IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Social norms as choreography


  • Herbert Gintis

    (Santa Fe Institute, USA and Central European University, Hungary,


This article shows that social norms are better explained as correlating devices for a correlated equilibrium of the underlying stage game, rather than Nash equilibria. Whereas the epistemological requirements for rational agents playing Nash equilibria are very stringent and usually implausible, the requirements for a correlated equilibrium amount to the existence of common priors, which we interpret as induced by the cultural system of the society in question. When the correlating device has perfect information, we need in addition only to posit that individuals obey the social norm when it is costless to do so. When the correlating device has incomplete information, the operation of the social norm requires that individuals have a predisposition to follow the norm even when this is costly. The latter case explains why social norms are associated with other-regarding preferences and provides a basis for analyzing honesty and corruption.

Suggested Citation

  • Herbert Gintis, 2010. "Social norms as choreography," Politics, Philosophy & Economics, , vol. 9(3), pages 251-264, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:pophec:v:9:y:2010:i:3:p:251-264

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Lahno, Amrei M. & Lahno, Bernd, 2014. "Team Reasoning as a Guide to Coordination," Discussion Papers in Economics 20822, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    2. Johnson, Noel, 2015. "Taxes, National Identity, and Nation Building: Evidence from France," MPRA Paper 63598, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. repec:gam:jscscx:v:7:y:2018:i:3:p:40-:d:135412 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Lahno, Amrei Marie & Lahno, Bernd, 2014. "Team Reasoning as a Guide to Coordination," MPRA Paper 55670, University Library of Munich, Germany.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sae:pophec:v:9:y:2010:i:3:p:251-264. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (SAGE Publications). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.