Determinants of Norm Compliance: Moral Similarity and Group Identification

60 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2022

See all articles by Alexander Schneeberger

Alexander Schneeberger

University of Cologne

Erin L. Krupka

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Date Written: November 22, 2021

Abstract

What determines whether someone complies with a social norm? The social identity approach offers a mechanism for norm compliance: a person who feels similar to a group identifies more with that group and, in turn, complies with the group's norms. We used an economics experiment to test this mechanism. We manipulated the similarity between an individual and a social group by exogenously changing their similarity in moral values. Moral values were identified using a survey developed in conjunction with moral foundations theory. In one treatment, the subject and social group's moral values were similar, and in another, they were dissimilar. Subsequently, we measured group identification and behavior. To measure behavior, we used a modified rule-following task in which the social group expressed a normative expectation that subjects follow "the rule". We found that moral similarity increased group identification, and group identification increased rule compliance. We show that this behavior change was due to increased group norm sensitivity rather than changes in the group norms. We advance the study of social identity by establishing a causal pathway between group identification and behavior change.

Keywords: Moral Similarity, Moral Foundations Theory, Group Identification, Group Norm Sensitivity

JEL Classification: C91, D01

Suggested Citation

Schneeberger, Alexander and Krupka, Erin L., Determinants of Norm Compliance: Moral Similarity and Group Identification (November 22, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3969227 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3969227

Alexander Schneeberger (Contact Author)

University of Cologne ( email )

Albertus-Magnus-Platz
Cologne, 50923
Germany

Erin L. Krupka

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

500 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

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