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Seminar: The power of leadership in changing social norms

Tinbergen Institute

We investigate whether a leader can trigger or impede the change of a social norm in the society. We focus on the dynamic setting introduced by Andreoni et al. (2021) where a norm that was beneficial for the society becomes detrimental over time. In a laboratory experiment we introduce a leader and vary whether the leader’s incentives are aligned or not with the incentives of the rest of the society. Whereas norms are sticky in the absence of a leader, leading to a conformity trap in conservative societies, we find that the leader always manages to change the social norm in the society regardless of the strategy used by the leader (bottom-up or top-down), the type of the leader, or the type of society (advanced vs. conservative). Joint paper with Fabio Galeotti and Jona Krutaj.


  • Marie Claire Villeval (Université de Lyon)


Roetersstraat 11,
1018 WB Amsterdam