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Social influences towards conformism in economic experiments

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  • Hargreaves Heap, Shaun P.

Abstract

This paper reviews some of the economic experimental evidence on conformism. There is nothing to match the early psychology experiments where subjects were often swayed by the behaviour of others to an extraordinary degree, but there is plenty of evidence of conformism. This seems built-in to our sociality either because we have preferences for conversation or status which are activated by the knowledge of what others do, or because other people face relevantly similar decisions to our own and so that their behaviour signals something useful to us about the uncertain world. These social influences can cause mischief. The more worrying cases, however, are those where individual preferences themselves change through interaction with others: the strongest experimental evidence for this is with respect to individual social preferences, particularly in a context where individuals belong to different groups.

Suggested Citation

  • Hargreaves Heap, Shaun P., 2014. "Social influences towards conformism in economic experiments," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 8, pages 1-15.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifweej:201422
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.5018/economics-ejournal.ja.2014-22
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    File URL: https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/97644/1/786601019.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Johannes Abeler & Armin Falk & Lorenz Goette & David Huffman, 2011. "Reference Points and Effort Provision," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(2), pages 470-492, April.
    2. Angela A. Hung & Charles R. Plott, 2001. "Information Cascades: Replication and an Extension to Majority Rule and Conformity-Rewarding Institutions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1508-1520, December.
    3. Carpenter, Jeffrey P., 2004. "When in Rome: conformity and the provision of public goods," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 395-408, September.
    4. Timothy N. Cason & Vai-Lam Mui, 1998. "Social Influence in the Sequential Dictator Game," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-37, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    5. Shaun P. Hargreaves Heap & Daniel John Zizzo, 2009. "The Value of Groups," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 295-323, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Schlicht, Ekkehart, 2014. "Two Additional Remarks on Conformism," Discussion Papers in Economics 18376, University of Munich, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Conformism; cascade; social comparison; social preferences; in-group bias;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

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