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Why do people follow social norms?


Gross, Jörg; Vostroknutov, Alexander (2022). Why do people follow social norms? Current Opinion in Psychology, 44:1-6.

Abstract

Norms prescribe how to make decisions in social situations and play a crucial role in sustaining cooperative relationships and coordinating collective action. However, following norms often requires restricting behavior, demanding to curtail selfishness, or suppressing personal goals. This raises the question why people adhere to norms. We review recent theories and empirical findings that aim at explaining why people follow norms even in private, when violations are difficult to detect and are not sanctioned. We discuss theories of norm internalization, social and self-image concerns, and social learning (i.e. preferences conditional on what others do/believe). Finally, we present two behavioral, incentivized tasks that can be used to elicit norms and measure the individual propensity to follow them.

Abstract

Norms prescribe how to make decisions in social situations and play a crucial role in sustaining cooperative relationships and coordinating collective action. However, following norms often requires restricting behavior, demanding to curtail selfishness, or suppressing personal goals. This raises the question why people adhere to norms. We review recent theories and empirical findings that aim at explaining why people follow norms even in private, when violations are difficult to detect and are not sanctioned. We discuss theories of norm internalization, social and self-image concerns, and social learning (i.e. preferences conditional on what others do/believe). Finally, we present two behavioral, incentivized tasks that can be used to elicit norms and measure the individual propensity to follow them.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > General Psychology
Language:English
Date:2022
Deposited On:17 Nov 2022 17:05
Last Modified:28 Mar 2024 02:39
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:2352-250X
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.copsyc.2021.08.016
PubMed ID:34520935
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)