Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

How laws affect the perception of norms: empirical evidence from the lockdown

How laws affect the perception of norms: empirical evidence from the lockdown. Roberto Galbiati ([email protected]), Emeric Henry, Nicolas Jacquemet ([email protected]) and Max Lobeck.  Published: September 24, 2021, PLOS One.
Abstract: “Laws not only affect behavior due to changes in material payoffs, but they may also change the perception individuals have of societal norms, either by shifting them directly or by providing information on these norms. Using detailed daily survey data and exploiting the introduction of lockdown measures in the UK in the context of the COVID-19 health crisis, we provide causal evidence that the law drastically changed the perception of the norms regarding social distancing behaviors. We show this effect of laws on perceived norms is mostly driven by an informational channel….In this paper, we take advantage of the lockdown measures introduced to face the COVID-19 pandemic and of rich survey data, gathered by worldwide, to provide causal evidence that laws affect the perception of norms, and to disentangle the mechanisms behind the change. Our setting allows us to observe the effects of the law not only on perceived social norms (i.e., ones’ beliefs about what others consider appropriate) but also on personal norms (i.e., ones’ belief about what an appropriate behavior is). This allows us to build a measure of social norms that we can compare to perceived social norms. We focus on the case of Boris Johnson’s announcement of a nation-wide lockdown in the UK on the evening on March 23 2020. This setting has several key features that we can exploit to investigate the causal effect of laws on perceptions of the social norm. First, the implementation of this law came as a relative surprise. Indeed it represented a sharp change in the UK government’s strategy that has previously signaled strong reserves regarding total lockdowns. Second, the law was far reaching, including several different policies, such as lockdown and store closures, that had typically been more gradually implemented in other countries…”

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.