One important reason why I love this paper is that it emerged from a wonderful collaboration with Karl-Dieter Opp, my former professor from Leipzig. It was great fun to work with him and I look forward to our future work.
When is ignorance bliss? Disclosing true information and cascades of norm violation in networks
It has been hypothesized that disclosing a population’s true rate of norm violation increases norm-violating behavior. Withholding such information might, thus, prevent the attenuation of useful norms. Analyzing a classical threshold model with flexible thresholds, we show that disclosing the true rate of norm violation can spark cascades of norm violation but can also have the opposite effect, decreasing norm violation and strengthening norm acceptance. The direction of the cascade depends on the initial rate of norm violation. Furthermore, the disclosure effect depends on whether or not the rate of norm violation is disclosed repeatedly, the structure of the social network, and whether individuals’ norm acceptance is inelastic or open to peer-influence.
We want to thank the two reviewers for their very positive evaluations and many helpful comments. Thanks to their input the paper improved very much. Thanks also to the editor for the very quick handling.
This short animation movie gives you an idea of the dynamics that we modeled.