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On the Emergence of Social Conformity


  • Edward Cartwright



We consider a dynamic model of conformity that permits both a conformist and a non-conformist equilibrium. We provide conditions under which conformity can 'invade' a population. More precisely, starting from a non-conformist equilibrium, we show that the conformity of an arbitrarily small proportion of the popultion can lead to the spread of conformism and the ultimate emergence of the conformist equilibrium. This occurs independently of whether or not the non-conformist equilibrium Pareto dominates the conformist equilibrium.

Suggested Citation

  • Edward Cartwright, 2005. "On the Emergence of Social Conformity," Studies in Economics 0501, School of Economics, University of Kent.
  • Handle: RePEc:ukc:ukcedp:0501

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fudenberg, Drew & Levine, David, 1998. "Learning in games," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 631-639, May.
    2. Young, H Peyton, 1993. "The Evolution of Conventions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(1), pages 57-84, January.
    3. Shiller, Robert J, 1995. "Conversation, Information, and Herd Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 181-185, May.
    4. Bikhchandani, Sushil & Hirshleifer, David & Welch, Ivo, 1992. "A Theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom, and Cultural Change in Informational Cascades," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 992-1026, October.
    5. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1994. "A Theory of Conformity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 841-877, October.
    6. Drew Fudenberg & Jean Tirole, 1991. "Game Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262061414, July.
    7. 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.
    8. Elster, Jon, 1989. "Social Norms and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 99-117, Fall.
    9. Lindbeck, Assar, 1997. "Incentives and Social Norms in Household Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 370-377, May.
    10. Jon Elster, 1998. "Emotions and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 47-74, March.
    11. Juang, Wei-Torng, 2001. "Learning from Popularity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(3), pages 735-747, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Michael C Burda & Daniel S Hamermesh & Philippe Weil, 2008. "Total Work, Gender and Social Norms in EU and US Time Use," Post-Print hal-00972821, HAL.
    2. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/8642 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Michael C Burda & Philippe Weil, 2008. "Different but Equal: Total Work, Gender and Social Norms in EU and US Time Use," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/8642, Sciences Po.

    More about this item


    Conformity; best reply; coordination; norm.;

    JEL classification:

    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games

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