Social norms and human cooperation
AbstractThe existence of social norms is one of the big unsolved problems in social cognitive science. Although no other concept is invoked more frequently in the social sciences, we still know little about how social norms are formed, the forces determining their content, and the cognitive and emotional requirements that enable a species to establish and enforce social norms. In recent years, there has been substantial progress, however, on how cooperation norms are enforced. Here we review evidence showing that sanctions are decisive for norm enforcement, and that they are largely driven by nonselfish motives. Moreover, the explicit study of sanctioning behavior provides instruments for measuring social norms and has also led to deeper insights into the proximate and ultimate forces behind human cooperation.
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Length: 6 pages
Date of creation: 29 Sep 2004
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Social Norms; Cooperation; Punishment; Reciprocity;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
- D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2004-10-18 (All new papers)
- NEP-BEC-2004-10-18 (Business Economics)
- NEP-CBE-2004-10-18 (Cognitive & Behavioural Economics)
- NEP-EVO-2004-10-18 (Evolutionary Economics)
- NEP-HPE-2004-10-18 (History & Philosophy of Economics)
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