Norms, Cognitive Dissonance, and Cooperative Behaviour in Laboratory Experiments

21 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2005 Last revised: 25 Jul 2010

See all articles by Philipp C. Wichardt

Philipp C. Wichardt

University of Rostock - Department of Economics

Date Written: April 21, 2007

Abstract

This paper discusses the behavioural e ffects of cognitive dissonance in conjunction with cooperative social norms and highlights their relevance for the interpretation of (non)cooperative behaviour in economic lab experiments. In particular, it is argued that, if subjects are used to cooperative social norms outside the lab, cognitive dissonance should trigger also some (norm obedient) cooperation inside the lab -- even if social connotations are reduced to a minimum and cooperative behaviour is against the subjects' monetary incentives. Moreover, drawing on common ndings in social psychology, the paper discusses the necessary conditions for cognitive dissonance e ects to occur and their relevance for the interpretation of behavioural patterns in repeated interaction. Thus, adding to earlier arguments which explain such cooperation, for example, by reference to fairness concerns or inequity aversion, the present discussion tries to illustrate in particular the individual driving forces behind such behaviour. A variety of empirical evidence is cited to illustrate and support the general line of argument.

Keywords: Cognitive Dissonance, Cooperative Behaviour, Experimental Economics, Social Norms

JEL Classification: A13, B41, C91, Z13

Suggested Citation

Wichardt, Philipp C., Norms, Cognitive Dissonance, and Cooperative Behaviour in Laboratory Experiments (April 21, 2007). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=782244 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.782244

Philipp C. Wichardt (Contact Author)

University of Rostock - Department of Economics ( email )

Ulmenstr. 69
Rostock, 18057
Germany

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