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Naïve Beliefs and the Multiplicity of Social Norms

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  • Amrish Patel
  • Edward Cartwright

Abstract

In a signalling model of conformity, we demonstrate that naïve observers, those that take actions at face value, constrain the set of actions that can possibly be social norms. With rational observers many actions can be norms, but with naïve observers only actions close to that preferred by the ideal type can be norms. We suggest, therefore, that the naïvety or inexperience of observers is an important determinant of norms and how they evolve.

Suggested Citation

  • Amrish Patel & Edward Cartwright, 2012. "Naïve Beliefs and the Multiplicity of Social Norms," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 168(2), pages 280-289, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:mhr:jinste:urn:sici:0932-4569(201206)168:2_280:nbatmo_2.0.tx_2-o
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Assar Lindbeck & Sten Nyberg & Jörgen W. Weibull, 1999. "Social Norms and Economic Incentives in the Welfare State," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 1-35.
    2. Cartwright, Edward, 2009. "Conformity and out of equilibrium beliefs," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(1-2), pages 164-185, May.
    3. Jehiel, Philippe, 2005. "Analogy-based expectation equilibrium," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 123(2), pages 81-104, August.
    4. Christophe Chamley, 1999. "Coordinating Regime Switches," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 869-905.
    5. Azar, Ofer H., 2008. "Evolution of social norms with heterogeneous preferences: A general model and an application to the academic review process," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 65(3-4), pages 420-435, March.
    6. Erik Eyster & Matthew Rabin, 2005. "Cursed Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(5), pages 1623-1672, September.
    7. George A. Akerlof, 1980. "A Theory of Social Custom, of which Unemployment may be One Consequence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 94(4), pages 749-775.
    8. Azar, Ofer H., 2004. "What sustains social norms and how they evolve?: The case of tipping," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 49-64, May.
    9. In-Koo Cho & David M. Kreps, 1987. "Signaling Games and Stable Equilibria," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(2), pages 179-221.
    10. David Cooper & John Kagel, 2008. "Learning and transfer in signaling games," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 34(3), pages 415-439, March.
    11. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1994. "A Theory of Conformity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 841-877, October.
    12. Edward Cartwright & Amrish Patel, 2010. "Public Goods, Social Norms, and Naïve Beliefs," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 12(2), pages 199-223, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Nathan Berg & Jeong-Yoo Kim, 2016. "Harsh Norms And Screening For Loyalty," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(3), pages 205-217, April.
    2. Nathan Berg & Jeong-Yoo Kim, 2013. "Prohibition of Riba and Gharar: A signaling and screening explanation?," Working Papers 1314, University of Otago, Department of Economics, revised Nov 2013.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • 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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