The Evolution of Norms1

  title={The Evolution of Norms1},
  author={Jonathan Bendor and Piotr Swistak},
  journal={American Journal of Sociology},
  pages={1493 - 1545}
Social norms that induce us to reward or punish people not for what they did to us but for what they did to other members of one’s group have long been thought as sine qua non sociological and thus impossible to explain in terms of rational choice. This article shows how social norms can be deductively derived from principles of (boundedly) rational choice as mechanisms that are necessary to stabilize behaviors in a large class of evolutionary games. 

The emergence of altruism as a social norm

The results point to social norms being on the basis of the generous behavior observed in the DG and also to the wide applicability of reinforcement learning to explain many strategic interactions.

Evolutionary stability of discriminating social norms

The paper presents an evolutionary model illustrating the dynamics that give rise to discriminatory social norms i.e. such rules of behaviour that fulfil two conditions: (1) they treat differently

Social and Moral Norms in Allocation Choices in the Laboratory

Social norms involve observation by others and external sanctions for violations, while moral norms involve introspection and internal sanctions. To study such norms and their effects, we design a

Social and Moral Norms in the Laboratory

Social norms involve observation by others and external sanctions for violations, while moral norms involve introspection and internal sanctions. We develop a simple model of individual preferences

The market for social norms

This article presents a semirigorous model in which a new norm arises out of the workings of a market for norms. Change is triggered by a shift in either cost-benefit conditions or group composition.

The Motivating Power of Expectations

In this paper, I sketch a theory of ‘normative expectations’ which is intended to explain a continuum of social practices. These range from Nash equilibria (with self-interested preferences) to

What norms trigger punishment?

Many experiments have demonstrated the power of norm enforcement—peer monitoring and punishment—to maintain, or even increase, contributions in social dilemma settings, but little is known about the

Inducing Social Norms in Laboratory Allocation Choices

This work examines dictator choices, where a shared understanding is created by providing advice from peers with no financial payoff at stake, and finds that choices are in fact affected by a combination of observability and shared understanding.

Conditions for the Emergence of Shared Norms in Populations with Incompatible Preferences

Pressuring others to perform the same public behavior as oneself is more effective in promoting norms than pressuring others to meet one’s own private preference, and it is shown that adaptive group pressure exerted by randomly occuring, local majorities may create norms under conditions where different behaviors would normally coexist.



An Evolutionary Approach to Norms

  • R. Axelrod
  • Economics
    American Political Science Review
  • 1986
Norms provide a powerful mechanism for regulating conflict in groups, even when there are more than two people and no central authority. This paper investigates the emergence and stability of

The evolutionary emergence of norms

Norms may emerge in a variety of ways: institutions may prescribe behaviours (institutional norm formation), they may be created by a social contract (voluntary norm formation) or they may gradually

Collective Sanctions and the Creation of Prisoner's Dilemma Norms

Social psychologists, sociologists, and economists have all proposed theories of norm emergence. In general, they views norm emergence as depending on three factors: (i) actors' preferences regarding

The Emergence Of Norms

Edna Ullmann-Margalit provides an original account of the emergence of norms. Her main thesis is that certain types of norms are possible solutions to problems posed by certain types of social

Rewards and Punishments as Selective Incentives for Collective Action: Theoretical Investigations

  • P. Oliver
  • Economics
    American Journal of Sociology
  • 1980
Positive and negative selective incentives are shown analytically to have different structural implications when used to induce collective action. Positive selective incentives are effective for

The Optimal Level of Generosity in a Selfish, Uncertain Environment

The tit-for-tat strategy in iterated prisoners' dilemma games is examined in the presence of disturbances. It is shown that performance deteriorates drastically at arbitrarily low noise levels. The

No pure strategy is evolutionarily stable in the repeated Prisoner's Dilemma game

It is argued that no pure strategy can be evolutionarily stable in the repeated Prisoner's Dilemma game, which casts doubt on several of Axelrod's conclusions about the evolution of reciprocity.

Collective Sanctions and Compliance Norms: A Formal Theory of Group-Mediated Social Control

The link between external sanctions and intragroup normative control is examined to distinguish the conditions under which the two control systems augment or weaken one another. I construct a dynamic

The Evolutionary Stability of Cooperation

Is cooperation without central authority stable? If so, how robust is it? Despite what might be the conventional wisdom, The Evolution of Cooperation did not solve this problem deductively. In fact,

Stochastic strategies in the Prisoner's Dilemma