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Norm from the top: a social norm nudge to promote low-practiced behaviors without boomerang effect

Alix Rouillé

Working Papers from HAL

Abstract: Social norms have proven to be a powerful nudge to make people adopt prosocial behavior. Informing people that most of their peers behave virtuously encourages them to improve their own behavior. However, since feedback is based on the average behavior of the population, the targeted desirable behavior must already be practiced by a majority of the population in order to avoid the boomerang effect. The boomerang effect is defined as a deterioration in attitude towards prosocial behavior. This deterioration is by the people who contributed to prosocial behavior more than the average; once they are informed about this, they modify their action accordingly. In this study, our purpose is to create a norm that can be implemented as nudges in behaviors where current social norm nudges are inefficient. This novel implementation could increase the range of prosocial behaviors that can be enhanced by social norm nudges. Within a nudge framework, we build a new norm that provides information based on the most altruistic people in the population. By having participants fill out additional surveys related to environmental topics, we found that this new norm, i.e., "Norm from the top", acted as an efficient nudge, increasing the average contribution to prosocial behavior. In contrast, the standard norm does not have a significant effect due to the boomerang effect. These results show the potential of applying the "Norm from the top" to promote low-practiced prosocial behaviors.

Keywords: Nudge; Prosocial behavior; Descriptive norms; Injunctive norm; Social norms (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2023-10-26
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-exp and nep-soc
Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://shs.hal.science/halshs-03673004v2
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