(Working papers, data, and materials might be available upon request. Please, feel free to contact me)


Alvarez-Benjumea, A. Uncovering Hidden Opinions: The contagion of Anti-immigrant Views.

Abstract: Social norms against the expression of hate prevent people from publicly expressing hostility towards minorities or support bigoted attitudes. Yet variations of the strength of the anti-hate norm occur, both locally and temporarily. This experiment seeks to explain the short-term dynamics of normative change induced by the observed pattern of behavior. In the experiment, the number of norm violations increases over time, which allows for empirically testing the dynamics that underline normative change, and the resulting pattern of behavior. Participants were invited to take part in an online forum discussing immigration issues. We manipulate the social acceptability of expressing prejudice by continuously increasing the proportion of hate comments, i.e., violations of the anti-hate norm. We then recorded participants’ comments and classified the comments based on their social acceptability. We measure how the proportion of norm violations of the anti-hate norm influences participants’ comments change over time. The empirical results show that participants exposed to norm violations were more prone to express anti-immigrant views and use hateful language. Results thus confirm that compliance with the anti-hate norm depends on the social acceptability inferred from the context.

Alvarez-Benjumea, A., Freund, L., Luckner, K., Winter, F. Public Signals as Coordination Devices: The Moderating Effect of Group Identity.

Abstract: Experiments on social norm intervention suggest that public information, which creates common knowledge, is more effective in increasing norm conformity than privately disseminated information, regardless of other factors affecting norm conformity, such as group identity. We present a theoretical model and an experimental test of the effect of the channel of dissemination (public vs. private) of a normative message under different levels of group identity on norm compliance in a public goods game with heterogeneous groups of actors. In the theoretical model, we derive an actor’s pecuniary and identity utility, as well as the conditions under which they will coordinate on a correlated equilibrium. In the experiment, we play a public goods game in which we provide the participants with a normative message about the fairness norm. The conditions vary between low/high group identity, and public/private information. We test the coordination on the provided fairness norm in each setting. To increase the strength of the test, we introduce heterogeneous endowments. This increases the number of alternative fairness norms on which coordination is feasible. Our results suggest that group identity increases norm compliance, while the public dissemination of normative information has no, or even negative, effects on norm compliance depending on the type of actor in question.

Tracking the Trump Effect (together with Winter, F. and Zhang, N.)

The effect of anomie in norm-compliance (together Winter, F.)