School of Economics

2009 Discussion Papers

School of Economics Discussion Paper 09/06
March 2009

Social Norms and Naïve Beliefs

Amrish Patel and Edward Cartwright

School of Economics
University of Kent


In this paper we analyse the effect that naïve agents (those who take behavior at “face value”) have on the nature of social norms. After reviewing the use of signalling models to model conformity, we argue in favour of modelling naïve inferences in tandem with standard Bayes rational inferences. Naïve agents weaken the existence of social norms and reduce the range of actions that can become social norms.

JEL Classification: D82, D83, Z13

Keywords: Signalling, Conformity, Social Norms, Naïve Beliefs

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