From the Center

Ongoing Projects include

Key Report, Guides and Manual Publications from the Center

More research and writing

Collective Action on Corruption in Nigeria: A Social Norms Approach to Connecting Society and Institutions

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This report aims to diagnose what drives corrupt behaviour in Nigeria, and the types of beliefs that support practices understood to be corrupt. Its findings are based largely on a national household survey jointly developed by the Chatham House Africa Programme and the University of Pennsylvania’s Social Norms Group (PennSONG), in collaboration with Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics as well as a network of academics and practitioners from Nigerian universities and NGOs. The findings present new evidence of the social beliefs and expectations that influence some day-today forms of corruption in Nigeria. Fuller details of the survey and associated research are given in the body of the report, as well as in the annex to the main text.

Shifting Social Norms to Mitigate Climate Change in the Anthropocene: A Review and Practical Guide

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In this upcoming publication we synthesize the literature on social norm creation, change, and measurement from the perspectives of psychology, anthropology, sociology, and economics, and discuss opportunities and challenges for the application of social norm interventions to promote climate action. We argue that social norm interventions aimed at climate action and/or other social dilemmas are promising but no panacea. They require in-depth contextual knowledge and a high degree of tailoring and problem-specific pre-testing before they can be effectively implemented at scale. Our review tries to provide policy makers with the insights and tools to do so.

Sustaining Safe Sanitation and Hygiene Practices through Enhanced Behavior Change Communication Models

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This report summarizes the pre-training preparatory field visit to Nambale and Nyando Districts that took place on November 29 and 30, and the training work done at the Morendat Training Centre in Naivasha from December 3 to December 6. The training revolved around Cristina Bicchieri’s account of social norms (cf. her The Grammar of Society, Cambridge University Press, 2005.) The main aim of the training was to show how the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach to eradicate open defecation and Social Norm Theory (SNT) can be readily harmonized and how elements of CLTS can be better understood when looked at through the lens of SNT.

In Science we (should) trust: expectations and compliance during the Covid-19 pandemic

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The magnitude and nature of the COVID-19 pandemic prevents public health policies from relying on coercive enforcement. Practicing social distancing, wearing masks and staying at home are voluntary and conditional on the behavior of others. We present the results of a large-scale survey experiment in nine countries with representative samples of the population. We find that both  empirical expectations (what others do) and normative expectations (what others approve of) play a significant role in compliance, beyond the effect of any other individual or group characteristic. Our results are driven by an asymmetric interaction with individuals’ trust in government and science.

The Role of Trendsetters in the Popularization and Adoption of the Swachh Bharat Mission

UNICEF Report

This UNICEF India report sheds light on whether (and to what degree) trendsetters were involved and may have influenced the social diffusion of Swachh Bharat Mission in India. Understanding who trendsetters are and how they can be motivated to act is an important step in building a comprehensive theory of social change. The present research is particularly important for India’s policy efforts post-ODF, as continuous support from stakeholders is necessary to sustain toilet use and maintenance.

Social Determinants of Open Defecation: Phase 1 Materials

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In the first phase of our study of the social determinants of open defecation in India, we have produced a report detailing how social networks influence latrine ownership. We also explore demographic predictors of ownership and use and how our findings differ from existing literature. We explore how these network data link to norms data in our Phase 2 report.

Social Determinants of Open Defecation: Phase 2 Materials

phase 2

In the second phase of our study of the social determinants of open defecation in India, we have produced a report detailing our diagnosis of a series of collective behaviors relevant to open defecation. We also describe patterns among our norms data to previously collected social network data. Furthermore, we track changes over time and other relevant patterns.

UNICEF-Mali: Normes sociales liées à Le mariage d’enfants

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This report aims to analyze social norms related to child marriage and the eating habits of children under the age of 2 in the Sikasso and Kayes regions. The results of the study will enable UNICEF to better inform its chapters and Mali to better understand the socio-cultural dynamics that hinder the change of gender in relation to child marriage, exclusive breastfeeding and complementary feeding.

Social Norms Manual: Zimbabwe and Swaziland

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A Social Norms Manual produced for Zimbabwe and Swaziland as part of the UNICEF Office of Research’s Multi-Country Study on the Drivers of Violence Affecting Children. This manual serves as a guide to key concepts in the social norms framework with examples pertaining to the countries and programming areas.

Social Norms Manual: Viet Nam, Indonesia and the Philippines

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Drawing on several intellectual traditions and methods, including those of social psychology, experimental economics and evolutionary game theory, Bicchieri provides an integrated account of how social norms emerge, why and when we follow them, and the situations where we are most likely to focus on relevant norms.

UNICEF Pakistan: WASH Sustainability Check

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This study focuses on Rural ODF Status (exclusive latrine use in ODF certified villages – behavioral sustainability) and continued functionality of RWSS (drinking water only) in the geographic region of two provinces in Pakistan, Sindh and Punjab. Our chief role was to develop, integrate and analyze social norms measures as part of the larger sustainability check. This report presents those methods, measures and findings.

Applying Social Norms Theory in CATS Programming

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The primary goal of this document is to provide the necessary information on the importance, nature and application of the theory of social norms to sanitation specialists. This document distills insights from joint collaborations with UNICEF, and aims to promote positive social change with regard to many harmful collective patterns of behavior related to sanitation.

more research and writing

Key Books and Reports

Norms in the Wild

in the wild

Is it possible to change social expectations around forced marriage, genital mutilations, and public health practices like vaccinations and sanitation? If so, how? What tools might we use? This short book explores how social norms work, and how changing them – changing preferences, beliefs, and especially social expectations – can potentially improve lives all around the world.

Grammar of Society

grammar of society

Drawing on several intellectual traditions and methods, including those of social psychology, experimental economics and evolutionary game theory, Bicchieri provides an integrated account of how social norms emerge, why and when we follow them, and the situations where we are most likely to focus on relevant norms.

Nadar en Contra de la Corriente

spanish translation

2019 Spanish translated version of Bicchieri’s Norms in the Wild (2016). A partir de una rigurosa investigación, Cristina Bicchieri ofrece en estas páginas elementos para entender cómo se relacionan las acciones individuales con los comportamientos grupales, y comprueba con evidencias que es posible transformar una sociedad a través de la educación y mediante las actuaciones individuales.

Collective Action on Corruption in Nigeria

nigeria

This report aims to diagnose what drives corrupt behavior in Nigeria, and the types of beliefs that support practices understood to be corrupt. The findings present new evidence of the social beliefs and expectations that influence some day-to-day forms of corruption in Nigeria. Fuller details of the survey and associated research are given in the body of the report, as well as in an annex.

more research and writing

Literature from the Center

Local determinants of driving behaviours: Installation Theory interventions to reduce fuel consumption among truck drivers in Colombia

Yamin, P., Lahlou, S., Ortega, S., & Skrickij, V. (2021). Local determinants of driving behaviours: Installation Theory interventions to reduce fuel consumption among truck drivers in Colombia. Transport, 35(6), 616-634. https://doi.org/10.3846/transport.2020.14195


Ethical challenges of using video for qualitative research and ethnography

Everri, M., Heitmayer, M., Yamin, P., Lahlou, S. (2020). Ethical challenges of using video for qualitative research and ethnography. In: Lähdesmäki, Tuuli, Koskinen-Koivisto, Eerika, Čeginskas, Viktorija L.A. and Koistinen, Aino-Kaisa, (eds.) Challenges and Solutions in Ethnographic Research: Ethnography with a Twist. Routledge, Abingdon, Oxon, pp. 68-83. ISBN 9780367376888. http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/106157


Using Social Norms to Change Behavior and Increase Sustainability in the Real World: a Systematic Review of the Literature. Sustainability

Yamin, P.; Fei, M.; Lahlou, S.; Levy, S. (2019). Using Social Norms to Change Behavior and Increase Sustainability in the Real World: a Systematic Review of the Literature. Sustainability, 11, 5847. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11205847


Bias in the perceived prevalence of open defecation: Evidence from Bihar, India

Kuang J, Thulin E, Ashraf S, Shpenev A, Das U, Delea MG, et al. (2020) Bias in the perceived prevalence of open defecation: Evidence from Bihar, India. PLoS ONE 15(9): e0238627. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0238627


Requiem for a Nudge: Framing Effects in Nudging Honesty

Dimant, E., van Kleef, G. A., & Shalvi, S. (2020). Requiem for a nudge: Framing effects in nudging honesty. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 172, 247-266.


Contagion of Pro- and Anti-Social Behavior Among Peers and the Role of Social Proximity

Dimant, E. (2019). Contagion of pro-and anti-social behavior among peers and the role of social proximity. Journal of Economic Psychology, 73, 66-88.


Observability, Social Proximity, and the Erosion of Norm Compliance (with C. Bicchieri, S. Gächter & D. Nosenzo), under review.

Bicchieri, Cristina and Dimant, Eugen and Gachter, Simon and Nosenzo, Daniele, Observability, Social Proximity, and the Erosion of Norm Compliance (March 23, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3355028


When a Nudge Backfires: Combining (Im)Plausible Deniability with Social and Economic Incentives to Promote Pro-Social Behavioral Change (with G. Bolton & U. Schmidt), under review.

Bolton, Gary and Dimant, Eugen and Schmidt, Ulrich, When a Nudge Backfires: Combining (Im)Plausible Deniability with Social and Economic Incentives to Promote Pro-Social Behavioral Change (March 26, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3294375


COVID-19 in India: Immense Role for HealthCare Field Workers

Ashraf, S. (2020, April 1). Retrieved from https://delhipostnews.com/covid-19-in-india-immense-role-for-healthcare-field-workers/


How Trendsetters Shaped India’s Massive Sanitation Campaign

Bicchieri, C., McNally, P., Ghai, S., & Patel, R. (2019, September 20). How Trendsetters Shaped India’s Massive Sanitation Campaign. Retrieved from https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/trendsetters-shaped-indias-massive-sanitation-campaign/.


Deviant or Wrong? The Effects of Norm Information on the Efficacy of Punishment

Bicchieri, C., Dimant, E., & Xiao, E. (forthcoming).


Female genital mutilation: Fundamentals, social expectations and change
Bicchieri, C. & Marini, A. (forthcoming).


Bad luck or bad intentions: When do third parties reveal offenders’ intentions to victims?

Hart, E., Mellers, B. A., & Bicchieri, C. (2019). Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.


Shrieking sirens: Schemata, scripts, and social norms: How change occurs

Bicchieri, C., & McNally, P. (2018). Social Philosophy and Policy, 35(1), 23-53.


Norms, conventions, and the power of expectation

Bicchieri, C. (2015). In N. Cartwright & E. Montuschi (Eds.), Philosophy of social science: A new introduction (pp. 208-232). Oxford: Oxford University Press.


On the emergence of descriptive norms

Muldoon, R., Lisciandra, C., Bicchieri, C., Hartmann, S., & Sprenger, J. (2014). Politics, Philosophy & Economics,13(1), 3-22. doi:10.1177/1470594X12447791


A social norms perspective on child marriage

Bicchieri, C., Lindemans, J.W., & Jiang, T. (2014). UNICEF.


Norm manipulation, norm evasion: experimental evidence

Bicchieri, C., & Chavez, A. K. (2013). Economics and Philosophy, 29(02), 175-198.


An Embarrassment of Riches: Modeling Social Preferences in Ultimatum Games

Bicchieri, C., & Zhang, J. (2012). In U. Maki (Ed.), Handbook of the Philosophy of Science: Philosophy of Economics. Elsevier.


Social Norms

Bicchieri, C. & Muldoon, R., (2011) The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy


Norms, preferences and conditional behavior

Bicchieri, C. (2010). Politics, Philosophy and Economics, 9(3), 297-313. doi: 10.1177/1470594X10369276


Women are more likely to expect social sanctions for open defecation: Evidence from Tamil Nadu India

Kuang J, Ashraf S, Shpenev A, Delea MG, Das U, Bicchieri C (2020) Women are more likely to expect social sanctions for open defecation: Evidence from Tamil Nadu India. PLoS ONE 15(10): e0240477. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0240477.


Awareness, risk perception, and stress during the COVID-19 pandemic in communities of Tamil Nadu, India.

Kuang J, Ashraf S, Das U, Bicchieri C. Awareness, Risk Perception, and Stress during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Communities of Tamil Nadu, India. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020; 17(19):7177. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17197177


Sanitation practices during early phases of COVID-19 lockdown in peri-urban communities in Tamil Nadu, India

Ashraf, S., Bicchieri, C., Das, U & Kuang, J. (2020, September 29). Sanitation practices during early phases of COVID-19 lockdown in peri-urban communities in Tamil Nadu, India. https://doi.org/10.4269/ajtmh.20-0830


Design and rationale of the Longitudinal Evaluation of Norms and Networks Study (LENNS): A cluster-randomized trial assessing the impact of a norms-centric intervention on exclusive toilet use and maintenance in peri-urban communities of Tamil Nadu

Ashraf, S., Bicchieri, C., Delea, M. G., Das, U., Chauhan, K., Kuang, J., … & Thulin, E. (2020). Design and rationale of the Longitudinal Evaluation of Norms and Networks Study (LENNS): A cluster-randomized trial assessing the impact of a norms-centric intervention on exclusive toilet use and maintenance in peri-urban communities of Tamil Nadu. medRxiv.


Perceptions of Autonomy, Inequality, and Fairness

Aldama, A., Bicchieri, C., Freundt, J., Mellers, B., & Peters, E. (2020). Perceptions of Autonomy, Inequality, and Fairness. Inequality, and Fairness (March 19, 2020).


Do descriptive norms messaging interventions backfire? Protocol for a systematic review of the boomerang effect

Kuang, Jinyi & Delea, Maryann & Thulin, Erik & Bicchieri, Cristina. (2020). Do descriptive norms messaging interventions backfire? Protocol for a systematic review of the boomerang effect. 10.21203/rs.3.rs-18161/v1.


COVID-19 and Toilet-use in India: Why Continued Attention is Needed?

Ashraf, S. (2020, April 27). Retrieved from https://delhipostnews.com/covid-19-and-toilet-use-in-india-why-continued-attention-is-needed/


Nudging with Care: The Risks and Benefits of Social Information

Bicchieri, C., & Dimant, E. (2019). Public Choice, forthcoming.


It’s Not A Lie If You Believe It: Lying and Belief Distortion Under Norm-Uncertainty

Bicchieri, C., Dimant, E., & Sonderegger, S. (forthcoming).


Norm Change: Trendsetters and Social Structure

Bicchieri, C & Funcke, A. (2018). Social Research: An International Quarterly, 85(1), 1-21.


Game-Theoretic Accounts of Social Norms: The Role of Normative Expectations

Bicchieri, C., & Sontuoso, A. (2017). In R. Croson, M. Capra, M. I. Rigdon, & T. Rosenblat (Eds)., Handbook of Experimental Game Theory. Edward Elgar Publishing.


Can trust facilitate bribery? Experimental evidence from China, Italy, Japan and the Netherlands

Bicchieri, C., Willem, J.W., & Jiang, T. (2015). Social Cognition, 5, 484-504.


Norms and beliefs: How change occurs.

Bicchieri, C. & Mercier H. (2014). In M. Xenitidou & B. Edmonds (Eds.) The complexity of social norms (pp. 37-54). New York, NY: Springer International Publishing.


A structured approach to a diagnostic of collective practices.

Bicchieri, C., Lindemans, J.W., & Jiang, T. (2014). Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 1418.


Is participation contagious? Evidence from a household vector control campaign in urban Peru.

Bicchieri, C. & Buttenheim, A. (2013). Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 68, 103-109.


Trustworthiness is a social norm, but trusting is not.

Bicchieri, C., Xiao, E., & Muldoon, R. (2011). Philosophy, Politics and Economics, 10(2), 170-187. doi:10.1177/1470594X10387260


Behaving as expected: Public information and fairness norms.

Bicchieri, C. & Chavez, A. (2010).Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 23(2), 161-178.


Do the right thing: but only if others do so.

Bicchieri, C. & Xiao, E. (2009). Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 22(2), 191-208.


more research and writing

Publications from Visiting Scholars and Affiliated Members

Good for You or Good for Us?: A Field Experiment on Motivating Citizen Behavior Change.

Bhanot, S.P. Good for You or Good for Us?: A Field Experiment on Motivating Citizen Behavior Change. Journal of Behavioral Public Administration. (Forthcoming).


 

Isolating the effect of injunctive norms on conservation behavior: New evidence from a field experiment in California

Bhanot, S. P. (2018). Isolating the effect of injunctive norms on conservation behavior: New evidence from a field experiment in California. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.


Why do so Few People Share Fake News? It Hurts Their Reputation

Altay, S., Hacquin, A., & Mercier, H. (2019, October 1). Why do so Few People Share Fake News? It Hurts Their Reputation. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444820969893


Framing messages for vaccination supporters

Altay, S., & Mercier, H. (2020). Framing messages for vaccination supporters. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 26(4), 567–578. https://doi.org/10.1037/xap0000271


The challenge of innovation pilots

Guillot, J., Christiansen, J., & Parra, J. (2019, March 6). The challenge of innovation pilots. Retrieved from https://states-of-change.org/stories/the-challenge-of-innovation-pilots


Human Punishment Behavior
Erte Xiao (2019) “Human Punishment Behavior”. Oxford Research Encyclopedia, Economics and Finance. Oxford University Press USA.


Justification and conformity
Erte Xiao (2017) “Justification and Conformity”.  Journal of Economic Behavior and Organisation, 136, 15-28.


(F) utility Exposed
Fumagalli, R. (2019). (F) utility Exposed. Philosophy of Science, 86(5), 955-966.


Slipping on slippery slope arguments
Fumagalli, R. (2020). Slipping on slippery slope arguments. Bioethics, 34(4), 412-419.


Behavioural Insights in Consultation Design: A Dialogical Architecture
Cafaggi, F., & Sillari, G. (2018). Behavioural Insights in Consultation Design: A Dialogical Architecture. European Journal of Risk Regulation, 9(4), 603-631.