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Conformity, reciprocity and the sense of justice. How social contract-based preferences and beliefs explain norm compliance: the experimental evidence

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  • Lorenzo Sacconi

    ()

  • Marco Faillo

    ()

Abstract

Compliance with a social norm is a matter of self-enforceability and endogenous motivation to conform, which is relevant not just to social norm,s but also to a wide array of institutions. Here we consider endogenous mechanisms that become effective once the game description has been enriched with pre-play communication allowing impartial agreements on a norm (even if they remain not binding in any sense). Behavioral models understand conformity as the maximization of some “enlarged” utility function properly defined to make room for the individual’s “desire” to comply with a norm reciprocally adhered to by other participants – whose conformity in turn depends on the expectation that the norm will be in fact reciprocally adhered to. In particular this paper presents an experimental study on the “conformity-with-the-ideal preference theory” (Grimalda and Sacconi 2005), based of a simple experimental three person game called the “exclusion game”. If the players participate in a “constitutional stage” (under a veil of ignorance) in which they decide the rule of division unanimously, the experimental data show a dramatic change in the participants’ behavior pattern. Most of them conform to the fair rule of division to which they have agreed in a pre-play communication stage, whereas in the absence of this agreement they behave egoistically. The paper also argues that this behavior is largely consistent with what John Rawls (1971) called the “sense of justice”, a theory of norm compliance unfortunately overlooked by economists and which should be reconsidered after the behaviorist turn in economics.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia in its series Department of Economics Working Papers with number 0814.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:trn:utwpde:0814

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Keywords: conformist preferences; reciprocity; veil of ignorance; psychological games; fairness; experiments;

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References

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  1. Geanakoplos, John & Pearce, David & Stacchetti, Ennio, 1989. "Psychological games and sequential rationality," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 60-79, March.
  2. David K Levine, 1997. "Modeling Altruism and Spitefulness in Experiments," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2047, David K. Levine.
  3. Robin Cubitt & Chris Starmer & Robert Sugden, 1998. "On the Validity of the Random Lottery Incentive System," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 115-131, September.
  4. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
  5. Gianluca Grimalda & Lorenzo Sacconi, 2005. "The Constitution of the Not-For-Profit Organisation: Reciprocal Conformity to Morality," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 16(3), pages 249-276, 09.
  6. Armin Falk & Urs Fischbacher, . "A Theory of Reciprocity," IEW - Working Papers 006, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  7. Starmer, Chris & Sugden, Robert, 1991. "Does the Random-Lottery Incentive System Elicit True Preferences? An Experimental Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 971-78, September.
  8. Marco Faillo & Lorenzo Sacconi, 2007. "Norm compliance: the contribution of behavioral economics models," Department of Economics Working Papers 0704, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.
  9. Gary Charness & Martin Dufwenberg, 2006. "Promises and Partnership," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(6), pages 1579-1601, November.
  10. Pierpaolo Battigalli & Martin Dufwenberg, 2007. "Guilt in Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 170-176, May.
  11. Lorenzo Sacconi & Stefano Moretti, 2004. "A Fuzzy Logic and Default Reasoning Model of Social Norm and Equilibrium Selection in Games under Unforeseen Contingencies," Department of Economics Working Papers 0412, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.
  12. Gianluca Grimalda & Lorenzo Sacconi, 2002. "The Constitution of the Nonprofit Enterprise: Ideals, Conformism and Reciprocity," LIUC Papers in Ethics, Law and Economics 115, Cattaneo University (LIUC).
  13. Joseph Farrell & Matthew Rabin, 1996. "Cheap Talk," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(3), pages 103-118, Summer.
  14. Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson, 2004. "Promises, Threats and Fairness," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(495), pages 397-420, 04.
  15. Lorenzo Sacconi & Marco Faillo, 2005. "Conformity and reciprocity in the "exclusion game": an experimental investigation," Department of Economics Working Papers 0512, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.
  16. Christoph Vanberg, 2008. "Why Do People Keep Their Promises? An Experimental Test of Two Explanations -super-1," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(6), pages 1467-1480, November.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Lorenzo Sacconi, 2012. "The Economics of Corporate Social Responsibility," Econometica Working Papers wp39, Econometica.
  2. Timo Tammi, 2011. "Contractual preferences and moral biases: social identity and procedural fairness in the exclusion game experiment," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 22(4), pages 373-397, December.
  3. Leonardo Becchetti & Giacomo Degli Antoni & Marco Faillo, 2013. "Team reasoning theory: an experimental analysis of common reason to believe and social distance," International Review of Economics, Springer, vol. 60(3), pages 269-291, September.
  4. Degli Antoni, Giacomo & Sacconi, Lorenzo, 2013. "Social responsibility, activism and boycotting in a firm–stakeholders network of games with players’ conformist preferences," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 216-226.
  5. Giacomo Degli Antoni & Lorenzo Sacconi, 2010. "Modeling Cognitive Social Capital and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as Preconditions for Sustainable Networks of Relations," Econometica Working Papers wp19, Econometica.
  6. Lorenzo Sacconi, 2010. "A Rawlsian View of CSR and the Game Theory of its Implementation (III): Conformism, Equilibrium Refinement and Selection," Econometica Working Papers wp24, Econometica.
  7. Lorenzo Sacconi, 2011. "From individual responsibility to ÔsharedÕ social responsibilities: concepts for a new paradigm," Econometica Working Papers wp27, Econometica.
  8. Lorenzo Sacconi, 2012. "Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporate Governance," Econometica Working Papers wp38, Econometica.
  9. Lorenzo Sacconi, 2012. "Ethics, Economic Organisation and the Social Contract," Econometica Working Papers wp41, Econometica.

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