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Social norms or low-cost heuristics? An experimental investigation of imitative behavior

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  • Cicognani, Simona
  • Mittone, Luigi

Abstract

This paper extends choice theory by allowing for the interaction between cognitive costs and social norms. The authors experimentally investigate the role of imitation and temporal decisional patterns when participants face a task which is costly in cognitive terms. They identify two main reasons for imitative behavior. First, individuals belonging to a community might want to conform to others to obey to social norms. Second, individuals might be boundedly rational and consider imitation as a decisional device when comparing alternatives is cognitively demanding. In order to empirically disentangle the two effects, the authors present a laboratory experiment in which they model the choice of different alternatives through high or low cognitive costs and feedback information given to subjects. Their results do not provide strong evidence for imitative behavior. They find instead a temporal pattern in the distribution of choices, both in the high-cost and low-cost conditions. --

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Kiel Institute for the World Economy in its series Economics Discussion Papers with number 2014-2.

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Date of creation: 2014
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifwedp:20142

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Keywords: social norms; cognitive costs; laboratory experiments;

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  1. Jose Apesteguia & Steffen Huck & Jörg Oechssler, 2003. "Imitation - Theory and Experimental Evidence," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers, University of Bonn, Germany bgse20_2003, University of Bonn, Germany, revised Aug 2004.
  2. Fortin, Bernard & Lacroix, Guy & Villeval, Marie-Claire, 2007. "Tax evasion and social interactions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 91(11-12), pages 2089-2112, December.
  3. Victoria Prowse & David Gill, 2009. "A Novel Computerized Real Effort Task Based on Sliders," Economics Series Working Papers 435, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  4. Julie Beugnot & Bernard Fortin & Guy Lacroix & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2013. "Social Networks and Peer Effects at Work," CIRANO Working Papers, CIRANO 2013s-27, CIRANO.
  5. Brian Krauth, 2004. "Simulation-based estimation of peer effects," Econometrics, EconWPA 0408002, EconWPA.
  6. Piero Cipollone & Alfonso Rosolia, 2006. "Social Interactions in High School: Lessons from an Earthquake," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers), Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area 596, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  7. Offerman, Theo & Sonnemans, Joep, 1998. "Learning by experience and learning by imitating successful others," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 559-575, March.
  8. Giacomo De Giorgi & Michele Pellizzari & Silvia Redaelli, 2010. "Identification of Social Interactions through Partially Overlapping Peer Groups," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 241-75, April.
  9. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1994. "A Theory of Conformity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 841-77, October.
  10. Hayakawa, Hiroaki, 2000. "Bounded rationality, social and cultural norms, and interdependence via reference groups," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 1-34, September.
  11. Pokorny, Kathrin, 2008. "Pay--but do not pay too much: An experimental study on the impact of incentives," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 251-264, May.
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