Seminar in Public Economic - Social Norms and Dishonesty across Societies

Monday, 15. April 2019
17.00 – 18.30



Diego Aycinena Abascal (Universidad del Rosario - Bogotá)

Social Norms and Dishonesty across Societies

with Benjamin Beranek, Lucas Rentschler and Jonathan Schulz


Social norms are a fundamental underpinning of institutions. In this study, we investigate the role of social norms regarding cheating behavior across societies. We use experimental methods to examine normative expectations or perceptions of injunctive norms (subjects’ shared beliefs on the social acceptability of behavior) and empirical expectations or perception of descriptive norms (subjects’ beliefs about others’ behavior). We run these tasks with over 1,100 college students across 11 subject pools in 10 countries (China, Colombia, Guatemala,  India, Kenya, Pakistan, Sweden, Turkey, UK, and USA)  that differ among several macro-level indicators such as the Corruption Perception Index, Rule of Law Index, etc.. Specifically, we focus on differences in the perception of appropriateness over the intensive margin of violations and whether this relates to differences in dishonest behavior. Using differences along this intensive margin of normative expectations, we classify subjects into different types of normative systems and explore the implication of differences in normative perception types on behavior. We find differences in dishonest behavior across societies and differences in beliefs about behavior (empirical expectations). We also find differences in normative expectations and distribution of types across societies, which are predictive of dishonest behavior.