Time lag and communication in changing unpopular norms
Title: Time lag and communication in changing unpopular norms
Citation: PLoS ONE, 2015, Vol. 10, e0124715
ISSN: 1932-6203; 1932-6203
Humans often coordinate their social lives through norms. When a large majority of people are dissatisfied with an existing norm, it seems obvious that they will change it. Often, however, this does not occur. We investigate how a time lag between individual support of a norm change and the change itself hinders such change, related to the critical mass of supporters needed to effectuate the change, and the (im)possibility of communicating about it. To isolate these factors, we utilize a laboratory experiment. As predicted, we find unambiguous effects of time lag on precluding norm change; a higher threshold for a critical mass does so as well. Communication facilitates choosing superior norms but it does not necessarily lead to norm change when the uncertainty on whether there will be a norm change in the future is high. Communication seems to help coordination on actions at the present but not the future. Hence, the uncertainty driven by time lag makes individuals choose the status quo, here the unpopular norm.
Published: April 16, 2015
Type of Access: openAccess
Files in this item
- Full-text in Open Access, Published ...