What is it about?

Very strict prosocial norms can be detrimental to prosocial behavior. Counterintuitively, individuals who hold very strict norms of honesty are more likely to lie to the maximal extent. Further, countries with a larger fraction of people with very strict civic norms have more societal-level rule violations. Why would this be the case? A simple behavioral rationale: if perceived norms are so strict that they do not differentiate between small and large violations, then a large norm violation is better than a small one.

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Why is it important?

Much research finds that stronger prosocial norms lead to higher levels of prosocial or cooperative behavior. We show evidence that very strict prosocial norms can be detrimental to prosocial behavior. That is too strict social norms can have unintended detrimental effects.

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This page is a summary of: Social norms and dishonesty across societies, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, July 2022, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2120138119.
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