Former Research Group “Mechanisms of Normative Change”
We were a team of interdisciplinary researchers, with backgrounds in sociology, economics, social cognition, and psychology. The group aimed to further the understanding of the underlying mechanisms of social norms and the conditions under which they change. We studied social norms, and the problem of conflict and cooperation in modern societies more generally, both from a basic and an applied perspective. Typical questions were: Why are many norms so persistent, even when a large majority of the population would prefer not to have them? Which mechanisms, for instance, stabilized the existence of foot binding in China? What impact does immigration have on the functioning of receiving societies? How could we prevent the spread of inappropriate behavior in social networks such as schools or Facebook? Under which conditions does normative conflict emerge, and can it eventually be resolved? We tried to understand the underlying mechanisms on a theoretical basis, using tools such as game theory or agent-based models. Empirical strategies involved, but were not limited to, web-based and lab-based experimental methods, social network analysis, and the analysis of big data.