Cultural Transmission and Social Norms

About CTSN 2016

The first workshop on Cultural Transmission and Social Norms in 2016 was organised by David Hugh-Jones and Jinnie Ooi Ying Sze at the School of Economics at the University of East Anglia. The workshop brought together leading researchers from a range of disciplines, including economics, history and psychology, to share perspectives on how social norms are transmitted within societies, at both macro and micro levels.


The School of Economics has a reputation as a centre of research excellence, and has been ranked among the top six UK Economics departments in the latest CHE Excellence Group for outstanding research. The Research Excellence Framework (2014) ranks the School of Economics 8th among economics departments for research outputs, with 91.8% of the School’s research scored as either “world-leading” or “internationally excellent”. The School is a leading partner in two research centres; The Centre for Competition Policy, and the Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science.



Johannes Abeler, University of Oxford

Johannes Abeler is Associate Professor in Economics at the University of Oxford. He applied insights from behavioural and experimental economics to questions in labour and public economics. His research has studied the economic effects of honesty, disappointment, fairness, complexity, and fungibility.

Topic: „Preferences for truth telling“

Nick Bardsley, University of Reading

Nick Bardsley’s research is mainly in two fields, ecological economics and behavioural economics. For example, a recent research project used a field experiment to study household energy use, aiming, for example, for insight into the ‘rebound’ phenomenon. Secondly, he has been conducting experimental investigations of decision making, and has also addressed related methodological issues. For example, Nick has been looking at evidence contradicting received theories of economic behaviour and testing alternative theories, particularly ones positing ‘social preferences’ or collective rationality. The methodological work has concerned both the concepts involved in such enquiries, and issues for the conduct and interpretation of experiments involving human subjects.

Topic: „Food Norms in Schoos: Probing Pluralistic Ignorance with Behavioral Games.“

Zvonomir Basic, University of Bonn

Zvonimir Basic’s primary research focus is on the development of preferences with children and adolescents. In particular, he is interested in the domain of other-regarding behaviour, where he has investigated the development of third-party punishment, as well as the development of influence of self and social image concerns on other-regarding behaviour. Secondly, he is interested in self and social image concerns in a broader way. More specifically, in how the two concerns impact various behaviours, how the two concerns connect, and which type of individuals are influenced by them. For these purposes, he has investigated the influence of self and social image concerns with adults in the domain of other-regarding behaviour and lying behaviour.

Topic: „The Development of Egalitarian Norm Enforcement in Childhood and Adolescence.“

Manuel Eisner, University of Cambridge

Manuel Eisner is Professor of Comparative and Developmental Criminology at the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge. He studied history and sociology, and completed his PhD in sociology. Manuel’s current work revolves around three main areas, namely a) research on macro-level historical patterns of violence, including the examination of evolutionary theories about effects of social contexts on interpersonal violence. b) research on individual development and the causes of violent behaviour, which entails some psychological work on human development, comorbidity, and developmental cascades. c) work on the prevention of violence and aggressive behaviour, including several randomised controlled trials and meta-analyses.

Topic: „From the Savannah to the Magistrate’s Court: The Roots of Criminal Justice in Evolved Human Psychology.“

David Hugh-Jones, University of East Anglia

David Hugh-Jones is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Economics. He holds a PhD in
Government from the University of Essex where he was based as a Lecturer in the Departmentof Government before joining UEA. His research interests include Experimental Economics,the Economics of Conflict and Public Economics. He has published his work in top journals inEconomics (like Games and Economic Behavior) and Political Science (like the Journal of ConflictResolution).

Topic: „Where do fairness preferences come from? An experiment on norm transmission in an adolescent social network.“

Erin Krupka, University of Michigan

Erin Krupka is an assistant professor at the School of Information. Krupka is an experimental behavioral economist who explores the ways in which social and environmental factors influence behavior, using both laboratory and field experiments. Her research on social norms suggests why individuals might engage in behaviors that appear inconsistent with self-interest and suggests why trivial modifications to a decision context can change behavior significantly. Broadly, her work contributes to the emerging literature that models the sway of non-wealth factors on choice, by using social norms to raise the “psychological cost” of selfishness. This work is directly relevant to the incentive-centered design of information systems, an approach pioneered by faculty at the School of Information. She is also an affiliate of the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA). Her work has appeared in journals that speak to multiple audiences; most notably to audiences in economics, business and management as well as in computer science and information science. She has received funding from the NSF, the Donoghue Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as well as numerous grants from the University of Michigan.

Topic: „Promise-keeping Norms and Renegotiation Behavior.“

Xueheng Li, University of Nottingham

Xueheng Li’s research interests include the evolution of social norms, network analysis, and applied game theory.

Moti Michaeli, University of Haifa

Moti Michaeli is an Assistant Professor of economics at the University of Haifa. He obtained a Ph.D. in economics and the study of rationality from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 2014 and was a Max Weber postdoctoral fellow in economics at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence, Italy, in 2014-2016. He has published in top field journals such as the Journal of Public Economics, the American Economic Journal: Micro and Economic Theory. His main research interests are Behavioral Economics, Political Economy and Law and Economics. In particular, he studies the underlying psychological and behavioral mechanisms that drive social, political and legal phenomena.

Michael Muthukrishna, London School of Economics

Michael Muthukrishna’s research focuses on the psychological and evolutionary processes that underlie culture (norms, beliefs, values, behaviors, etc) and how culture is transmitted, maintained, and modified. He uses a two-pronged methodological approach in his research, combining mathematical and computational modeling (primarily evolutionary models), and experimental psychology and experimental economics. These interests lead to three broad questions: (1) What explains human uniqueness? This is the starting point for Michael’s research and a necessary question to derive a “Theory of Human Behavior” from first principles. (2) How does culture evolve? He tests the predictions made by evolutionary models of human behavior using experiments and where possible, large datasets. (3) How can a psychology built up from first principles allow us to explain the modern world? Michael is interested in how these emerging theories and data can be used to make the world a better place. This is a fairly new focus and these efforts have been primarily through private consulting and engagement with industry and government.

 Topic: „Innovation in the Collective Brain: The Transmission and Evolution of Norms and Culture“

Peter J. Richerson, University of California-Davis

Peter J. Richerson is Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at the University of California Davis. His research focuses on the processes of cultural evolution. His 1985 book with Robert Boyd, Culture and the Evolutionary Process,applied the mathematical tools used by organic evolutionists to study a number of basic problems in human cultural evolution. His later books with Boyd include Not By Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution, an introduction to cultural evolution aimed at a broad audience and The Origins and Evolution of Cultures, a compendium of their more important papers and book chapters. He has recently co-edited a book Cultural Evolution with Morten Christiansen reporting the results of a Strüngmann Forum. His recent publications used theoretical models to try to understand some of the main events in human evolution, such as the evolution of the advanced capacity for imitation (and hence cumulative cultural evolution) in humans, the origins of tribal and larger scale cooperation, and the origins of agriculture. He and his colleagues also investigate cultural evolution in laboratory microsocieties.

Topic: „The Evolution of Norms and Institutions“

Katrin Schmelz, University of Konstanz

Katrin Schmelz is particularly interested in how culture and institutions affect our behavior. In terms of behavior, she has mainly studied the interaction between extrinsic incentives and intrinsic motivation from various perspectives. Methodologically, Katrin relies on economic experiments, while her research lies at the intersection between economics and psychology.

Topic: „Do politico-economic systems influence how control affects motivation?“

Robert Sugden, University of East Anglia

Robert Sugden is a Professor in the School of Economics, University of East Anglia. His research uses a combination of theoretical, experimental and philosophical methods to investigate issues in behavioural economics, normative economics, choice under uncertainty, the foundations of decision and game theory, the methodology of economics, and the evolution of social conventions. He currently holds a European Research Council Advanced Grant for a project on reconstructing normative economics on a foundation of mutual advantage.

Topic: „Mutual Benefit as a Norm.“

Marcella Veronesi, University of Verona

Marcella Veronesi is an Associate Professor at the Department of Economics, University of Verona (Italy), and a Research Affiliate at the Center for Development and Cooperation (NADEL) of the Swiss Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich (Switzerland). Marcella received her Ph.D. and M.S. from the University of Maryland and has been a senior researcher and lecturer at ETH Zurich. Her research focuses on applied microeconomics, and in particular, on topics ranging from the economics of identity to health and environmental economics.

Topic: „Social Identity, Attitudes towards cooperation, and social preferences: Evidence from Switzerland.“

Felix Warneken, Harvard University

Dr. Felix Warneken is the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences and Director of the Social Cognitive Development Group in the Psychology Department at Harvard University. He uses developmental, cross-cultural, and comparative methods to understand human psychology, with a focus on the social-cognitive underpinnings of cooperation and fairness. He has received several awards, most recently the Janet Taylor Spence Award for Transformative Early Career Contributions from the Association for Psychological Science and the Boyd McCandless Award by the American Psychological Association.

Topic: „The Origins of Cooperation and Fairness.“

Fabian Winter, Max Planck Institute for Research on Common Goods

Fabian Winter is head of the research group “Mechanisms of Normative Change” at the Max Planck Institute for Collective Goods. He is a social scientist working at the intersection of sociology, economics, and sometimes social psychology. Fabian heads a research group at the MPI for Collective Goods in Bonn, studying the “Mechanisms of Normative Change”. He is an experimentalist by training, but is constantly expanding his methodological quiver to use the necessary methods to answer the questions he has.

Topic: „Normative change and culture of hate: a randomized experiment in online communities.“

Emily Wyman, University of Nottingham

Emily Wyman’s professional interests lie in the realm of cooperative behaviour and decision-making: She uses economic game-theory models to investigate when and how individuals cooperate under experimental conditions. She explores psychological adaptations for cooperation, focusing in particular on how these emerge over development (experimental work with children), and how they are unique to humans (comparative work with our primate relatives). Emily’s applied work involves developing methods for applying the basic science of cooperation to real-world cooperative challenges outside the lab. This focuses particularly on applications in business contexts.

Topic: „Team Reasoning and Fairness in Children’s Cooperative Decision-making.“

Erez Yoeli, Harvard University

Erez Yoeli is a research scientist at Harvard’s Program for Evolutionary Dynamics (PED). He uses game theory to study puzzling aspects of people’s sense of rights, ethics, and altruism, then applies the lessons from this work to addressing real-world problems like increasing energy conservation, improving antibiotic adherence, and reducing smoking in public places. Before joining PED, Erez was an economist at the Federal Trade Commission.

Topic: „Harnessing Observability to Promote Large-scale Cooperation.“

Ro’I Zultan, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Ro’I is an experimental economist with a background in cognitive and experimental psychology. He is mainly interested in understanding how groups shape cognitions and behaviour as well as in more broad issues of cooperation and behaviour in teams. Ro’I uses the experimental laboratory to study innate human tendencies that emerge even in context and history free worlds.

Topic: „The Evolution of Norms and Institutions“

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