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Does Social Judgment Diminish Rule Breaking?

Author

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  • Timothy C. Salmon
  • Danila Serra

Abstract

We experimentally investigate the extent to which social observability of one’s actions and the possibility of social non-monetary judgment affect the decision to engage in rule breaking behavior. We consider three rule breaking scenarios — theft, bribery and embezzlement — in the absence of any formal enforcement mechanism. By involving a student sample characterized by cultural heterogeneity due to immigration of ancestors to the US, we are able to investigate whether the effectiveness of informal social enforcement mechanisms is conditional on the cultural background of the decision-maker. A total of 52 countries are represented in our sample, ranging from Low Rule of Law countries such as Liberia and Nigeria to High Rule of Law countries such as Sweden and Norway. Our data provide evidence that people with different cultural backgrounds do respond differently to increased social observability of their actions. In particular, while subjects that identify culturally with a High Rule of Law country respond to social obervability and judgment by lowering their propensities to engage in rule breaking, subjects that identify with Low Rule of Law countries do not. Our findings suggest that development policies that rely purely on social judgment to enforce behavior may not work with Low Rule of Law populations.

Suggested Citation

  • Timothy C. Salmon & Danila Serra, 2013. "Does Social Judgment Diminish Rule Breaking?," CSAE Working Paper Series 2013-05, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2013-05
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    File URL: http://www.csae.ox.ac.uk/materials/papers/csae-wps-2013-05.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Stefano DellaVigna & John A. List & Ulrike Malmendier, 2012. "Testing for Altruism and Social Pressure in Charitable Giving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(1), pages 1-56.
    2. López-Pérez, Raúl & Vorsatz, Marc, 2010. "On approval and disapproval: Theory and experiments," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 527-541, August.
    3. Simon Gaechter & Benedikt Herrmann & Christian Thoeni, 2010. "Culture and Cooperation," Discussion Papers 2010-09, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Does Social Judgment Diminish Rule Breaking?
      by UDADISI in UDADISI on 2013-05-13 20:54:00

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    Cited by:

    1. Daniel Jones & Sera Linardi, 2014. "Wallflowers: Experimental Evidence of an Aversion to Standing Out," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 60(7), pages 1757-1771, July.
    2. Gavrilova, Evelina & Campaniello, Nadia, 2015. "Uncovering the Gender Participation Gap in the Crime Market," IZA Discussion Papers 8982, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Theft; Corruption; Social Enforcement; Culture; Experiments;

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General

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