nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2021‒09‒20
seven papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Prosociality Predicts Individual Behavior and Collective Outcomes in the COVID-19 Pandemic By Ximeng Fang; Timo Freyer; Chui Yee Ho; Zihua Chen; Lorenz Goette
  2. Does Whistleblowing on Tax Evaders Reduce Ingroup Cooperation? By Philipp Chapkovski; Luca Corazzini; Valeria Maggian
  3. Empowerment of social norms on water consumption By Pauline Pedehour; Lionel Richefort
  4. The legacy of violence: building or destroying trust? Evidence from Colombia's La Violencia By María Alejandra Chávez Báez
  5. Guess What …?—How Guessed Norms Nudge Climate-Friendly Food Choices in Real-Life Settings By Griesoph, Amelie; Hoffmann, Stefan; Merk, Christine; Rehdanz, Katrin; Schmidt, Ulrich
  6. Avoiding the Cost of your Conscience: Belief Dependent Preferences and Information Acquisition By Claire Rimbaud; Alice Soldà
  7. Troll Farms and Voter Disinformation By Denter, Philipp; Ginzburg, Boris

  1. By: Ximeng Fang; Timo Freyer; Chui Yee Ho; Zihua Chen; Lorenz Goette
    Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic induces a typical social dilemma situation, as engaging in preventive behaviors such as social distancing is costly for individuals, but generates benefits that accrue to society at large. The extent to which individuals internalize the social impact of their actions may depend on their (pro-)social preferences. We leverage a nationally representative survey in Germany (n = 5,843), conducted during the second coronavirus wave, to investigate the role of prosociality in reducing the spread of COVID-19. At the individual level, higher prosociality is strongly positively related to compliance with recommended public health behaviors. At the regional (NUTS-2) level, higher average prosociality is associated with significantly lower incidence and growth rates of COVID-19 infections. This association is robust to controlling for a host of regional socio-economic factors, and mediated by stronger average compliance with public health measures. Our correlational results thus confirm the notion that voluntary behavioral change due to prosocial motivations can play an important role in the pandemic.
    Keywords: COVID-19, collective action, prosociality, economic preferences, online survey
    JEL: D64 I12 I18 H41
    Date: 2021–09
  2. By: Philipp Chapkovski (National Research University Higher School of Economics, Russian Federation); Luca Corazzini (Department of Economics, University Of Venice CÃ Foscari); Valeria Maggian (Department of Economics, University Of Venice CÃ Foscari)
    Abstract: Whistleblowing is a powerful and rather inexpensive instrument to contrast tax evasion. Despite the deterrent effects on tax evasion, whistleblowing can reduce trust and undermine agents’ attitude to cooperate with group members. Yet, no study has investigated the potential spillover effects of whistleblowing on ingroup cooperation. This paper reports results of a laboratory experiment in which subjects participate in two consecutive phases in unchanging groups: a tax evasion game, followed by a generalized gift exchange game. Two dimensions are manipulated in our experiment: the inclusion of a whistleblowing stage in which, after observing others’ declared incomes, subjects can signal other group members to the tax authority, and the provision of information about the content of the second phase before the tax evasion game is played. Our results show that whistleblowing is effective in both curbing tax evasion and improving the precision of tax auditing. Moreover, we detect no statistically significant spillover effects of whistleblowing on ingroup cooperation in the subsequent generalized gift exchange game, with this result being unaffected by the provision of information about the experimental task in the second phase. Finally, the provision of information does not significantly alter subjects’ (tax and whistleblowing) choices in the tax evasion game: thus, knowledge about perspective ingroup cooperation did not alter attitude towards whistleblowing.
    Keywords: Tax evasion, whistleblowing, ingroup cooperation, spillover effects, laboratory experiment
    JEL: H26 C90 D02
    Date: 2021
  3. By: Pauline Pedehour (Université de Nantes); Lionel Richefort (Université de Nantes)
    Abstract: This study develops a model of water extraction with endogenous social norms. Many users are connected by a unique shared resource that can become scarce in case of over-exploitation. Preferences of individuals are guided by their extraction values and their taste for conformity to social norms which provide incentives to follow others. As the main result of this study, the uniqueness of the Nash equilibrium is established under a sufficient condition. Afterward, some comparative statics analysis shows the effects of change in individual heterogeneous parameters, conformism, and density of the network on the global quantity extracted. Welfare and social optimum properties are established to avoid the tragedy of the commons and sub-optimal consumptions of water. Lastly, this theoretical framework is completed by extensions to highlight levers of water preservation, including the calibration of social norm incentives.
    Keywords: Comparative statics, Conformism, Nash equilibrium, Network, Social norms, Water extraction
    JEL: D04 D80 Q01 Q25
    Date: 2021–07
  4. By: María Alejandra Chávez Báez
    Abstract: This paper examines how trust on institutions and organizations are shaped according to age and exposure to violence during La Violencia. It also evaluates how people's actual trust on different groups (out-group trust) changes in municipalities that were exposed to violence in comparison to municipalities that were not exposed. From 1950's to the mid 1960's, Colombia experienced a period of intense civil wars and conflicts between social classes known as La Violencia. Using evidence on the index of violence built by Guzman et al. (2006) during this period and the Political Culture Survey of 2019, the main objective of this paper is to find whether people trust on State's institutions and people from different groups in municipalities that were mostly affected by violence. To complement the analysis, I analyzed press articles and news by the newspaper El Tiempo from 1950 to 1990 to find how is the perception of the State's legitimacy. After gathering information on 13,413 interviewees, I found that people who live during La Violencia trust less on government institutions and more on certain groups of people (neighbours). Moreover, people over 84 years-old living in municipalities that were exposed to La Violencia trust less on strangers and immigrants than younger people living in the same municipalities. These findings are supported in two mechanisms: deficient government-citizens relationship over time and risk aversion. That is, people who live in municipalities affected by violence during the bipartisan conflict are more risk averse and therefore show less trust on different groups of people. The revision of press articles suggest that there is a tendency of mistrust on State's actions, at least among high educated individuals.
    Keywords: mistrust, violence, institutions, political participation, out-group trust
    JEL: N30 N36 N46
    Date: 2021–09–01
  5. By: Griesoph, Amelie; Hoffmann, Stefan; Merk, Christine; Rehdanz, Katrin; Schmidt, Ulrich
    Abstract: Social norms, also called social comparison nudges, have been shown to be particularly effective in promoting healthy food choices and environmentally friendly behaviors. However, there is limited evidence on the effectiveness of these nudges for promoting sustainable and climate-friendly food choices and their potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support the related SDGs. The paper reports a field experiment that tests the effectiveness of two social norms in a real-life setting based on revealed preferences. The study distinguishes between the widely researched descriptive norms and guessed norms, the latter being tested in this context for the first time. While descriptive norms communicate typical patterns of behavior (e.g., 50% of canteen visitors choose vegetarian meals), guessed norms are determined by the individual’s best guess about the norm in a specific context. The results confirm a remarkable nudging effect of guessed norms: The higher the presumed proportion of vegetarian dishes sold, the lower the probability of choosing a vegetarian dish. Surprisingly, this effect is independent of the respective norm specification (meat or vegetarian norm). The paper provides advice for policy makers about when and how to use guessed norms.
    Keywords: climate-friendly behavior,field experiment,guessed norm,nudging,social norms
    Date: 2021
  6. By: Claire Rimbaud (GATE Lyon Saint-Étienne - Groupe d'analyse et de théorie économique - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - Université de Lyon - UJM - Université Jean Monnet [Saint-Étienne] - UCBL - Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 - Université de Lyon - UL2 - Université Lumière - Lyon 2 - ENS Lyon - École normale supérieure - Lyon); Alice Soldà (Heidelberg University)
    Abstract: Pro-social individuals face a trade-off between their monetary and moral motives. Hence, they may be tempted to exploit the uncertainty in their decision environment in order to reconcile this trade-off. In this paper, we investigate whether individuals with belief-dependent preferences avoid the monetary cost of behaving according to their moral standards by strategically acquiring information about others'expectations. We test the predictions of an information acquisition model in an online experiment. We use a modified trust-game in which we introduce uncertainty about the second movers' beliefs about first-movers' expectations. Our design enables to (i) identify participants with belief-based preferences and (ii) investigate their information acquisition strategy.Consistent with our predictions of subjective preferences, we find that most individuals classified as belief-dependent strategically select their source of information to avoid the cost of their conscience.
    Keywords: Belief-dependent preferences,illusory preferences,information acquisition,self-serving biases,experiment Belief-dependent preferences,experiment
    Date: 2021–08–25
  7. By: Denter, Philipp; Ginzburg, Boris
    Abstract: Political agents often attempt to influence elections through "troll farms" that flood social media platforms with messages from fake accounts that emulate genuine information. We study the ability of troll farms to manipulate elections. We show that such disinformation tactics is more effective when voters are otherwise well-informed. Thus, for example, societies with high-quality media are more vulnerable to electoral manipulation.
    Keywords: Fake News, Disinformation, Troll Farms, Elections, Social Media, Information Aggregation, Fact-Checking
    JEL: D72 D83
    Date: 2021–09–03

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