Norm enforcement in the city revisited: An international field experiment of altruistic punishment, norm maintenance, and broken windows

Berger, Joël; Hevenstone, Debra (2016). Norm enforcement in the city revisited: An international field experiment of altruistic punishment, norm maintenance, and broken windows. Rationality and society, 28(3), pp. 1-21. Sage Publications 10.1177/1043463116634035

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In laboratory experiments, people are willing to sanction norms at a cost—a behavioral tendency called altruistic punishment. However, the degree to which these findings can be generalized to real-world interactions is still debated. Only a small number of field experiments have been conducted, and initial results suggest that punishment is less frequent outside of the lab. This study replicates one of the first field experiments on altruistic punishment and builds ties to research on norm compliance and the broken windows theory. The original study addressed the enforcement of the anti-littering norm in Athens. We replicate this study in Bern, Zurich, and New York City. As an extension, we investigate how the experimental context (clean vs littered) impacts social norm enforcement. As a second extension, we investigate how opportunity structure impacts the maintenance of the anti-littering norm. Findings indicate that norms are universally enforced, although significantly less than in the standard laboratory experiment,and that enforcement is significantly more common in Switzerland than in New York. Moreover, individuals prefer more subtle forms of enforcement to direct punishment. We also find that enforcement is less frequent in littered than in clean contexts, suggesting that broken windows might not only foster deviant behavior but also weaken informal social control. Finally, we find that opportunity structure can encourage people to maintain norms, as indicated by the fact that people are more likely to voluntarily pick up litter when it is closer to a trash bin.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Sociology
03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Hevenstone, Debra

Subjects:

300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 360 Social problems & social services

ISSN:

1043-4631

Publisher:

Sage Publications

Language:

English

Submitter:

Debra Hevenstone

Date Deposited:

11 May 2016 15:47

Last Modified:

13 Jul 2016 01:31

Publisher DOI:

10.1177/1043463116634035

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.80217

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/80218

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  • Norm enforcement in the city revisited: An international field experiment of altruistic punishment, norm maintenance, and broken windows. (deposited 11 May 2016 15:47) [Currently Displayed]

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