Discussion Paper

No. 2014-4 | January 14, 2014
Social Influences towards Conformism in Economic Experiments
(Published in Special Issue Economics, Psychology and Choice Theory)


This paper reviews some of the economic experimental evidence on conformism. There is nothing to match the early psychology experiments where subjects were often swayed by the behaviour of others to an extraordinary degree, but there is plenty of evidence of conformism. This seems built-in to our sociality either because we have preferences for conversation or status which are activated by the knowledge of what others do, or because other people face relevantly similar decisions to our own and so that their behaviour signals something useful to us about the uncertain world. These social influences can cause mischief. The more worrying cases, however, are those where individual preferences themselves change through interaction with others: the strongest experimental evidence for this is with respect to individual social preferences.

JEL Classification:

C91, C92, D43, H41


  • Downloads: 1408


Cite As

Shaun P. Hargreaves Heap (2014). Social Influences towards Conformism in Economic Experiments. Economics Discussion Papers, No 2014-4, Kiel Institute for the World Economy. http://www.economics-ejournal.org/economics/discussionpapers/2014-4

Comments and Questions

Anonymous - Referee report 1
January 30, 2014 - 11:48

see attached file

Ekkehart Schlicht - Two Additional Remarks on Conformism
February 13, 2014 - 06:58

I attach two comments on the article “Social Influences towards Conformism in Economic Experiments” by Hargreaves Heap that is to appear in the Economics e-Journal. One relates to the concept of conformism, the other lines out some phenomena where an explicit recognition of group processes, such as conformism, may be ...[more]

... analytically helpful.

Anonymous - Referee report 2
March 24, 2014 - 11:05

see attached file

Shaun P. Hargreaves Heap - Authors comments
April 09, 2014 - 12:46

see attached file

Shaun P. Hargreaves Heap - Revised version
April 09, 2014 - 12:54

see attached file