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An Experimental Investigation of Social Norms

Several economists have maintained that social and internalized norms can enforce cooperation in public good situations. This experimental study investigates impacts of social and internalized norms for cooperation among strangers in a public good game. The experiment has two treatment effects. First, it reveals each person's identity and his contribution to the public good. Second, it presents the public good game in a language which suggests associations to social and internalized norms for cooperation. Both treatment effects increase voluntary contributions significantly. These results suggest two important policy tools to crowd in social and internalized norms in a public good situation.

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Paper provided by Statistics Norway, Research Department in its series Discussion Papers with number 310.

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Date of creation: Oct 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ssb:dispap:310
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  1. Park, Eun-Soo, 2000. "Warm-glow versus cold-prickle: a further experimental study of framing effects on free-riding," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 43(4), pages 405-421, December.
  2. Sonnemans, Joep & Schram, Arthur & Offerman, Theo, 1998. "Public good provision and public bad prevention: The effect of framing," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 143-161, January.
  3. George A. Akerlof, 1980. "A Theory of Social Custom, of which Unemployment may be One Consequence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 94(4), pages 749-775.
  4. Lindbeck, Assar, 1997. "Incentives and Social Norms in Household Behavior," Seminar Papers 622, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  5. James Andreoni, 1994. "Warm-Glow versus Cold-Prickle: The Effects of Positive and Negative Framing on Cooperation in Experiments," Experimental 9410002, EconWPA.
  6. Lindbeck, Assar & Nyberg, Sten & Weibull, Jörgen W., 1997. "Social Norms, the Welfare State, and Voting," Seminar Papers 608, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  7. Colin Camerer & Ernst Fehr, 2003. "Measuring social norms and preferences using experimental games: A guide for social scientists," Levine's Working Paper Archive 506439000000000501, David K. Levine.
  8. Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 1999. "Collective action as a social exchange," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 341-369, July.
  9. Elliott, Catherine S. & Hayward, Donald M. & Canon, Sebastian, 1998. "Institutional framing: Some experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 455-464, May.
  10. R. Cookson, 2000. "Framing Effects in Public Goods Experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 3(1), pages 55-79, June.
  11. Palfrey, Thomas R & Prisbrey, Jeffrey E, 1997. "Anomalous Behavior in Public Goods Experiments: How Much and Why?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 829-46, December.
  12. James Andreoni, 2001. "Giving According to GARP," Theory workshop papers 339, UCLA Department of Economics.
  13. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-77, June.
  14. Lindbeck, Assar & Snower, Dennis J, 1988. "Cooperation, Harassment, and Involuntary Unemployment: An Insider-Outsider Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(1), pages 167-88, March.
  15. Elster, Jon, 1989. "Social Norms and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 99-117, Fall.
  16. Bohnet, Iris & Frey, Bruno S., 1999. "The sound of silence in prisoner's dilemma and dictator games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 43-57, January.
  17. George Loewenstein, 2000. "Emotions in Economic Theory and Economic Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 426-432, May.
  18. Hollander, Heinz, 1990. "A Social Exchange Approach to Voluntary Cooperation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(5), pages 1157-67, December.
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