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Does Social Judgement Diminish Rule Breaking?

  • Timothy C. Salmon
  • Danila Serra

We experimentally investigate the extent to which social obervability 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 bfeaking scenarios - theft, bribery and embezzlement - in the absence of any formal enforcement mechanism.� By involving a student sample characterized by cultural heterogeneity due to immigraiton 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 dientify 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

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Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number WPS/2013-05.

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Date of creation: 15 Mar 2013
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:wps/2013-05
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