The presence of laws and mandates is associated with increased social norm enforcement

Laetitia B. Mulder, Tim Kurz, Annayah M.B. Prosser, Miguel A. Fonseca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Policy makers often implement laws or mandates to attempt to change people's behavior. Such policies act not only as deterrents, but also as societal signposts for what is considered morally right and wrong within a society. In this paper we argue that the presence of laws and mandates may be associated with citizens’ inclination to engage in social norm enforcement within their own network. We studied this using four different datasets in different settings (text-and-drive laws, influenza vaccination mandates, speed limit laws, and COVID-19 mask mandates), in three different countries (total N = 3,156). In all datasets, we found associations between mandates or laws and the inclination to socially confront norm violators. This is in line with our theorizing that mandates and laws may help to increase citizens’ inclination to engage in social norm enforcement, and to foster interpersonal policing of behavior, inviting future research to establish more direct causal conclusions in this regard.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102703
JournalJournal of Economic Psychology
Volume101
Early online dateFeb 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024

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