The importance of demonstratively restoring order

K. Keizer, S.M. Lindenberg, L. Steg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Contrary to what is often assumed, order is not the strongest context for encouraging normative behavior. The strongest context effect on normative behavior comes from cues that clearly convey other people’s respect for norms. Ironically, this show of respect necessitates some contrasting disrespect that is being restored. Using civic virtues (such as helping behavior) as a prototype of normative behavior, the three field experiments described in this paper reveal the impact of normative cues on civic virtues. Results show that the strongest effect on making people follow prosocial norms in public places emanates from seeing order being restored, rather than just order being present. The robust and surprisingly large effects show that observing other people’s respect for one particular norm (as evidenced in their restoring physical order) makes it more likely that the onlooker follows other norms as well. This implies that prosocial behavior has the highest chance of spreading when people observe order being restored. There are clear policy implications: create low cost “normative respect cues” wherever it is desirable to increase conformity to norms.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere65137
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume8
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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