Norm conformity across societies

Moti Michaeli and Daniel Spiro


Photo: Elsevier

Published in:

Journal of Public Economics, Volume 132, p. 51-65, 2015

DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2015.09.003



This paper studies the aggregate distribution of declared opinions and behavior when heterogeneous individuals make the trade-off between being true to their private opinions and conforming to a social norm. The model sheds light on how various sanctioning regimes induce conformity and by whom, and on phenomena such as societal polarization and unimodal concentration. In strict societies, individuals will tend to either fully conform to the social norm or totally ignore it, while individuals in liberal societies will tend to compromise between these two extremes. Furthermore, the degree of strictness determines whether those who nearly agree with the norm or those who strongly disagree with it will conform. The degree of liberalism similarly determines which individuals will compromise the most. A number of empirical predictions, and several methods of how to test them, are suggested.


Published July 14, 2016 11:18 AM - Last modified July 14, 2016 11:18 AM