Determinants of Norm Compliance: Moral Similarity and Group Identification
60 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2022
Date Written: November 22, 2021
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: Suggested Citation