Norm Change Under Collective Risk

From climate change and ecosystem and habitat destruction to the spread of infectious diseases such as COVID-19, many contemporary societal challenges are exacerbated by collective action problems. In these situations, groups would benefit from a shared outcome but the incentives available to individuals drive them to free ride. While laws, treaties and other formal institutions could in principle address these global issues and create cooperation, they are often unavailable, unenforceable, or insufficient and informal institutions, such as social norms become essential. Under the right conditions, poor and destructive norms may disappear and new norms may spontaneously emerge, which motivate people to act against their self-interest and cooperate for the good of the collective. Despite their importance, evidence on the causal effect of social norms in promoting cooperation in humans is still limited. In this talk, I will present work on the formation and change of social norms and their effect in promoting human cooperation. I will discuss results from recent laboratory experiments and agent based simulations showing that social norms are causal drivers of behavior and can explain cooperation-related regularities.

Giulia Andrighetto is a researcher at the Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies (ISTC) at the National Research Council of Italy, where she coordinates the Laboratory of Agent Based Social Simulation (LABSS). She is also a researcherat Mälardalen University, Västerås, Sweden.  Her research examines the nature and dynamics of social norms, namely how norms may emerge and become stable, why norms may suddenly change, how is it possible that inefficient or unpopular norms survive, and what motivates people to obey norms. In 2013, she was awarded the Ricercat@mente Prize for the best under 35 italian researcher in the field of social sciences & humanities by the National Research Council and the Accademia dei Lincei. In 2016, she was awarded a Wallenberg Academy Fellowship by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, Sweden.