From Extreme to Mainstream: How Social Norms Unravel
Social norms, usually persistent, can unravel quickly when new public information arrives, such as a surprising election outcome. In our model of strategic communication, senders state their opinion but they can lie to pander to the popular view; receivers thus make less inference about such senders. We test the model's predictions with two experiments. On the sender's side, we show via revealed preference that Donald Trump's rise in popularity and eventual victory increased individuals' willingness to publicly express xenophobic views. On the receiver's side, we show that individuals are judged less negatively if they expressed a xenophobic view in an environment where the view is popular.
Georgy Egorov, Leonardo Bursztyn, Stefano Fiorin
Egorov, Georgy, Leonardo Bursztyn, and Stefano Fiorin. 2018. From Extreme to Mainstream: How Social Norms Unravel.