Some scholars interpret this as a change in individuals’ sociality, arguing that in particular young people have very strong pro-social motives. However, I do not believe that individual motives have changed dramatically. In contrast, new social institutions have been developed that allow individuals to get into contact with others, to place trust in them, and to punish defectors. Uber taxis are a great example, as the Uber app makes it virtually impossible for taxi drivers and customers to hornswoggle each other.
This illustrates that one cannot explain the behavior of individuals without a proper understanding of the institutional setting. In my research, I study how different social institutions (e.g. signaling, peer-punishment, cheap-talk communication) affect individuals’ behavior in social situations. Plus, I try to develop and test theories of the evolution of social institutions. In a recent experiment, for instance, I conducted a tournament of social institutions to test whether social groups that have certain social institutions have a competitive advantage over other groups.
I have developed formal models of the intriguing macro-patterns that random deviations on the micro-level can generate. Plus, I conducted a laboratory experiment to test the hypothesis that a micro-model that takes into account random deviations makes more accurate macro-predictions than a model that neglects deviations. What is more, the experiment demonstrated that it is possible to predict the conditions under which random micro-deviations affect macro-patterns.
I believe that noise and its consequences needs to be studied also from an empirical perspective. Obviously, it is super challenging to study something that is rare and potentially random. However, a recent paper by Heinrich Nax and myself proves that it is possible.
Schelling's model of residential segregation
Opinion polarization without negative influence