nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2022‒02‒28
six papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Trust in the time of coronavirus: longitudinal evidence from the United States. By Aassve,Arnstein; Capezzone,Tommaso; Cavalli,Nicolo’; Conzo,Pierluigi; Peng,Chen
  2. A Country-Specific Analysis of Social Trust Formation: The Case of Ukraine By Tamilina, Larysa
  3. Strangers and Foreigners: Trust and Attitudes toward Citizenship By Bertocchi, Graziella; Dimico, Arcangelo; Tedeschi, Gian Luca
  4. In platforms we trust: misinformation on social networks in the presence of social mistrust By Charlson, G.
  5. Conforming with Peers in Honesty and Cooperation By Isler, Ozan; Gächter, Simon
  6. Collective Negative Shocks and Preferences for Redistribution: Evidence from the COVID-19 Crisis in Germany By Bellani, Luna; Fazio, Andrea; Scervini, Francesco

  1. By: Aassve,Arnstein; Capezzone,Tommaso; Cavalli,Nicolo’; Conzo,Pierluigi; Peng,Chen (University of Turin)
    Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed most countries to an unexpected crisis, with unclear consequences for citizens’ trust in others and in public authorities. This study shed lights on how social and political trust changed during the pandemic. We conducted a longitudinal survey in the US of about 1000 respondents at three points in time during the pandemic. We elicited respondents’ trust towards other people and towards different institutional authorities, along with attribution of responsibility for the current situation. Results show that institutional trust fell, while interpersonal trust slightly increased, especially during the peak of the first pandemic wave. This dynamic was mainly driven by Republicans, whose institutional trust decreased, especially when exposed to COVID-19, along with growth in social trust. Considering that Republicans attributed, at the time, more responsibilities to their political leader, we argue that institutional trust was crowded out by social trust. Disappointed voters felt unprotected by institutions and looked for support elsewhere in society. Consistent with this, though, in the reverse direction, experimental results from the third wave show that Republicans increased institutional trust. However, social trust fell when primed with positive information about the pandemic. Overall, these findings suggest that societal shocks may induce people to exchange formal with informal institutions as a coping strategy, with social and political trust moving in opposite directions.
    Date: 2022–01
  2. By: Tamilina, Larysa
    Abstract: While social trust is seen as an important factor for political, economic and social progress in the world, its country-specific mode of formation still remains under-researched. This study focuses on Ukraine as a primary subject of analysis and attempts to define major predictors that contribute to yielding or undermining trust levels in this country’s peculiar context. A special attention is paid to the impact that the recent war with Russia has conducted on the patterns of social trust building among the Ukrainian population. The analysis is based on applying a multilevel model to the World Values Survey (WVS) data from the pre-war and the in-war periods (2011 and 2020). The results are used to argue that the process of social trust emergence is largely influenced by political conditions in Ukraine and closely linked by the Ukrainians to the issues of national identity and liberal democracy.
    Keywords: social trust, Ukraine, democracy, military conflict, WVS
    JEL: P29 P4
    Date: 2022–01–01
  3. By: Bertocchi, Graziella; Dimico, Arcangelo; Tedeschi, Gian Luca
    Abstract: We analyze the relationship between natives' attitudes towards citizenship acquisition for foreigners and trust. Our hypothesis is that, in sub-Saharan Africa, the slave trade represents the deep factor behind contemporary attitudes toward citizenship, with more intense exposure to historical slave exports for an individual's ethnic group being associated with contemporary distrust for strangers, and in turn opposition to citizenship laws that favor the inclusion of foreigners. We find that individuals who are more trusting do show more positive attitudes towards the acquisition of citizenship at birth for children of foreigners, that these attitudes are also negatively related to the intensity of the slave trade, and that the underlying link between trust and the slave trade is confirmed. Alternative factors|con ict, kinship, and witchcraft beliefs-that, through trust, may affect attitudes toward citizenship, are not generating the same distinctive pattern of linkages emerging from the slave trade.
    Keywords: Citizenship,Trust,Slave Trade,Migration,Ethnicity,Conflict,Kinship,Witchcraft
    JEL: J15 K37 N57 O15 Z13
    Date: 2022
  4. By: Charlson, G.
    Abstract: We examine the effect social mistrust has on the propagation of misinformation on a social network. Agents communicate with each other and observe information sources, changing their opinion with some probability determined by their social trust, which can be low or high. Low social trust agents are less likely to be convinced out of their opinion by their peers and, in line with recent empirical literature, are more likely to observe misinformative information sources. A platform facilitates the creation of a homophilic network where users are more likely to connect with agents of the same level of social trust and the same social characteristics. Networks in which worldview is relatively important in determining network structure have more pronounced echo chambers, reducing the extent to which high and low social trust agents interact. Due to the asymmetric nature of these interactions, echo chambers then decrease the probability that agents believe misinformation. At the same time, they increase polarisation, as disagreeing agents interact less frequently, leading to a trade-off which has implications for the optimal intervention of a platform wishing to reduce misinformation. We characterise this intervention by delineating the most effective change in the platform's algorithm, which for peer-to-peer connections involves reducing the extent to which relatively isolated high and low social trust agents interact with one another.
    Keywords: communication, misinformation, network design, platforms
    JEL: D82 D83 D85
    Date: 2022–01–14
  5. By: Isler, Ozan (Queensland University of Technology); Gächter, Simon (University of Nottingham)
    Abstract: Peer observation can influence social norm perceptions as well as behavior in various moral domains, but is the tendency to be influenced by and conform with peers domain-general? In an online experiment (N = 815), we studied peer effects in honesty and cooperation and tested the individual-level links between these two moral domains. Participants completed both honesty and cooperation tasks after observing their peers. Consistent with the literature, separate analysis of the two domains indicated both negative and positive peer influences in honesty and in cooperation, with negative influences tending to be stronger. Behavioral tests linking the two domains at the individual-level revealed that cooperative participants were also more honest—a link that was associated with low Machiavellianism scores. While standard personality trait measures showed no links between the two domains in the tendency to conform, individual-level tests suggested that conformism is a domain-general behavioral trait observed across honesty and cooperation. Based on these findings, we discuss the potential of and difficulties in using peer observation to influence social norm compliance as an avenue for further research and as a tool to promote social welfare.
    Keywords: conformism, peer influence, cooperation, honesty, social norms
    JEL: C91 J16
    Date: 2021–12
  6. By: Bellani, Luna (University of Konstanz); Fazio, Andrea (Sapienza University of Rome); Scervini, Francesco (Istituto Universitario di Studi Superiori di Pavia (IUSS))
    Abstract: Using new data from a three-wave panel survey administered in Germany between May 2020 and May 2021, this paper studies the impact of a negative shock affecting every strata of the population, such as the development of COVID-19, on preferences for redistribution. Exploiting the plausibly exogenous change in severity of the infection rate at the county level, we show that, contrary to some theoretical expectations, the worse the crisis, the lower the support for redistribution of our respondents. We provide further suggestive evidence that this is not driven by a decrease in inequality aversion, but this might be the result of a decrease in trust in the institutions who are in charge of redistributive policies.
    Keywords: preference for redistribution, inequality aversion, COVID-19
    JEL: D31 D63 D72
    Date: 2021–12

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