The Double Nature of Conventions - An Experimental Analysis
This paper aims to integrate both economic and sociological notions of conventions in a single analytical framework. To this end, it starts by distinguishing conceptually between behavioral convention, i.e. an arbitrary but stable social regularity, and normative convention, i.e. a principle of action prescribing how to behave in a certain class of situations. A game theoretical framework to represent the interrelation between both concepts is then introduced. Finally, this relation is studied experimentally. The main results of the experiment are: (1) normative conventions have to be commonly known and accepted among subjects in order to work as guides to coordinate on behavioral conventions; (2) once subjects follow a normative convention they are highly consistent with it in a repeated environment; (3) efficiency concerns are focal in the class of games studied in this paper.
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