How do social norms and expectations about others influence individual behavior?

Forthcoming in Foundations of Science


Social norms can be understood as the grammar of social interaction. Like grammar in speech, they specify what is acceptable in a given context. But what are the specific rules that direct human compliance with the norm? This paper presents a quantitative model of self- and the other-perspective interaction based on a ‘quantum model of decision-making,’ which can explain some of the ‘fallacies’ of the classical model of strategic choice. By (re)connecting two fields of social science research – norms compliance, and strategic decision-making – we aim to show how the novel quantum approach to the later can advance our understanding of the former. From the cacophony of different quantum models, we distil the minimal structure necessary to account for the known dynamics between the expectations and decisions of an actor. This model was designed for the strategic interaction of two players and successfully tested in the case of the one-shot Prisoners’ Dilemma game. Quantum models offer a new conceptual framework for examining the interaction between self- and other-perspective in the process of social interaction which enables us to specify how social norms influence individual behaviour.

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