Norms, Cognitive Dissonance, and Cooperative Behaviour in Laboratory Experiments
21 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2005 Last revised: 25 Jul 2010
Date Written: April 21, 2007
This paper discusses the behavioural effects 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 eects 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: Suggested Citation