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Social norms and human cooperation

Author

Listed:
  • Ernst Fehr

    (University of Zurich & CEPR)

  • Urs Fischbacher

    (University of Zurich)

Abstract

The existence of social norms is one of the big unsolved problems in social cognitive science. Although no other concept is invoked more frequently in the social sciences, we still know little about how social norms are formed, the forces determining their content, and the cognitive and emotional requirements that enable a species to establish and enforce social norms. In recent years, there has been substantial progress, however, on how cooperation norms are enforced. Here we review evidence showing that sanctions are decisive for norm enforcement, and that they are largely driven by nonselfish motives. Moreover, the explicit study of sanctioning behavior provides instruments for measuring social norms and has also led to deeper insights into the proximate and ultimate forces behind human cooperation.

Suggested Citation

  • Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, 2004. "Social norms and human cooperation," Macroeconomics 0409026, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:0409026
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social Norms; Cooperation; Punishment; Reciprocity;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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