Social Similarity and the Erosion of Social Norms

20 December 2018
Versione stampabile

Venue: Economics building, via Inama, 5 (Trento) - Seminar room
Time: 2 pm



We study how exposure to peer behavior affects the dynamics of norms. In a novel multiperiod
and non-strategic setup, individuals can actively comply with or violate a pro-social norm of giving. We study norm erosion by varying the observability of both peer behavior and social proximity among peers across treatments. Overall, we end that exposure to peers drives the erosion of norms by facilitating the spread of norm violations. In the presence of social proximity to one's peers, however, individuals are infuenced by observing both examples of norm violations and norm compliance. We also find substantial heterogeneity with respect to how susceptible individuals are to behavioral change. These insights are particularly important from a policy perspective because they can inform and improve the effectiveness of norm-based interventions at the individual and collective level and help to advance our understanding regarding the role of social proximity (identity) in the dynamics of norms and behavioral change.

Keywords: Charitable Giving, Erosion, Norms, Norm Evolution, Norm Violations
JEL: C92, D64, D9

The paper is co-authored with Cristina Bicchieria (University of Pennsylvania), Simon Gachterb (University of Nottingham) and Daniele Nosenzo (University of Nottingham).