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Title: Essays on social conformity : behavioural game theory models and experiment
Author: Sontuoso, Alessandro
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2012
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Human conduct is often guided by conformist preferences, with "conformity" being the act of changing one's behaviour to match the purported beliefs of others. Informal norms regulating human behaviour play a crucial role in directing people's expectations, thereby favouring uniformity of behaviour. This thesis develops such insights by exploring the conditions for different categories of norms to be in operation. The first essay [Chapter 1] considers the motive that drives players when facing a problem of coordinating one another's actions for their mutual benefit. Chapter 1 suggests that for a "convention" (i.e.: a solution to a coordination game with multiple equilibria) to be in operation, conformity is dependent on the states one is aware of, that is, the specifications of the contingencies that each player perceives in the context of a given game. The second essay [Chapter2] focuses on the motivation that makes people comply with default rules of behaviour when facing a social dilemma (i.e.: a "mixed-motive" game). Chapter 2 suggests that individuals may feel guilt at violating a norm, and this painful emotion generates conformity under precisely stated conditions. The essay models a "norm" as a rule that dictates a set of strategy profiles: it is assumed that players hold a conjecture about the active player's norm- complying actions; a norm-driven decision maker is then modelled as a player with conformist preferences whose utility function is a linear combination of material and psychological payoffs. The third essay [Chapter3] provides an experimental test for conformist motivations by investigating the extent to which the peers' behaviour (as presumed by other players) serves the individual as a means to guiding her actions. Specifically, the experiment of Chapter 3 is designed to measure the impact of the beliefs of players in the same role on behaviour; the data show evidence of conformity being present.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available