Why people follow rules

  • Date: Sep 26, 2022
  • Time: 04:00 PM (Local Time Germany)
  • Speaker: Simon Gächter (University of Nottingham)
  • Location: MPI
  • Room: Ground Floor

Rule following is fundamental to human life. However, why people follow rules is poorly understood. Here, we develop a framework that integrates individualistic and social motives of rule following. We design a minimalist rule following task and deploy it in three series of experiments (n=14,034). Despite incentives for rule-breaking, we find a high rate of rule following and show it depends on normative and empirical expectations about others’ compliance. Testing the causal predictions of our framework reveals that observing non-compliance reduces own compliance; disobeyed rules lose their normative appeal. Punishment of rule violations boosts compliance and increases empirical expectations that in turn promote compliance by reinforcing normative desirability of rule following. Our study helps explain why rules are followed and when compliance breaks down.

Go to Editor View