Teaching norms in the street

  • Date: Jan 8, 2020
  • Time: 05:00 PM (Local Time Germany)
  • Speaker: Marie-Claire Villeval
  • Gate Lyon
  • Location: MPI
  • Room: Ground Floor

We study parents' tendency to enforce a social norm in the presence and absence of a child in a natural, but controlled setting. Given the central role of both parental socialization efforts and norm-enforcement in guaranteeing the stability of social norms in society, parents play a vital role in transmitting norm compliance to the younger generation. We stage three scenes, including a norm violation, a helping opportunity, or both in the vicinity of public elementary schools. We vary whether the child is around or not and test whether parents are more likely to engage in (i) direct punishment, (ii) indirect punishment through withholding help, or (iii) helping behavior. We find that parents accompanying a child, in contrast to parents alone, are more likely to engage in direct punishment following a violation and are more likely to help in the absence of one. We do not find that parents withhold help significantly more often as a means of indirect punishment, even though the difference goes in the predicted direction. In order to explore the mechanism behind our results, we conduct a survey among parents not in our sample to elicit the social appropriateness of the violation and the subsequent helping behavior.

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