Trick for a Treat: The Effect of Costume, Identity, and Peers on Norm Violations

20 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2019

See all articles by Shanshan Zhang

Shanshan Zhang

Claremont Graduate University

Narek Bejanyan

Claremont Colleges, Claremont Graduate University - Department of Economics

Zhou Fang

Claremont Colleges - Claremont Graduate University

Matthew Gomies

Claremont Colleges - Claremont Graduate University

Jason Justo

Claremont Colleges - Claremont Graduate University

Li-Hsin Lin

Claremont Colleges - Claremont Graduate University

Rainita Narender

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Minjae Yun

Claremont Colleges, Claremont Graduate University - Department of Economics

Joshua Tasoff

Claremont Colleges - Claremont Graduate University

Date Written: October 16, 2019

Abstract

We hypothesize that clothes can affect the behavior of the wearer by influencing the person’s identity. We test this hypothesis by recruiting trick-or-treaters during Halloween, a time of year when people wear salient and extreme clothing. Because the tradition of costume-wear for Halloween evolved, in part, to hide one’s identity during “tricks” (i.e. norm violations), it is particularly relevant to measure the effect of Halloween costumes on ethical behavior. We use the dice-rolling lying game as our experimental paradigm with 2×3×2 conditions. First, we vary the stakes to price lying behavior. Second, we run three conditions with different beneficiaries of the report (self, other, and both) to test whether lying for others is perceived to be normative. Third, we prime subjects about their costume to test the effect of costume and identity on ethical behavior. Surprisingly, priming had the opposite effect that we predicted. Rather than behaving consistently with the identity of one’s costume, primed “good guys” lied more and primed “bad guys” lied less. We interpret this as a moral licensing/self-conscience effect. We also find that stakes had no effect, people lied more for themselves than for others, and although there were no direct effects of gender, we found that children lie more when children of the same gender near them lie more. Lying has an inverted-U pattern with age, peaking at age 12.

Keywords: Halloween, lying experiment, identity, costume, clothes, norm violation

Suggested Citation

Zhang, Shanshan and Bejanyan, Narek and Fang, Zhou and Gomies, Matthew and Justo, Jason and Lin, Li-Hsin and Narender, Rainita and Yun, Minjae and Tasoff, Joshua, Trick for a Treat: The Effect of Costume, Identity, and Peers on Norm Violations (October 16, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3470960 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3470960

Shanshan Zhang

Claremont Graduate University ( email )

150 E. Tenth Street
Claremont, CA 91711
United States

Narek Bejanyan

Claremont Colleges, Claremont Graduate University - Department of Economics ( email )

Claremont, CA 91711
United States

Zhou Fang

Claremont Colleges - Claremont Graduate University ( email )

150 E. Tenth Street
Claremont, CA 91711
United States

Matthew Gomies

Claremont Colleges - Claremont Graduate University ( email )

150 E. Tenth Street
Claremont, CA 91711
United States

Jason Justo

Claremont Colleges - Claremont Graduate University ( email )

150 E. Tenth Street
Claremont, CA 91711
United States

Li-Hsin Lin

Claremont Colleges - Claremont Graduate University ( email )

150 E. Tenth Street
Claremont, CA 91711
United States

Rainita Narender

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Minjae Yun

Claremont Colleges, Claremont Graduate University - Department of Economics ( email )

Claremont, CA 91711
United States

Joshua Tasoff (Contact Author)

Claremont Colleges - Claremont Graduate University ( email )

150 E. Tenth Street
Claremont, CA 91711
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sites.cgu.edu/tasoffj/

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