Social Proximity and the Erosion of Norm Compliance
91 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2021 Last revised: 7 Dec 2021
Date Written: December 6, 2021
We study how compliance with norms of pro-social behavior is influenced by peers' compliance in a dynamic and non-strategic experimental setting. We show that social proximity among peers is a crucial determinant of the effect. Without social proximity, norm compliance erodes swiftly because participants only conform to observed norm violations while ignoring norm compliance. With social proximity, participants conform to both types of observed behaviors, thus halting the erosion of compliance. Our findings stress the importance of the broader social context for norm compliance and show that, even in the absence of social sanctions, norm compliance can be sustained in repeated interactions, provided there is group identification, as is the case in many natural and online environments.
Keywords: Norm Compliance, Social Norms, Social Proximity
JEL Classification: C92, D64, D9
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation