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When within- and outgroup norms conflict: A public good experiment with strategic ignorance of social norms

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  • Serhiy Kandul
  • Bruno Lanz

Abstract

Social norm feedback, i.e. informing people about the behavior of others, has been shown to influence prosocial behavior in many domains, including tax compliance and energy conservation. We introduce social norm feedback in a public good setting and study the interplay between payoff-relevant within-group norms and payoff-irrelevant outgroup norms. We show that conflict between within- and outgroup norms dampens within-group conditional cooperation. Further, participants strategically ignore outgroup norms when these go against self-interest, instead consulting norm information that allows them reducing their contributions. On aggregate, such information acquisition/avoidance strategy favors exposition to norms that hastens the breakdown of cooperation. Finally, norm avoidance is higher when feedback is based on individual rather than group-level comparisons, which is consistent with a self-image cost associated with social norm feedback.

Suggested Citation

  • Serhiy Kandul & Bruno Lanz, 2018. "When within- and outgroup norms conflict: A public good experiment with strategic ignorance of social norms," IRENE Working Papers 18-06, IRENE Institute of Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:irn:wpaper:18-06
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social norms; deliberate ignorance; public good game; self-image; prosocial behavior; externalities;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices

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