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Social norms and cooperation in real-life social dilemmas


  • Thøgersen, John


The hypothesis, that injunctive and descriptive norms interact positively or synergistically to promote cooperation in social dilemmas, is tested in the context of a survey study focusing on environmentally responsible behaviour. Measurement error and strong and positive correlations between the two types of normative beliefs make it difficult to test the interaction hypothesis. By using structural equation modelling with residual centering, these problems are overcome and the interaction hypothesis is confirmed. The result is stable across three replications spanning a two-year period.

Suggested Citation

  • Thøgersen, John, 2008. "Social norms and cooperation in real-life social dilemmas," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 458-472, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:29:y:2008:i:4:p:458-472

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Biel, Anders & Thogersen, John, 2007. "Activation of social norms in social dilemmas: A review of the evidence and reflections on the implications for environmental behaviour," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 93-112, January.
    2. Ajzen, Icek, 1991. "The theory of planned behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 179-211, December.
    3. Wenzel, Michael, 2005. "Misperceptions of social norms about tax compliance: From theory to intervention," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 862-883, December.
    4. Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 1999. "Collective action as a social exchange," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 341-369, July.
    5. Lynch, John G, Jr, 1982. " On the External Validity of Experiments in Consumer Research," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(3), pages 225-239, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Abbott, Andrew & Nandeibam, Shasikanta & O'Shea, Lucy, 2013. "Recycling: Social norms and warm-glow revisited," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 10-18.
    2. Grolleau, Gilles & Ibanez, Lisette & Lavoie, Nathalie, 2016. "Cause-related marketing of products with a negative externality," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 69(10), pages 4321-4330.
    3. Romar Correa, 2010. "Regime-Changes in a Stock-Flow-Consistent Model," Interdisciplinary Description of Complex Systems - scientific journal, Croatian Interdisciplinary Society Provider Homepage:, vol. 8(1), pages 24-33.
    4. repec:hal:cesptp:hal-00395939 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Grønhøj, Alice & Thøgersen, John, 2012. "Action speaks louder than words: The effect of personal attitudes and family norms on adolescents’ pro-environmental behaviour," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 292-302.
    6. Sütterlin, Bernadette & Brunner, Thomas A. & Siegrist, Michael, 2011. "Who puts the most energy into energy conservation? A segmentation of energy consumers based on energy-related behavioral characteristics," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(12), pages 8137-8152.
    7. Marie-Laure Cabon-Dhersin & Nathalie Etchart-Vincent, 2012. "The puzzle of cooperation in a game of chicken: an experimental study," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 72(1), pages 65-87, January.
    8. Marie-Laure Cabon-Dhersin & Nathalie Etchart-Vincent, 2008. "Cooperation in a Game of Chicken with Heterogeneous Agents: An Experimental Study," CIRED Working Papers hal-00395939, HAL.

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