A panacea for improving citizen behaviors? Introduction to the symposium on the use of social norms in public administration

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Peter John
Michael Sanders
Jennifer Wang


Symposium introduction, Social norms, Behavioral insights, Nudge


Recent years have seen a growth in the use of social norm messages by local and national governments across the world. These messages have primarily been used to induce desired behaviors among the non-compliant minority by pointing to the compliance of the majority. As well as being of considerable theoretical interest, these messages have a high level of empirical and experimental support in government settings as well as a few null and negative findings. In this introduction to the symposium, we offer an overview of research to date using social norms in public administration, reviewing what ‘stylized facts’ emerge, then introduce the articles included in the symposium.

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