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What Determines the Enforcement of Newly Introduced Social Norms: Personality Traits or Economic Preferences? Evidence from the COVID-19 Crisis

Author

Listed:
  • Daniel Schunk

    (Johannes Gutenberg University)

  • Valentin Wagner

    (Johannes Gutenberg University)

Abstract

Social norms govern human behavior and usually change slowly over time. While individuals’ willingness to sanction others is decisive for the enforcement of social norms and thus social stability, little is known about individual sanctioning behavior related to newly introduced social norms. During the COVID-19 pandemic, governments have used various tools to rapidly and actively introduce the new norm of wearing a face mask; this offers a unique setting to study the determinants of individuals’ willingness to enforce a cooperation norm. In a nationwide online survey in Germany, we find that higher levels of conscientiousness and neuroticism, but none of the economic preferences (time and risk), are significantly and robustly associated with higher norm enforcement behavior. Furthermore, there is a strong relationship behavior between supervisors’ and their subordinates’ norm enforcement, and we observe that females sanction less harshly than men. Our results shed light on the origins of individual compliance with and enforcement of newly introduced public policy measures that are meant to increase solidarity via the explicit shaping of new cooperation norms.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Schunk & Valentin Wagner, 2020. "What Determines the Enforcement of Newly Introduced Social Norms: Personality Traits or Economic Preferences? Evidence from the COVID-19 Crisis," Working Papers 2024, Gutenberg School of Management and Economics, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz.
  • Handle: RePEc:jgu:wpaper:2024
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social norm enforcement; personality traits; risk and time preferences; COVID-19;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D90 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - General
    • H12 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Crisis Management
    • H40 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - General

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