What makes unwritten rules work? A framework for understanding normative influence. (2008–2010)
Societies are regulated primarily by norms, which are unwritten, informal rules for appropriate behaviour. Norms guide behaviour where laws do not apply, such as most health behaviour (dieting, exercise, etc.). Moreover, if norms clash with laws, non-compliance may result (widespread speeding, racial discrimination, etc.). Research and common sense both agree that unwritten social rules are important. However, research on norms is conducted with contradictory theories about what norms are. Our proposal tests an integrative model to resolve this fundamental contradiction. It includes basic laboratory experiments and field interventions, and thus will contribute to effective norm change campaigns and to theory-building.