Brown Bag Seminar

May 27 2016 (14:00 – 16:00) Rustam ROMANIUC, Anthropo-Lab : Do the right thing: but for how long?

Social norms are a key element of many behavior change interventions (e.g. safe driving, recycling, preventing excessive alcohol use). The social norms literature generally suggests that two types of norms constitute the driving force of behavior change: descriptive and injunctive norms. Descriptive norms refer to situations when people look up at what others do. It has been shown that people value conformity with how others behave. Injunctive norms refer to situations when people believe they are expected to behave in a certain way or else they will be the target of social disapproval. While recent experimental studies found that descriptive and injunctive norms play a central role in encouraging giving behavior in one-shot dictator games (Cason & Mui 1998, Bicchieri & Xiao 2009, Krupka & Weber 2009, Raihani & McAuliffe 2014), such evidence is lacking when it comes to explaining giving behavior over time. The first question we raise is whether the effect of descriptive and injunctive norms lasts for more than one period. We use a repeated (10 rounds) dictator game to answer this first question. Then, as a related point, we raise a second question: how descriptive and injunctive norms affect behavior when time elapses between observing the norm and engaging in the targeted behavior? To answer this question, we introduce a distraction task (the slider task) after subjects have been communicated a norm (descriptive or injunctive) but before they play the game to which the norm applies. Our preliminary results suggest that the effect of norms on behavior may not be as robust as the existing literature suggests.