Normative expectations and subjective beliefs: an incentivised experimental study

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Wang, Cuizhu
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University College Cork
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This thesis is an experimental study to investigate the operationalisability of the theory of social norms provided by Cristina Bicchieri. In Chapter 1 I critically summarise a main theme from recent literature and distinguish the accounts of norms based on social preferences from accounts based on social structure. I also summarise different theorists’ accounts of social norms as a social construct, in addition to surveying some issues scholars have raised empirically. Chapter 2 reviews the conceptual analysis of social norms by Bicchieri as a social structure based account. Bicchieri’s conceptual analysis introduces three kinds of condition for norm identification. I review these in detail, and suggest hypothesis testing corresponding to each kind of condition. Chapter 2 briefly analyses a critical problem for Bicchieri’s theory. Chapter 3 provides philosophical background that supports the intentional concepts applied in Bicchieri’s analysis of social norms. I suggest that the Dennettian account of Intentional Stance is the best philosophical framework for Bicchieri’s account of social norms. I also argue that Revealed Preference Theory from economics is an application of the Intentional Stance. I conjecture that adopting the Intentional Stance and applying Revealed Preference Theory to empirical data can allow for improved operationalisation of Bicchieri’s conceptual analysis. In Chapter 4 I provide critical review of some key experimental work by Bicchieri and co-authors applying her conceptual analysis of social norms. I then provide a critical review of a widely used toolbox from the current economic literature for norm elicitation. Then I introduce a more rigorous experimental protocol for investigating social norms understood following Bicchieri’s analysis. The toolbox suggested in my thesis addresses limitations identified in Bicchieri’s empirical work. Chapter 5 presents design of the experiment administered as the core element of the thesis. Chapter 6 shows and analyses the results from the experiments described in Chapter 5. It also introduces the statistical models used in my thesis to assess the extent to which Bicchieri’s analyses successfully guides experimental identification of social norms. Chapter 7 offers concluding theoretical reflections, and discusses possible extensions of the research presented in this thesis.
Social norms , Social coordination , Behavioural economics , Incentivised experiments , Laboratory games
Wang, C. 2022. Normative expectations and subjective beliefs: an incentivised experimental study. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.