Lifting the veil of ignorance: An experiment on the contagiousness of norm violations
AbstractNorm violations can be contagious. Previous research analyzed two mechanisms of why knowledge about others’ norm violations triggers its spread: (1) Actors lower their subjective beliefs about the probability or severity of punishment, or (2) they condition their compliance on others’ compliance. While earlier field studies could hardly disentangle both effects, we use a laboratory experiment which eliminated any punishment threat. Subjects (n = 466) could commit a violation of the honesty norm. They threw a die and were paid according to their reported number. Our design ruled out any possibility of personal identification so that subjects could lie about their thrown number and claim inflated payoffs without risking detection. The aggregate distribution of reported payoffs allowed determining the extent of liars in the population. Two treatments in which subjects were informed about lying behavior of others were compared to a control condition without information feedback. Distributions from a subsequent dice throw revealed that knowledge about liars triggered the spread of lying compared to the control condition. Our results demonstrate the contagiousness of norm violations, where actors imitate norm violations of others under the exclusion of strategic motives.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by University of Oxford, Nuffield College in its series Discussion Papers with number 2011004.
Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2011
Date of revision:
Social norms; social influence; cheating; lying; experimental sociology; conditional cooperation; Heinrich Popitz;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
- D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search, Learning, and Information
- H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Fischbacher, Urs & Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 2001.
"Are people conditionally cooperative? Evidence from a public goods experiment,"
Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 397-404, June.
- Urs Fischbacher & Simon Gaechter & Ernst Fehr, . "Are People Conditionally Cooperative? Evidence from a Public Goods Experiment," IEW - Working Papers 016, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
- Noah J. Goldstein & Robert B. Cialdini & Vladas Griskevicius, 2008. "A Room with a Viewpoint: Using Social Norms to Motivate Environmental Conservation in Hotels," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(3), pages 472-482, 03.
- Banerjee, Abhijit V, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817, August.
- Sushil Bikhchandani & David Hirshleifer & Ivo Welch, 1998. "Learning from the Behavior of Others: Conformity, Fads, and Informational Cascades," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 151-170, Summer.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wojtek Przepiorka).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.