 2019

Abstract

Social norms are ubiquitous in social and economic life but the drivers of norm conformity are poorly understood. We study the specific ways in which others’ norm compliance influences own norm compliance. Our context is a repeated non-strategic Take-or-Give donation experiment in which we show that giving is considered socially appropriate while taking is inappropriate. We find that observation of norm violations by anonymous others strongly erodes own norm compliance. Most importantly, erosion is halted when people have even minimal social proximity to those they observe; in this case, individuals also pay attention to norm followers. Our results highlight the importance of social proximity for the dynamics of social norm compliance.

Keywords: Norm Erosion, Norm Compliance, Social Norms, Social Identity

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 (October 18, 2019). 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, 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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