nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2011‒06‒18
seven papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini

  1. Surfing Alone? The Internet and Social Capital: Evidence from an Unforeseeable Technological Mistake By Bauernschuster, Stefan; Falck, Oliver; Woessmann, Ludger
  2. Singing the Gospel, Forging the Ties That Bind? Ethnographic Study of a Youth Gospel Choir By Allison Schnable
  3. Size matters - when it comes to lies By Gerald Eisenkopf; Ruslan Gurtoviy; Verena Utikal
  4. The coordination value of monetary exchange: Experimental evidence By G. Camera; M. Casari
  5. Alliance Formation and Coercion in Networks By Timo Hiller
  6. Fairness and Cheating By Daniel Houser; Stefan Vetter; Joachim Winter
  7. On the Nature of Reciprocity: Evidence from the Ultimatum Reciprocity Measure By Andreas Nicklisch; Irenaeus Wolff

  1. By: Bauernschuster, Stefan (Ifo Institute for Economic Research); Falck, Oliver (Ifo Institute for Economic Research); Woessmann, Ludger (Ifo Institute for Economic Research)
    Abstract: Does the Internet undermine social capital or facilitate inter-personal and civic engagement in the real world? Merging unique telecommunication data with geo-coded German individual-level data, we investigate how broadband Internet affects several dimensions of social capital. One identification strategy uses panel information to estimate value-added models. A second exploits a quasi-experiment in East Germany created by a mistaken technology choice of the state-owned telecommunication provider in the 1990s that still hinders broadband Internet access for many households. We find no evidence that the Internet reduces social capital. For some measures including children's social activities, we even find significant positive effects.
    Keywords: social capital, Internet
    JEL: Z13 J24
    Date: 2011–05
  2. By: Allison Schnable (Princeton University)
    Abstract: How do religious practices forge meaningful social bonds? Building on the provocative claim (Putnam and Campbell 2010) about religious social ties leading to better citizenship, I analyze one of the most common American religious practices choral singing to explore how ties are formed. An ethnographic study of a youth gospel choir reveals that the collective emotional experience of making music, the shared understandings of religious narratives in songs‘ lyrics, the ritual of performance in church services, and repeated co-presence in the sacred space of the church building create strong bonds among church members. Gospel choir singing binds youth to the organization of the church and symbolically to the local and global black community.
    Keywords: choral singing, choirs, African American churches, Trenton, music, religion
    JEL: D19 D63 Z10 Z11
    Date: 2011–06
  3. By: Gerald Eisenkopf; Ruslan Gurtoviy; Verena Utikal
    Abstract: A small lie appears trivial but it obviously violates moral commandments. We analyze whether the preference for others’ truth telling is absolute or depends on the size of a lie. In a laboratory experiment we compare punishment for different sizes of lies controlling for the resulting economic harm. We find that people are sensitive to the size of a lie and that this behavioral pattern is driven by honest people. People who lie themselves punish softly in any context.
    Keywords: Lying, norm violation, punishment, experiment
    Date: 2011
  4. By: G. Camera; M. Casari
    Abstract: Under what conditions can cooperation be sustained in a network of strangers? Here we study the role of institutions and uncover a new behavioral foundation for the use of monetary systems. In an experiment, anonymous subjects could cooperate or defect in bilateral random encounters. This sequence of encounters was indefinite; hence multiple equilibria were possible, including full intertemporal cooperation supported by a social norm based on community punishment of defectors. We report that such social norm did not emerge. Instead, the availability of intrinsically worthless tokens favored the coordination on intertemporal cooperation in ways that networks of strangers were unable to achieve through social norms.
    JEL: C90 C70 D80
    Date: 2011–05
  5. By: Timo Hiller (European University Institute)
    Abstract: This paper presents a game-theoretic model of network formation, which allows agents to enter bilateral alliances and to extract payoffs from enemies. Each pair of agents creates a surplus of one, which allies divide in equal parts. If agents are enemies, then the agent with more allies obtains a larger share of the surplus. I show that Nash equilibria are of two types. First, a state of utopia, where all agents are allies. Second, asymmetric equilibria, such that agents can be partitioned into sets of different size, where agents within the same set are allies and agents in different sets are enemies. These results stand in contrast to coalition formation games in the economics of conflict literature, where stable group structures are generally symmetric. The model provides a game-theoretic foundation for structural balance, a long- standing notion in social psychology, which has been fruitfully applied to the study of alliance formation in international relations.
    Keywords: Network Formation, Economics of Conflict, Contest Success Function, Structural Balance, International Relations
    JEL: D86 D74
    Date: 2011–06
  6. By: Daniel Houser (Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science and Department of Economics, George Mason University); Stefan Vetter (University of Munich); Joachim Winter (University of Munich)
    Abstract: We present evidence from a laboratory experiment showing that individuals who believe they were treated unfairly in an interaction with another person are more likely to cheat in a subsequent unrelated game. Specifically, subjects first participated in a dictator game. They then flipped a coin in private and reported the outcome. Subjects could increase their total payoff by cheating, i.e., lying about the outcome of the coin toss. We found that subjects were more likely to cheat in reporting the outcome of the coin flip when: 1) they received either nothing or a very small transfer from the dictator; and 2) they claimed to have been treated unfairly.
    Keywords: cheating, fairness, experimental design
    JEL: C91 D63
    Date: 2011–01
  7. By: Andreas Nicklisch; Irenaeus Wolff
    Abstract: We experimentally show that current models of reciprocity are in- complete in a systematic way using a new variant of the ultimatum game that provides second-movers with a marginal-cost-free punish- ment option. For a substantial proportion of the population, the de- gree of rst-mover unkindness determines the severity of punishment actions even when marginal costs are absent. The proportion of these subjects strongly depends on a treatment variation: higher xed costs of punishment lead to harsher responses. The fractions of purely self- ish and inequity-averse participants are small and stable. Among the variety of reciprocity models, only one accommodates (rather than predicts) parts of our ndings. The treatment e ect is unaccounted for. We discuss ways of incorporating our ndings into the existing models.
    Keywords: Distributional fairness, experiments, intention-based fair- ness, reciprocity, ultimatum bargaining
    Date: 2011

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