Measuring Norms: Assessing the Threat of Social Desirability Bias to the Bicchieri and Xiao Elicitation Method

31 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2022

See all articles by Diego Aycinena

Diego Aycinena

Universidad del Rosario

Francesco Bogliacino

National University of Colombia

Erik O. Kimbrough

Chapman University - The George L. Argyros School of Business & Economics; Chapman University - Smith Institute for Political Economy and Philosophy

Abstract

Bicchieri and Xiao (2009) proposed one of the first methods to elicit normative expectations. Using a two-step procedure, the method first elicits non-incentivized reports of subjects’ Personal Normative Beliefs (PNBs) about which action is normatively best. In the second step, subjects are incentivized to predict the distribution of others’ reported PNBs, thus capturing their second order normative beliefs or normative expectations. The lack of incentives in the first step of the method introduces the potential for belief falsification. This paper explores the susceptibility of this pioneering norm elicitation method to Social Desirability Bias. We report pre-registered experiments that vary the threat of sanctioning by third party monitors, such that in one treatment, respondents may wish to falsify their beliefs about the norm in a variant of the dictator game. We show that anticipated SDB may be sufficient to induce misreporting of normative expectations. Researchers who plan to use this method to measure sensitive, local norms, especially in the field, should design their studies in a way that minimizes the risk that the anticipation of Social Desirability Bias influences respondents’ reports, biasing measures of normative expectations.

Keywords: Social norms, Normative Expectations, Personal Normative Beliefs, Social Desirability Bias, Belief Elicitation by Superimposition Approach, laboratory experiments

Suggested Citation

Aycinena, Diego and Bogliacino, Francesco and Kimbrough, Erik O., Measuring Norms: Assessing the Threat of Social Desirability Bias to the Bicchieri and Xiao Elicitation Method. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4029493 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4029493

Diego Aycinena (Contact Author)

Universidad del Rosario ( email )

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Bogotá, Bogotá, DC
Colombia
(+57 1) 2970200 ext. 4907 (Phone)

Francesco Bogliacino

National University of Colombia ( email )

Carrera 30 45-03
Bogota, None
Colombia

Erik O. Kimbrough

Chapman University - The George L. Argyros School of Business & Economics ( email )

One University Dr
Orange, CA 92866
United States

Chapman University - Smith Institute for Political Economy and Philosophy ( email )

One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866
United States

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