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Teaching by example and induced beliefs in a model of cultural transmission

Author

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  • Adriani, Fabrizio
  • Matheson, Jesse A.
  • Sonderegger, Silvia

Abstract

We augment standard models of cultural transmission with an explicit account of social learning, grounded in the information transmission literature. Youngsters observe the behavioral trait of a role model and form beliefs about the desirability of that trait. Adults have better information about each trait and have a paternalistic attitude toward their children. This makes them reluctant to adopt myopic behavior to avoid setting a negative example to their children. This signaling distortion increases in the influence parents have over their offspring. We extend the model to allow parental influence to depend on the population frequency of each trait and show that cultural complementarity does not imply convergence to a homogeneous population. We find empirical support for a positive relationship between parental influence and propensity to exert self-restraint by looking at alcohol and tobacco consumption.

Suggested Citation

  • Adriani, Fabrizio & Matheson, Jesse A. & Sonderegger, Silvia, 2018. "Teaching by example and induced beliefs in a model of cultural transmission," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 511-529.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:145:y:2018:i:c:p:511-529
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2017.11.031
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Parent–child signaling; Cultural transmission; Social learning; Conformity;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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