Cultural Transmission and Social Norms

About CTSN 2017

The second edition of the Cultural Transmission and Social Norms workshop in December 2017 was organised by David Hugh-Jones and Fabian Winter at the School of Economics at the University of East Anglia. The workshop brought together leading researchers from a range of disciplines, including economics, sociology 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.



Izzatina Abdul Aziz, University of East Anglia

Izzatina Abdul Aziz research interests lie in the intersections of behavioural development economics and political economy. Her current research explores social preferences in representative leaderships. Izzatina has the experience of conducting lab-in-the-field experiments in rural Sarawak, the Federation of Malaysia. She also currently holds a grant from the International Foundation for Research in Experimental  Economics (IFREE).

Topic: „Does Representation Emerged from Social Status? Experimental Evidence from Borneo“

Benjamin Beranek, Nottingham University

Benjamin Beranek is Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics at Connecticut College a private, liberal arts college in New England and an External Fellow in the Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics (CeDEx). In his research, he uses the tools of experimental economics to test, measure, and investigate elements of behavioral economic theory about individual social preferences. He often addresses one of the criticisms of experimental economics—that the findings have limited generalizability because the subjects who participate in these experiments are commonly students from North American or European universities—by including subjects from culturally different societies and beyond the university. His research interests include social preferences, inequality aversion, conditional cooperation, honesty, social norms, and social distance.

Topic: „Social Norms and Dishonesty in Societies“

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.“

Michael Biggs, University of Oxford

Michael Biggs is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Fellow of St Cross College at the University of Oxford. He is interested in times when ordinary people choose extraordinary actions, in defiance of powerful structures. Their collective action occasionally transform those structures (e.g. French Revolution, Arab Spring), which of course lends it historical significance. But even when collective action fails, it is intrinsically interesting. Within the discipline, his research fits into the field of social movements, or more broadly political sociology. Most abstractly, he is fascinated by processes of change and by spatial patternings of social life.

Topic: „How Protesting Depends on Peers: The Anti-War Movement in U.S. Colleges in the 1960s“

Stefania Bortolotti, University of Cologne

Stefania Bortolotti is a senior research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Research on
Collective Goods in Bonn and member of the C-SEB Center in Cologne. She also was a research fellow at the University of Cologne and Bologna and a visiting scholar at Carnegie Mellon University. Her research interests are in the field of experimental and behavioral economics, with a focus on cross-cultural cooperation, trust, fairness views, and coordination games.

Topic: „At the root of the North-South cooperation gap in Italy: Preferences or beliefs?“

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.“

Alexander Cappelen, Norwegian School of Economics

Alexander W. Cappelen is a professor at the Department of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics (NHH), where his academic positions include Deputy Director of the Centre of Excellence FAIR (Centre for Experimental Research on Fairness, Inequality and Rationality), co-director of the research group The Choice Lab, and Head of Centre for Ethics and Economics. His research interests are behavioral, experimental and public economics, business ethics, social choice theory, political philosophy and distributive justice. Cappelen has published extensively in leading international journals. Cappelen finished his doctoral dissertation on “Redistribution in a Divided World” at NHH in 2000, and has been Professor since 2006.

Topic: „Cooperation creates Special Moral Obligations.“

Daniel Chen, University of Toulouse Capitole

Daniel Chen is a professor at University of Toulouse Capitole. His interest focusses diverse questions in law and economics , such as: Are there deontological motivations, and if there are, how might we formally model these motivations? What are the implications of things like  deontological motivations for economics and policy, and what puzzles can we explain with deontological motivations that we cannot with standard models? What is the impact of law & economics on justice? To answer these questions his research has curated 12 terabytes of archival and administrative data on judges and courts where normative ideas incubate and developed a programming language to study normative commitments in experiments now used in 23 countries, 10 academic disciplines, private and public sectors, and local high schools.

Topic: „Ideas Have Consequences: The Impact of Law and Economics on American Justice“

Neil Cummins, London School of Economics

Neil Cummins is an Associate Professor of Economic History at the London School of Economics. In his research he focusses on topics about life, love and death. His methods combine Economic logic and historical sources with big data analytics.

Topic: „The Big Sort: Selective Migration and the Decline of Northern England, 1800-2017.“

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“

Simon Gächter, University of Nottingham

Simon Gaechter is Professor of the Psychology of Economic Decision Making at Nottingham University Currently, his main research interests are on voluntary cooperation in the presence of free rider incentives, and on the interplay of material and psychological incentives in incentive provision. He is co-author of Herrmann et al. (2008), an important paper on cooperation and punishment in public goods games in different cultures, and has published numerous articles in top science, economics and management journals. He is the holder of a European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Investigator grant on the Behavioural Economics of Cooperation (2012-2017).

Thomas Hills, University of Warwick

Thomas Hills is the Director of the Bridges-Leverhulme Doctorial Training Centre. He initiated and lead the Behavioral and Data Science MSc and he does co-direct Warwick’s Global Research Priority in Behavioral Science. Currently, Thomas Hills is a Fellow of the Alan Turing Institute, which offers PhD studentships to work with its Fellows for exceptional candidates, and he also is a Research Fellow of the Royal Society. He is interested in the evolution of cognition and information and their relation to language, well-being, memory and decision making. His research involves using suitable data, network science and machine learning.

Topic: „Quantitative Historical Psychology.““

Willemien Kets, University of Oxford

Willemien Kets is an Associate Professor at the Department of Economics at the University of Oxford and a Fellow in Economics at the Queen’s College in Oxford. She is also an External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute, an Extramural Fellow at CentER , and an affiliated member at Behavioral and Experimental Economists at Tilburg. Her research interests include game theory, behavioral economics, economics of culture and identity, bounded rationality, and experimental economics.

Topic: „A theory of Strategic Uncertainty and Cultural Diversity.“

Felix Warneken, Harvard University

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.“

Jan Lorenz, Jacobs University Bremen

Jan Lorenz is an applied mathematician and social scientist. He studies opinion dynamics and collective decision making at Jacobs University, Bremen. He aims to better understand phenomena as polarization, evolution of plurality, social cohesion, consensus and extremism in opinion landscapes, and to find democratic innovations to aggregate the wisdom of the crowd in collective decisions. He has published in science, physics and economics journals.

Topic: „Modeling the evolution of attitude landscapes through opinion dynamics.“

Michael Vlassopoulos – University of Southampton

Michael Vlassopoulos is Professor of Economics at the University of Southampton. He is an applied microeconomist with wide-range interests that span a number of areas: public, labour and development economics. He approaches these subjects with a behavioural theoretical framework that incorporates psychologically grounded assumptions into formal economic models of behaviour. His research approach combines theory and data, using a variety of methodological approaches, ranging from the design of experiments, both in the laboratory and in the field, to the analysis of administrative and survey data.

Topic: „Competitive Preferences and Ethnicity: Experimental Evidence from Bangladesh.“

Roberto Weber, University of Zurich

Roberto Weber is Professor of Economics and Head of the Chair of Behavioural Economics at the University of Zurich. His research focuses on the application of behavioral economic insights and experimental economic methods to the study of organizations and institutions. Previously, he was Assistant, Associate and Full Professor of Social and Decision Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University. He has published research in the leading journals in economics, management, political science and psychology.

Topic: „Public Discourse and Socially Responsible Market Behavior.“

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.“

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