Working paper

On Injunctive Norms: Theory and Experiment

Pau Juan-Bartroli


Recent studies have shown that individuals’ behavior is sensitive to their perceptions of socially appropri-ate behavior. In this paper, I introduce a theory of injunctive norms in which individuals evaluate the social appropriateness of a given behavior using universalization reasoning. The theory allows one to compute the social appropriateness of any behavior without relying on individuals’ expectations, preferences, and actual behavior. Furthermore, it can be applied to a wide range of interactions and rationalize several observations unaccounted for by theories of social preferences. I test the theory’s predictions with evidence from past studies and new data from a lab experiment.


Social Norms; Morality; Lab Experiments; Social Preferences;

JEL codes

  • C91: Laboratory, Individual Behavior
  • D91: Intertemporal Household Choice • Life Cycle Models and Saving


Pau Juan-Bartroli, On Injunctive Norms: Theory and Experiment, TSE Working Paper, n. 24-1515, March 2024.

See also

Published in

TSE Working Paper, n. 24-1515, March 2024